This essay describes the development of an ESL OWL by grounding practices in language and literacy pedagogy theory. An initial discussion explores OWLs emulating physical writing center spaces. Two areas of concern are then addressed in meeting the needs of second language writers as they relate to practices and training for online tutoring: error correction—an area of frequent concern to second language writers—and increased interactivity—meeting second language writer expectations and creating autonomous learners.
Keywords Asynchronous, Synchronous, Tutor training, Tutor hiring, Technology First Paragraph So your writing center is going online? You’ve learned how to help many student writers in a traditional face-to-face situation-but how do you prepare for helping writers who meet with you in online tutoring sessions? With the kinds of changes that technology brings to writing …
Many law school Legal Writing programs are now using web-sites containing program descriptions, syllabi, course materials, discussion boards, and links to online research and writing re-sources. Several of these websites have links to online university writing labs (OWLs), which provide students with easy access to information about grammar, punctuation, and style.
Given that the tutor is reduced to an onscreen presence in online chat, there is a need to create frameworks to help define effective tutor behaviour in this medium. Here, tutor moves are categorised according to function and analysed in relation to their perceived effect on students’ contributions.
Our tale may be of some use because we learned to think small while constructing our online site, with a focus on meeting local needs and extending—rather than changing—our writing center’s pedagogy, based upon a theory of knowledge as contextual and socially constructed.
Although research about online writing centers is more prevalent and, to some extent, has legitimized the existence of centers online, we find in our own experience that more research is needed to understand the unique needs of an expanding online writing center.
The purpose of this chapter is to consider the theoretical underpinnings that are common to most OWLs as virtual writing centers, despite the variant natures of individual OWLs.
Tutors provide students with an audience, readers who respond to and describe what has been communicated in the students’ writing, and then tutors help identify ways to communicate in writing more effectively. To do this, tutors offer a wide variety of feedback, knowing that all strategies will not appeal to all students, therefore using presentation methods that will appeal to, and not alienate, a variety of students.