This research reports on a comparative analysis of online and in-person tutoring at three different universities, focusing on tutor self-perceptions and on affordances, a concept drawn from systems engineering, human-computer interaction and ecological psychology.
In part 2 of this post, the author details the piloting of screencast software as an additional tool the writing center is using in their e-mail feedback to students. He reports positive anecdotes from students who received the screencasts, but poses some important questions about the efficacy and use of screencasts in writing centers.
Those of us lucky enough to teach in a classroom or tutor in a writing center recognize how much learning can happen in a 30-minute conversation. Spending those same 30 minutes writing comments on a student’s paper can feel like we’re teaching only a fraction of what we’re capable of, and yet writing these comments is an enormous part of our work!
The history of online writing centers is a history of doubt. I experienced those reservations in 2009, when, in addition to traditional face-to-face peer tutoring, I launched my own online peer tutoring program and began training undergraduates to respond to student submissions.
The purpose of this article is to share lessons learned in setting up three different peer online writing centers in three different contexts (EFL, Generation 1.5, and ESL). In each center the focus was on the language learner as a peer online writing advisor and their needs in maintaining centers “for and by” learners.
Like many writing center directors, I was hesitant to introduce online tutoring. However, because of limited physical space on campus, the internet provides the only room for growth available to us—a problem faced by many writing centers (Carpenter 2). The inevitability of online growth is also supported by the increase of tertiary-level online and blended courses being offered at most post-secondary schools.
Beth L. Hewett’s The Online Writing Conference addresses three under-represented yet significant areas of online writing instruction (OWI): the theory and practice of textual exchanges, the nature and substance of dialogic interactions, and the wisdom of depending on traditional face-to-face writing theories and pedagogies to drive the work of OWI.
In an attempt to organise a model that can be used for improving needs analysis efforts, this dissertation concludes that writing centres can benefit by: (1) using custom online asynchronous platforms; (2) collecting more and varied information; (3) using reports educationally; and (4) effectively training and positioning tutors to conduct needs analysis.
In what follows, I briefly situate this conversation about distance tutoring within the rhetorical canon of delivery. Then, I describe my own experiences tutoring in a graduate writing center (GWC) at Penn State University as a way to add experiential examples to Grutsch McKinney’s discussion of Skype and Google Documents (Google Docs).
This document describes OWI principles and example effective practices for teaching writing in the online learning contexts common in postsecondary education.