12:30 pm-1:30 pm EST: Concurrent Session Two
Site Share Panel 1
“The Cart Before the Horse: One Program’s Missteps in Shifting to OWI”
--Cat Mahaffey, University of North Carolina-Charlotte
--Ashlyn Walden, University of North Carolina-Charlotte
--Julie Cook, University of North Carolina-Charlotte
Our FYW program shifted to a blended course model over a period of two years, beginning in 2015. Prior to 2015, no one in our program had any training in teaching online, and this knowledge gap resulted in several key missteps:
- Underestimated time for even basic faculty training in online writing instruction (OWI)
- Over-reliance on a few untrained faculty charged with creating a pool of online modules)
- Pilots taught by untrained faculty)
- Professional development not keeping pace with programmatic development)
This panel, which includes both senior lecturers and administrators, will share successes and struggles related to our program’s shift to OWI. Panelist 1 will share her perspective as an administrator and the challenges related to finding adequate training materials related to OWI. Many of the missteps are a direct result of this lack of access to resources as the program administration was forced to create its own. Panelist 2 will discuss her experience as a pilot instructor for the blended courses. Administration offered pilot instructors a great deal of resource material, but those materials lacked any framework around OWI best practices. This resulted in an extended process of trial and error that could have been avoided. Panelist 3 will present challenges in creating an OWI training course for faculty three years after programmatic stifts to blended learning curricula were well established. Offering highsight and foresight takeaways, panelist 3 addresses concerns, constraints, and possibilities for professional development post programmatic development.
“Transfer Not Translation: Threshold Concepts in Online Writing Courses”
--Lauren Salisbury, Bowling Green State University
Online courses are often presented as a cost-effective way to meet the needs of diverse populations of students (Bourelle, Rankins-Robertson, Bourelle, & Roen, 2013). While there are some institutionally supported—and often even mandated—guidelines for teaching online, these requirements often serve to police rather than assist instructor-facilitators to design courses that take disciplinary and pedagogical methods into consideration. Similarly, disciplinary position statements like those drafted by the Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC) Committee for Best Practices in Online Writing Instruction (OWI) (2013) focus more on institutional practices like staffing rather than the pedagogical practices to guide effective online instruction. In fact, OWI Principle 4 states, “Appropriate onsite composition theories, pedagogies, and strategies should be migrated and adapted to the online instructional environment” encouraging a translation approach to OWI that does not consider the specifics of how to teach effectively online. As a result, a gap still exists for online writing instructors who want to do more than translate face-to-face curriculum to online environments or apply institutional, non-contextual principles to their pedagogy.
I propose, to address this gap, instructors apply Adler-Kassner and Wardle’s (2015) threshold concepts to OWI design and practice. Their collection is devoted to understanding how threshold concepts are used in writing instruction practices, however, contributors to this collection all assume a face-to-face context limiting the scope and overlooking the rising number of instructors who teach online. This presentation articulates methods for applying these concepts to OWI with particular attention to the way threshold concepts provide not a list or rubric to assess effective teaching practices or student learning outcomes but rather a web of interconnected ideas that are foundational to understanding what writing is and how writers do writing. Threshold concepts are, as demonstrated in Naming What We Know, applicable to a wide variety of teaching contexts and approaches and, rather than serve as a rulebook for effective instruction, supply instructors with a foundation to reimagine online instruction as a new pedagogical terrain, not a site of translation.
To reimagine the application of threshold concepts in this context, this presentation considers how to apply them as a conceptual framework for OWI. I will address specific areas for understanding significant to OWI and apply threshold concepts to these categories. I will then describe specific questions and practices for online instructors to consider as they apply these concepts to their online writing courses (OWCs) with the goal of considering OWI as a distinct site of instruction that requires teachers to not just translate but rethink their teaching practices for a new learning environment.
“OWI for UDI”
--Jessica Ulmer, Midlands Technical College
Very few differently abled adults even attempt the college experience and even fewer successfully navigate the world of postsecondary education. I propose that we, as online writing instructors, can use online writing instruction purposefully to provide universal environments in which all students, including those who are differently abled can be successful. By incorporating the first OWI principle with the three guidelines for Universal Design for Instruction, we can ensure that these students have the same opportunity to obtain a postsecondary education as their otherwise-abled counterparts.
“Professional Learning Communities and the Online Writing Center”
--Nikki Holland, Western Governors University
While common in the K-12 setting, professional learning communities (PLCs) in the post-secondary environment tend to be less formal and to emerge more organically among faculty within and across institutions who share similar interests and questions. In the online environment, when faculty work remotely and informal interaction is less common, PLCs provide a critical space for collaborative inquiry. This year, for the first time, faculty in our online writing center have been invited to participate in an online PLC centered on exploring strategies for how to empower the multilingual students who work with the writing center to develop competency as confident and independent writers. This group is working together to contextualize our inquiry in the current Second Language Studies research and aims to share findings with faculty both within the Writing Center and across the institution. In institutions where professional Writing Center faculty may feel the desire not only to support students directly but also to put their credentials to work in the study and application of current research, the PLC can be a welcome professional space for the inquiry process central to a reflective practice.