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Example Effective Practices for OWI Principle 13

OWI Principle 13: OWI students should be provided support components through online/digital media as a primary resource; they should have access to onsite support components as a secondary set of resources.

Effective Practice 13.1: At all institutions where OWI is practiced—whether or not an onsite writing center is available—an OWL should be developed and provided to OWI students. Like the traditional writing center instruction that uses a one-to-one model and oral discussion between the student and the tutor, OWL feedback uses a one-to-one model and interpersonal connections to address students within the online environment. Fundamentally, an OWL is capable of providing appropriate support to OWC students. As such, an OWL’s work should be understood as a dialogue-intensive exchange in which the tutor uses questions to engage the student and to interact with the text.

Effective Practice 13.2: OWL support should match the course modality and media. For instance, if the course is asynchronous, then asynchronous tutoring should be available. If the course is synchronous through voice and video, then the online tutor should be available synchronously through voice and video. For hybrid courses, both a traditional onsite writing center and an OWL should be available. Whenever possible, asynchronous and synchronous online tutorial support should be available to all online writing students, in keeping with an accessible OWI program (see OWI Principle 1).

Effective Practice 13.3: OWI teachers should teach their students how to use the OWL, how to read and interpret any textual feedback or advice, and how to make decisions about the uses of that feedback in their writing. Example strategies for accomplishing these goals include the following:

  • Students should be disabused of the belief that OWLs are editing services where they can send their papers to be “fixed” and returned immediately. To this end, teacher instruction should include the fact that OWLs are teaching facilities and that using OWLs takes time, energy, discipline, and commitment on the part of the student.
  • Teachers might ask students to make an appointment with a tutor at the OWL to work on an early draft of their essay. This guidance may help OWL tutors to set expectations with students and begin developing an ongoing relationship with them. 
  • In asynchronous, synchronous, and hybrid OWCs, students can work with an online tutor in the “pre-writing” and drafting stages of writing either asynchronously, synchronously, or both, respective of their OWC modality. Students can then submit archives of those initial synchronous discussions with the final draft of their essay/writing piece to the teachers as a longitudinal record. To underscore their learning, students might be asked to write metacognitively about why and how they chose to use certain feedback.
  • To encourage online interaction with students, asynchronous OWLs may provide both detailed expectations of online tutoring (i.e., copied and pasted from a standard statement and then individualized) and an initial response for the student. They might require the student to respond to the tutor’s initial response before getting more feedback. This asynchronous exchange of text would be intended to encourage more robust conversation.

Effective Practice 13.4: Teachers should communicate with the institution’s OWL, providing valuable information about course assignments and writing expectations to be shared with the tutors.

Effective Practice 13.5: To encourage adequate online engagement with students, OWLs should have access to as many of the latest technologies as possible, including online interactive media, live chat, and mobile device applications.

Effective Practice 13.6: If both asynchronous and synchronous modalities are offered in the OWL, tutors and students should be led to use the modality most suited to their tutorial goals and particular needs. For example, asynchronous tutoring may work best with receiving both global and local response to a draft, while synchronous tutoring may work best with brainstorming an idea or working intensively with one of the student’s chosen concerns (e.g., thesis, introduction, and outline of arguments).

Effective Practice 13.7: Writing centers should continue to explore ways to engage students online, finding new means to interact with students and their texts as technology continues to provide new opportunities.

Effective Practice 13.8: OWI students should have equal access to institutional library resources. Online access to journal articles and books should be a priority; in its absence, a rapid-delivery system for copied journal articles and for borrowing books should be made available to students.

Effective Practice 13.9: OWI students should have online and phone access to institutional IT assistance with broad access. It is reasonable for the anytime learner to expect 24/7 access to accommodate the time flexible learning schedules made available by online courses.

Effective Practice 13.10: OWI students should have equal access to the institution’s full array of counseling. It is reasonable for the anytime learner to expect 24/7 access to accommodate the time flexible learning schedules made available by online courses.

Rationale for OWI Principle 13

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