This study highlights the writing difficulty of tertiary students in ESL or EFL contexts. It describes two successful innovations, writing center and online writing lab, initiated by North American institutions of higher learning to intervene in the writing crisis.
Only recently has the community problematized space, moving the dialogue from what a center should do to what it means when a center does. In this critical vein, we approach our review of writing centers as spaces that impact their participants. Our treatment of writing center spaces follows a continuum. We move from the material, tangible, physical writing center to the more ethereal, digital space. We explore what it means to occupy a particular space and what identity constructions are possible in our physical and digital spaces.
David Coogan did report his work on e-mail-based tutoring with his own tutees and graduate student tutors, but he did not focus particularly on faculty as tutors (32). So, as we continued our work with faculty and student tutors, we wondered whether there is, indeed, a significant difference between faculty tutors and student tutors in our online setting.
Today’s deaf college students are expected to succeed academically despite language and learning challenges (Paul, 2009). As a support service, the benefits of tutoring have been well documented; however, research using remote tutoring with deaf college students is lacking. This Action Research study examined the activities (actions and interactions) that occurred during twenty-two remote-tutoring sessions with nine deaf students in my English class.
In graduate school I was assigned to work as the Undergraduate Writing Center’s (UWC) Assistant Coordinator to fulfill part of my assistantship obligations. When I arrived, the Center’s Online Writing Lab (OWL) was available to a limited population of writers who could submit their work via Google’s asynchronous g-mail.
In a recent Kairos article, “Expanding the Space of f2f,” Melanie Yergeau, Katie Wozniak, and Peter Vandenberg make the case for online synchronous tutoring. Though arguments for online tutoring, synchronous or not, have been made frequently over the last fifteen years, what is different about this piece is an emphasis on what they called “audio-video-textual conferencing” or AVT tutoring.
In the course of attempting to respond productively to papers well beyond my ken (and often feeling I’ve failed miserably), I gradually developed some ideas about how to approach doing e-mail tutoring outside my areas of expertise.
This dissertation examines the theory and praxis of taking an expanded concept of the human-computer interface (HCI) and working with the resulting concept to design a writing center website that facilitates online tutoring while fostering a conversational approach for online tutoring sessions.
While OWLs (online writing labs) have been a presence for many years, online learning—and therefore online conferencing—in writing classes has not. Beth L. Hewett’s The Online Writing Conference: A Guide for Teachers and Tutors has joined this lively conversation at a critical moment. How does this book speak to the controversy? How does it speak to writing centers?
Yet as we work to keep our writing centers responsive to a student body that is increasingly savvy with technology and in some cases geographically dispersed, we look to electronic spaces to explore new options for writing center practice. The “virtual world” called Second Life offers such an opportunity.