Introducing Online Writing Instruction

So, as is custom, I am posting my once-yearly blog on the first day of the fall term in hopes that I will, you know, blog more than once a year. I am certain that, had I a magic 8-ball, it would read “Outlook not so good.”

But still. Here it is.

So, this fall, I am teaching two courses in what will hopefully be the Graduate Certificate in Online Writing Instruction*: Intro to Online Writing Instruction and Multimedia in Online Writing Instruction. These courses, and the potential certificate, have taken four years to materialize. I first pitched them as an e-Learning Certificate at Eastern Oregon University. No go. So, when I came to UALR in 2013, I revamped my proposal to focus more on writing instruction than e-Learning in general, and voila! Only two years later, the courses are in the books, up in Blackboard, and ready to go.

For those of you who haven’t been close to me in the last two years and thus haven’t heard me incessantly discuss this, the OWI Certificate program is designed to help faculty develop courses based on the CCCC OWI Position Statement of Principles and Example Effective Practices. In designing the first class, I modified Principles 1, 3, 4 & 11 to make them operational as learning outcomes. The process of doing this was fascinating. How do you indicate, in an online class for online teachers who are online learners, how you want them to be able to demonstrate, understand, etc. effective principles of online writing instruction? I found myself combining some example effective practice statements from different areas of the document that were very similar and modifying the language on other statements that didn’t really make sense to me when operationalized.

The fact that the course is both 1) online and 2) teaching students about online principles has kept me up at night. Am I demonstrating every principle I am asking my students to demonstrate??? Is my course fully accessible? Are my assignments chunky enough? Am I allowing multiple opportunities for interaction?

Time will tell. I hope that I am practicing what I preach and preaching what I practice.

In the meantime, here’s an inspirational video that my daughter’s first grade teacher showed at orientation. It pretty much sums up what I hope to do/be this term as I learn how to teach by teaching.