Classrooms, computer labs, and remote locations: Integrating the three spaces of computer aided interactive writing courses

poster / demo / art installation
  1. 1. Charles Donelan

    University of California, Santa Barbara

Work text
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Classrooms, computer labs, and remote locations:
Integrating the three spaces of computer aided interactive writing courses


University of California, Santa Barbara


University of Tübingen







Students in computer aided interactive writing courses can benefit from a
teaching approach that integrates the three spaces in which they encounter
materials and assignments. Where the paper and chalk classroom separates
in-class writing from homework, the networked course blurs the distinction
between in-class, in-lab and remote writing.
Responding to the changes brought about by CAIW will require the redefinition of
the spaces in which writing takes place. The networked computer lab is a
synchronous space in which students may give and receive feedback in real time,
but web-based interactive writing programs make remote participation in online
discussions and feedback cycles possible. The remote location is ordinarily the
site of asynchronous learning. How does bringing remote students into
synchronous activities change what can be done in the CAIW course? What can
happen in the synchronous space of the lab when it is opened to access from
remote locations?
CAIW also affects the traditional classroom. For courses that meet in both
traditional classrooms and computer labs, the new CAIW activities, which raise
levels of synchronous peer-to-peer and asynchronous remote learning so sharply,
are bound to affect the way students learn in the classroom. I will examine some
classroom effects of CAIW activities, and then present strategies for using the
traditional classroom to frame and reinforce the learning going on in the
computer lab and from remote locations.
Computer assisted interactive writing requires course designs that take full
advantage of its capabilities. Recent work at UC Santa Barbara has explored the
use of synchronous feedback exchange, web research, remote messaging, and
electronic group work in CAIW classes with positive results. Generally,
successful CAIW courses employ three strategies:
sequential, process-oriented assignments,
integration of synchronous and asynchronous communication, and
carefully directed group interaction.

Sequential assignments, used in many traditional classes, become even more
important in CAIW settings due to the temporality of on-line writing. The
ability to change on-line writing allows students more opportunities for
feedback, as well as for revisions of preliminary materials, but can also
undermine the decision-making process essential to developing a finished work.
However, a dynamic exchange of peer- and teacher review in a CAIW class can
allow students to improve their understanding of process considerably. When a
sequence of electronic pre-writing assignments replaces the traditional
deadline-and-return schedule, students recognize the essential elements of
process rather than the external necessities of a course syllabus.
Likewise, the full integration of synchronous and asynchronous exchange affords
greater flexibility for in-class assignments. Synchronous exchange enables a
more efficient distribution of student writing in peer groups and faster
communication than most traditional methods. Complementary synchronous
assignments allow individual students time to create thoughtful work and
assimilate feedback into revisions. Successful assignments in a CAIW environment
therefore generally follow an alternating pattern of synchronous and
asynchronous responses to develop an effective discourse community.
Similarly, assignment sequences require a controlled pattern of individual,
partner, and group work, with specific schedules and goals. In particular,
collaborative work enhances students understanding of realistic writing
situations, when instructors monitor, direct, and critique individual
contributions to the tasks of management and production. Employing all three
course design strategies successfully has created dynamic, interesting
communities of writers.

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Conference Info

In review

"New Directions in Humanities Computing"

Hosted at Universität Tübingen (University of Tubingen / Tuebingen)

Tübingen, Germany

July 23, 2002 - July 28, 2008

72 works by 136 authors indexed

Affiliations need to be double-checked.

Conference website:

Series: ALLC/EADH (29), ACH/ICCH (22), ACH/ALLC (14)

Organizers: ACH, ALLC

  • Keywords: None
  • Language: English
  • Topics: None