Discusses the use of synchronous conferences via electronic mail in training new writing tutors, highlighting the benefits of such an approach.
The long list of “online writing labs,” or OWLs, compiled by the University of Maine’s Writing Center Online offers testament to the range of writing services establishing an identity in cyberspace. Clever and memorable as it is, the acronym OWL can hardly begin to describe the work accomplished in this variety of sites.
The purpose of this review is to identify which on-line writing labs (OWLs) have resources specifically for English as a Second Language (ESL) students and what kinds of resources are available.
As in the natural world, cyberOWLs come in a variety of species, from completely online, full-service writing centers to those that serve to announce their existence. Rising early enough one day to hunt OWLs, I went searching through the dark, wooded forests of the cyber-jungle and identified the names of some 93 self-styled OWLs!
The Internet, an electronic network linking computers throughout the world, invites teachers to explore its uses for writing instruction because it is a text-based environment. Users communicate by writing messages that travel out onto the Internet, read the prose in its vast pool of resources, and gather information from those resources for their own writing.
Online conferencing, including both synchronous and asynchronous exchanges, started in the composition classroom and moved to the writing center. Writing centers, no longer limited to face-to-face encounters, have begun exploring the potential of electronic conferencing.
Although writing centers have used computers for over a decade now, they have used them primarily in autotutorials (computer-assisted instruction) and for word processing. These applications reflect the influence of the process movement in composition studies and the writing center’s commitment to the individual writer.
The Writing Center Consultation Project is a collaboration between the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR) and the Oak Ridge campus of Roane State Community College (RSCC) in Tennessee. Undergraduate RSCC students e-mail drafts of their essays to graduate students at UALR who then return the drafts through e-mail along with comments.
It has always seemed to us that all writing takes place in a kind of virtual reality involving one’s vision, one’s ideas, and one’s voice. When viewed in this manner, creating a writing center in Cyberspace is not a particularly alien concept.
Daedalus Interchange, an online synchronous conferencing program, fits well with writing center tutor training philosophies that are based on the social and dynamic construction of knowledge with each member of a community having a voice.