For the on-line discussion, we are using Web Review. It creates threaded
discussions and allows us to create topics (related to the readings) that
help us keep things organized. It's an IBM in-house product that we have
adapted to the course. and except for a few really strange interface
problems, we like it. It doesn't take too long to figure out.
Our main problem has been associated with the on-line peer editing and
evaluating of drafts. I explored 3 packages:Common Space, Web Board, and
the annotation functions in Word. Originally I wanted the on-line editing
to occur in an HTML environment as I wanted 2 editors to work on and
discuss a third student's paper. I use this procedure in my on-campus
course and it works a lot btter than dividing them in pairs. This need
ruled out Common Space (although I like it a lot) as it could not function
in an HTML environment and also it added a fair bit of extra cost to the
Web review did work in an HTML environment, and we gave it a good try. But
perhaps because it was designed for intra-net environment in an
organizational context, it truely failed to suit our needs. The system
numbered every sentence and you could only input advice or comments at the
end of each sentence. Original paragraphing was lost and the system created
such miserable looking, hierachical looking pages that we just gave up on
it. And it crashed the university's server.
So now we are using the annotation functions in Word. They are actually
fun to play with. You can insert comments and delete and add and shove
things around in interesting ways. Moreover the interface clearly
distinguishes between the original text and any suggested changes. I like
the fact too that comments don't actually interfere with the student's text.
Rather they appear as pop-ups as you move the cursor along the page.
Our next problem will be to find a way to keep the web site itself
up-to-date and fresh. right now making and serious changes is difficult.
We have heard, however, of a new product called Live Page that might help
So we have created a system wherein the students email us their papers and
we distribute them among the editors. We have had to invent some management
tools to help keep track of all this.
We also make sure at the beginning of the course that everyone has the same
software and in fact the university offers students a pretty good deal so
that they can purchase Word 7 cheaply.
I have also recently learned that in its next rebirth Word will have a
function that will allow users to compose in Word and then publish directly
to an HTML environment. this will help a lot.
Other features also make the course possible-- the library now has an
excellent electronic interface. Students really can do detailed searches
on-line and even find scholarly material. It is these kinds of resources
that makes this kind of course possible now.
From: Natasha Artemeva <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask] <[log in to unmask]>
Date: March 11, 1999 7:42 AM
Subject: Re: Issues in Composition at Cdn. universities
>c schryer wrote:
>> In the process of doing this, I learned a lot about the development of
>> on-line courses and software requirements--especially about annotation
>> software for providing commentary on drafts.
>What software are you using?
>What I've been trying to do with my Engineering Communication course
>sounds very much like what you describe. By the way, I think that
>teaching a quality online writing course requires even more time from
>the instructor than teaching a traditional course. All these dreams of
>cheap courses do not seem to be realistic.
>Engineering Communication Program Coordinator
>School of Linguistics and
>Applied Language Studies
>Tel.+1 (613) 520-2600 ext.7452
>Fax +1 (613) 520-6641