This example addresses OWI Principle 4: “Appropriate onsite composition theories, pedagogies, and strategies should be migrated and adapted to the online instructional environment.” More specifically, the practices suggested below relate to items 4.1 and 4.6 from the position statement: “When migrating from onsite modalities to the online environment, teachers should break their assignments, exercises, and activities into smaller units to increase opportunities for interaction between teacher and student” (4.1) and “Teachers should incorporate redundancy (e.g., reminders and repeated information) in the course’s organization. Such repetition acts like oral reminders in class” (4.6). I try to highlight here the ways in which my online practice is not just effective in and of itself, but how it derives in many ways from my onsite teaching practice.
Writing-to-Learn assignments are short response activities that encourage critical thinking and active learning. While writing-to-learn assignments must be connected to a course’s outcomes, these activities are low-stakes opportunities for students to engage with course content outside of high-stakes assignments. However, a writing prompt is not writing-to-learn just because it is low-stakes. Writing-to-learn prompts use writing as a tool for learning through activities that encourage students to explore ideas, refine thoughts, and apply new knowledge. This article will describe writing-to-learn activities from hybrid professional writing courses and online, asynchronous introductory composition courses. However, writing-to-lean can be used in any course, even courses outside of writing studies. This practice addresses OLI Principle 3, which states that when appropriate, “reading, alphabetic writing, and multimodal composition theories from traditional instructional settings” should “migrate and/or adapt” to online learning environments.
Using screenshots from our own courses, we demonstrate how Ally brought specific accessibility issues to our attention. We also discuss how this experience prompted us to consider the degree to which these changes increase the accessibility of these resources and what other considerations might be overlooked by the program. This practice addresses OLI Principle 1: "Online literacy instruction should be universally accessible and inclusive."
Writing on the Web builds on decades of traditional composition theory that suggests students learn more and become better writers by participating in the process of writing (Berlin; Britton; Murray). The waves of scholarship that brought this thinking to the forefront of composition studies, however, came at a time when composition studies only just started to wrestle with supporting digital writing (Holmes; Summerfield). While this activity builds on the aforementioned tradition in composition studies of encouraging students to develop writing skills and metacognition through the practice of writing, it presents a way to do that task in online environments. Contrary to the insistence of some pundits that modern students are “digital natives” whose computer skills are well beyond our own (Prensky), I find that a low-stakes activity like Writing on the Web helps students better understand how writing online differs from writing on a standard page in a word processor.
In an attempt to help all students access an online class and feel comfortable moving into the first module of the class, this example uses videos that are purposefully brief with each video aiming to accomplish a specific aspect of orienting students to a particular online class, preparing them to begin the work of the course in a confident manner. This effective practice takes the idea of the ‘Welcome Announcement’ and enhances it to be an overview of the course, a navigational guide, and an introduction to the instructor. Effective practice 10.1 stresses the importance of helping students become familiar with the design of the online course, and specifically, identifying the difference between public and private writing spaces and where assignments can be located and completed.
This practice, which addresses OWI Principle 1, is a strategy for managing student expectations for an online writing course prior to the start of the semester and early in the semester. Even if students are capable of doing the work, they might not be able or willing to put in the time required to succeed in a particular online course. The goal is to ensure that students who stay in the course understand how to succeed—or have time to withdraw from the course early enough to avoid receiving a low grade.
This example addresses OWI Principle 3: "Appropriate composition teaching/learning strategies should be developed for the unique features of the online instructional environment." The blog is a platform for ongoing conversation and reflection related to individual student research projects throughout a course. This in-practice example has been used in a community college setting in an online, primarily asynchronous, first-year composition course being delivered through Blackboard 9.1.
The activity explained below presents an innovative approach to the design and integration of collaborative writing projects using the Google Apps for Education online platform (OWI 4). The setting is a traditional, face-to-face high school English classroom in which students write in class simultaneously, each on separate devices, on shared Google Docs. In particular, I offer specific strategies for teaching students to write collaboratively in a variety of creative genres, including plays, poems, narrative essays, and speeches. While I taught the lessons in high school English classes, the strategies can be adapted for college composition, especially first-year writing courses. As illustrated in students’ writing samples, this approach can support students’ writing practices as students craft works that are cohesive in substance, structure, and style. In addition, integrating collaborative computer-mediated composition can encourage creativity, foster inquiry, and build a shared sense of community in the classroom as the digital dimension transforms the composing process (in accordance with OWI 11).
This practices supports OLI Principle 3. It focuses on integrating a variety of technologies for consistent feedback and telling students upfront how and with what technologies they will receive feedback.
This practice includes a sequence of discussion assignments developed to build academic community and develop academic literacies among first-year college students, a practice called orchestrated asynchronous discussion. To address the challenges of building class community and developing academic literacies, this practice takes advantage of the unique interactive and transactional features of asynchronous discussion (in accordance with CCCC OWI Principle 3), features that allow instructors to introduce students to new literacy practices in a social context and incremental manner, a process of gradual attunement, as suggested in current writings on literacy pedagogy (in accordance with CCCC OWI Principle 4). At the same time, orchestrated discussion builds community (CCCC OWI Principle 11) among participants by encouraging purposeful direct engagement with each other's postings.
The teaching approach outlined here combines short, small-group synchronous online class meetings with asynchronous activities in order to deliver dense content while encouraging student engagement and participation. This approach was originally employed in an upper-level Rhetoric course that started as a f2f course in Spring 2020 but moved online due to COVID-19. As remote instruction continues for Fall 2020, this article will explain how a dual approach to remote instruction can be carried out for content-heavy courses across the disciplines. The practice addresses OWI Principle 1 and OWI Principle 4.
The Provoker is a contradictory voice on the course discussions who challenges students with hyperbolic and oftentimes outrageous positions. Teachers who use discussion boards as dialogue platforms in their courses as regular practice can add a Provoker thread. The goal is to help students develop arguments using evidence, logic, and rhetorical skill—instead of succumbing to hostile discourse; indeed, a key strategy of Provoker threads is to help students practice civilized, respectful digital discourse.
This example demonstrates how to create screencast videos for feedback, which helps online writing faculty to indicate specific needs for revision within student assignments, discuss possible approaches for revising, display assignment rubrics to specify criteria that are and are not being met, direct writers to online resources, and give “voiced” affirmations to developing writers. The example provided here addresses OWI Principle 3: "Appropriate composition teaching/learning strategies should be developed for the unique features of the online instructional environment."
Team projects are always difficult to supervise, but online courses present unique challenges: The instructor has limited opportunity for real-time observations of and interactions with student teams, as they collaborate virtually in digital spaces. Still, virtual collaboration is an important skillset to develop, given that distributed teams are becoming more common in the workplace. Team projects in online courses create—for both instructors and students—a double burden of working with subject content and developing successful strategies for virtual communication and work processes (Paretti et al., 2007, p. 331). I encourage a layered approach to teamwork through my efforts to scaffold—to structure—team projects in online writing courses. Students have ongoing scheduled check-ins with me, which they can use as a starting point for their more detailed team schedule. These check-ins include at least one synchronous meeting and a combination of individual and team assignments that build towards the final deliverables.
I have used think-aloud protocols in 300-level research writing in the disciplines courses, 100-level face-to-face first-year writing courses, and an online, asynchronous first year-writing course. The online course, English 102: Intermediate College Writing, was delivered at a four-year, public research university through the institution’s LMS (Blackboard). Think-aloud protocols, however, can be used in a variety of other courses, such as business and technical writing courses. Think-aloud protocols can also be used by instructors in other disciplines to help make tacit knowledge and practices explicit for students.
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