The OWC Community was founded in 2018 by Sarah Prince, Beth Nastachowski, Cynthia Pengilly, and Jenelle M. Dembsey, after IWCA’s 2017 Conference in Chicago. The co-founders often worked alone in their endeavors to advance academic and scholarly conversations about OWC work but also longed for a vibrant community that would keep them connected to other OWC scholars and practitioners beyond the annual conference(s). This community represents that vision—a dynamic and interactive space tailored for online writing centers—and we hope you’ll consider joining us.

How We Define Online Writing Centers

We support an expansive definition of online writing centers (OWCs) and online writing center work, as follows:

  • OWC work can occur in on-site or fully online learning commons, undergraduate centers, graduate centers, community centers, secondary- or high-school centers, and professional or corporate centers.
  • OWCs extend beyond the use of static websites, web-based scheduling systems, videos, or virtual handouts. Instead, OWCs include dynamic and/or interactive online writing support services such as asynchronous and synchronous consulting/tutoring, workshops, and question-and-answer services, among many other forms of support.
  • Because technology and pedagogy are inextricably connected in online writing center work, we remain open to innovation and the ways in which OWC work is defined, discussed, and designed.


OWC Community Mission

The Online Writing Center Community website brings together tutors, consultants, professionals, and administrators from writing and learning centers to establish online writing support as a professional area of study.

The following tabs outline the OWC Community values and activities, which are drawn from this mission.


OWC Community Values

Online writing center work is both similar to and different from online writing instruction and face-to-face writing support. While there are overlaps, the differences necessitate unique conversations, theories, and practices for online writing support. Therefore, we value the following:

  • A basic tenet that receiving online writing support is a powerful and effective mode of learning.
  • An inclusive vision of online writing center work that welcomes all modes, modalities, and technology platforms that consider the local context and/or empirical research.
  • A recognition that online writing support can and should look different depending on the unique needs of the institutional or corporate context.
  • A praxis-oriented model that moves beyond conversations of whether or not online writing center work is effective and instead focuses on how and why this work is effective in various contexts.
  • A focus on accessibility, both broadly and narrowly, in that materials and services are available in multiple, flexible formats for as many people as possible and are equally usable by persons with disabilities and by assistive technologies.
  • An emphasis on emerging research, theories, and practices that aim to extend the conversation in online writing support beyond foundational research and seminal texts.
  • The equal significance of formal and informal publications in online writing center studies, as both contribute to the intellectual, pedagogical, and theoretical knowledge of online writing support.
  • Training and professional development that is specifically focused on online writing support and prepares for varying technological literacies.


OWC Community Activities

The Online Writing Center Community website promotes initiatives that support the contextual needs of writing and learning centers, professionalization opportunities related to online writing center work, and foundational and emerging research in the theory and practice of online writing support. Thus, activities to promote our values may include:

  • Serving as a repository for foundational and emerging research, case studies, and resources for both beginning and experienced OWC consultants, professionals, and administrators.
  • Promoting and expanding professionalization opportunities for those involved in online writing centers and online writing support.
  • Encouraging and fostering collaboration among online writing center community members through listservs, conference presentations, and joint research publications.
  • Formalizing connections among IWCA, CCCC, GSOLE, SIGs, regional associations, and other writing and writing center organizations to reach mutual goals about online writing center research, theory, and practice.
  • Highlighting the uniqueness and complexity of online writing center work through program profiles, conference reviews, and technology reviews.
  • Sharing all forms of work on OWCs on a larger, more accessible scale, by inviting submissions of conference presentations from the state, regional, national, and international levels; accounts of ongoing research; informal blog posts; and eventually articles for an open-access, peer-reviewed journal.

Last Updated: August 24, 2020