Moving Your Course Online

If you have never taught a writing-intensive course online, you may be feeling a bit overwhelmed about doing so now in the midst of the COVID-19 emergency. This page is designed to support you as you are making the transition. You are also welcome to contact the Writing Institute for more information or just to talk through your plans.

Many experienced teachers of writing have been compiling advice and strategies for teaching writing classes online for the past few days:

If you find those lists overwhelming here are some simple opening moves:

What access to technology do your students have? Ask them if they will have a computer, internet access, and, if relevant, access to specialized software that they may have been using in the computer labs. The answers to these questions may determine what is possible for your course.

Given the constraints that we are dealing with and the fact that we have lost a week of the term, what are reasonable goals for your course? What do you need to teach and what do students need to learn? If all your students have access to technology, how can you set students up to accomplish those goals using online tools? 

The Center for Teaching and Learning offers a lot of ideas about using tools available in Canvas, Blackboard, Teams, or other platforms that we can use to accomplish goals with our students. 

Those tools can allow you to put students in small groups for discussions or can help you run larger discussions. They can enable you to offer comments on student work or allow you to teach students strategies for writing and revision via a video or screen capture. They can even allow you to hold online office hours.

Remember to have compassion for your students and for yourself. This is a stressful time in our culture, and moving instruction online is not easy for anyone involved.