Resisting the rhetoric of migration in online writing classes
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Resisting the Rhetoric of Migration in Online Writing Classes. Lee-Ann Kastman Breuch Timothy Oleksiak Department of Writing Studies, University of Minnesota. Question. How can we understand the rhetoric of migration in online writing instruction?

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Resisting the Rhetoric of Migration in Online Writing Classes

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Resisting the rhetoric of migration in online writing classes

Resisting the Rhetoric of Migrationin Online Writing Classes

Lee-Ann KastmanBreuch

Timothy Oleksiak

Department of Writing Studies, University of Minnesota



  • How can we understand the rhetoric of migration in online writing instruction?

  • How can instructors resist the rhetoric of migration in online writing instruction?

Rhetoric of migration

Rhetoric of Migration?

“Teachers and administrators, to include those in writing centers, typically are simply migrating traditional face-to-face writing pedagogies to the online setting—both fully online and hybrid. Theory and practice specific to OWI has yet to be fully developed and engaged in postsecondary online settings across the United States” (7).4Cs Committee on Best Practices in Online Writing Instruction

4cs committee on best practices in online writing instruction

4Cs Committee on Best Practices in Online Writing Instruction

  • Charge 1:  Identify and examine best strategies for teaching writing in blended, hybrid, and distance-based writing classrooms.

  • Charge 2:  Identify best practices for English language learners and individuals with disabilities.

  • Charge 3:  Create a Position Statement on the Principles and Standards for OWI Preparation and Instruction. 

  • Charge 4: Share best practices in OWI with the CCCC membership in a variety of formats.

Owi best practices survey

OWI Best Practices Survey

  • Two national surveys conducted

    • January-April 2010

    • Online writing instructors: 158 respondents

    • Hybrid writing instructors: 139 respondents

Owi best practices survey1

OWI Best Practices Survey

  • Questions addressed

    • Learning effectiveness

    • Access

    • Student and instructor satisfaction

    • Mode of instruction

    • Environment

    • Professional Development

    • Future Research

Themes in survey findings

Themes in Survey Findings

  • Pedagogy: no full OWI pedagogy developed

  • Training: more training is needed for both hybrid and online instruction

  • Supplemental Support: not enough resources to support all students in OWI classes

Themes in survey findings1

Themes in Survey Findings

  • English Language (L2) Learners: needs are not known in online setting

  • Students with Disabilities: compliance with ADA is needed; many unknown needs

  • Satisfaction: instructors are dissatisfied with technological support, enrollment caps, training, pay, and professional development

How w e define rhetoric of migration

How We Define Rhetoric of Migration

The rhetoric of migration suggests that online writing instruction is simply a transfer of face-to-face pedagogy to online environments.

Rhetoric of migration is pervasive

Rhetoric of Migration is Pervasive

  • The Online Writing Classroom (Harrington, Rickly, & Day 2001)

  • Preparing Teachers for Online Writing Instruction (Hewett and Ehmann 2004)

  • Online Education: Global Questions, Local Answers (Cargile Cook & Grant-Davie 2005)

  • Online Writing Instruction: How & Why (Warnock 2009)

  • Teaching Online: A Practical Guide (Ko & Rosen 2010)

Rhetoric of migration favors f2f environments

Rhetoric of Migration Favors F2F Environments

  • The rhetoric of migration minimizes the distinctions between face-to-face and online writing instruction

    • “A central issue in course design is the challenge of creating a virtual environment that recreates the best qualities of face-to-face interactive teaching and learning” (Grady & Davis 102).

    • Teachers “can approach teaching online more confidently if [they] view [OWI] as not being different from teaching onsite” (Warnock xii)

Rhetoric of migration emphasizes teacher anxieties

Rhetoric of Migration Emphasizes Teacher Anxieties

  • Terms like “anxiety” and “nervous” are left unexplored.

    • “… we find that many others worldwide continue to regard the prospect of teaching online with trepidation and anxiety (Ko & Rossen xvii).

    • “Those who do not move so quickly [through OWI training] might express disproportionately negative concerns about their abilities to adapt to an online teaching environment when all they really need is a different way of thinking about the challenge at hand the the time to discover and assimilate possible solutions” (Hewett & Ehmann 15).

Rhetoric of migration emphasizes technology as a tool

Rhetoric of Migration Emphasizes Technology as a Tool

  • Frequently reduces OWI to concerns with “functional literacy”

    • “Technology, however, is but a tool, and has no intrinsic value, except that which is given to it. Thus, it is up to teachers to master their tools and use them to good advantage” (Watts & Taniguchi 187).

    • Special case of Hewett and Ehmann

Rhetoric of migration separates theory from owi

Rhetoric of Migration Separates Theory from OWI

  • Distinctions between theory of writing on one hand and managing technology on the other hand exacerbate our profession’s ability to focus on a new OWI praxis that accounts for both.

    • “[Our book] is more concerned with the ‘whys’ and hows’ of implementation than with theory, not because we do not value pedagogical theory but because it is discussed and critiqued more effectively elsewhere” (Ko &Rosen xvii).

    • “We hope to get you up and running as quickly as possible” (Ko & Rosen xviii).

Resistance is not futile

Resistance is Not Futile

  • Develop more robust understandings of technology and computer use beyond tool functions; examine multiliteracies (Selber)

  • Reduce gap between theory and practice: Examine the possibilities, rather than limitations, of teaching in online spaces through multimodality (Kress, Wysocki, Selfe)

  • Provide instructor training that addresses “triadic reciprocality” of environment, internal, and external influences (Rendahl and Breuch)



Thank you!



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