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GOING ONLINE: THE POTENTIAL FOR ONE-TO-ONE SYNCRHONOUS SUPPORT IN UK HIGHER EDUCATION. WRITE NOW CETL London Metropolitan University. London Met Writing Centre: 2000 peer tutorials 2006-09 (over 900 in ’08-’09) Collaborative and non-directive

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going online the potential for one to one syncrhonous support in uk higher education



London Metropolitan University

London Met Writing Centre: 2000 peer tutorials 2006-09 (over 900 in ’08-’09)
  • Collaborative and non-directive
  • Campuses all over London: outreach problem for Writing Centre
  • London Met students not campus based and often at work all day
  • Blended learning – T and L strategy
  • How can a study skills/writing development unit flourish in such an environment?
  • Discussed since mid-1990s
  • Different models
    • Resource repositories (Purdue etc)
    • Asynchronous models: email feedback; “writing cafes” / discussion boards
    • Synchronous chat
  • We focused on latter as our research brought out importance of collaboration/non-directive approaches/rapport
  • Note in UK: Coffin and Goodman: “Academic Writing in an Electronic Environment” in Teaching Academic Writing: A Toolkit for Higher Education. Talks about electronic conferencing (discussion boards) but not synchronous chat.
synchronous chat
Synchronous chat
  • Research 2006-07: IPA study stressing importance of rapport, collaborative learning, and “doing writing” in the tutorial which we then built into our training
  • Lillis on AcLits: the pedagogical outcome of Academic Literacies is likely to be dialogues between student-writers and tutor-readers which “enable participation in dominant academic literacy practices as well as provide opportunities for challenging aspects of such practices” (2006, p.33).
yergeau et al on audio visual textual conferencing
Yergeau et al.on audio-visual-textual conferencing
  • Scholarship that promotes email-based tutoring often acknolwedges the loss of phatic communication, gesture, tone facial expression,and body language. As DavidCarlson and Eileen Apperson-Williams (2000) concerded, in email “almost all meaning is carried through words alone” (p.233). Further, according to George Cooper,Kara Bui, and Linda Riker (2000) as well as Paula Gillespie and Neal Lerner (2003), scholarship and tutor training materials about email-based tutoring routinely stress the need to compensate for ways in which asynchronous textual exchanges imperil the peer-tutoring relationship…In this webtext we propose synchronous AVT as a positive approximation of the conventional f2f tutorial and as an alternative to email-based tutoring, By sustaining the interpersonal collaboration and dialogue that, as Stephen North’s (1984) famous essay noted, are “the essence of the writing center method” (p.443), AVT offers writing centers a useful alternative to face-to-face and email-based sessions.”
our quest
Our Quest

Our Initial Focus

  • Simple
  • Collaborative
  • Recording
  • Inexpensive
  • Synchronous chat?
our quest1
Our Quest

Second Life

  • Chat
  • document sharing
  • immersive
  • steep learning curve


  • Designed specifically foronline Writing Tutorials
  • Integrated administration
  • A bit slow
  • Chat window quite small
  • Mentors reluctant to use
the quest
The Quest


  • Inexpensive
  • Synchronous chat
  • Nice look and feel
  • Easy to use
  • Easy to access transcripts
  • upload documents
  • Hard to chat and share
  • Administrative hurdles
our quest2
Our Quest

Adobe Connect

  • Free
  • Fairly intuitive
  • Sync Chat andDocument annotation
  • Professional look
  • Flexible
our quest3
Our Quest

Adobe Connect

  • Student Feedback

“it was easily accessible and is saved a lot of time as i did not have to travel all the way to uni for the same session”

“Nothing to add other than very efficient use of resources for the uni and convenient for students, someone in management must be on the ball!”

All found it easy to use and thought it was a good use of their time.

  • Mentor Feedback
    • impressed by doc annotation tools
    • Enthusiastic to use and experiment
  • From our perspective
    • powerful tool, easy to customize
    • Administration
pilot overview
Pilot Overview
  • Addresses needs and preferences of students
    • attendance from home
    • out of hours sessions
  • Other opportunities
    • WiD in blended context
    • Integrate multimedia tools
pilot overview1
Pilot Overview

Things we’d like to improve on technically….

  • Real-time editing
  • Control and support
  • The future - Wave?
  • Learning…..
confidence and rapport
Confidence and rapport
  • Se jin: hello
  • Ernest: took me a while to open this thing
  • Ernest: hello se jin wang
  • Se jin: hi
  • Se jin: I thought you wouldn’t come^^;;;;
  • Ernest: I am here, my friend
  • Se Jin: nice to meet you!
  • Ernest: same here
  • Ernest: what are we going to look at, se jin
  • Se Jin: I’d like to you look at my essay and correct some wrong grammar
Ernest: very well written
  • Se jin:really???
  • Ernest: your English is quite fluent
  • Se jin: thank you so much!!!!
  • Ernest:how long have you been here for?
  • Se jin: um…about 1 year and half to 2 years?
  • Ernest: you must have a lot of friends here then
  • Se jin:not quite many friends I have
  • Ernest:and you must have had a good teacher
  • Se jin:cos there was no many chance to meet friends here
  • Ernest: how come?
  • Se jin: firstly,I can’t speak English fluently
  • Ernest: you are speaking it to me now ))
  • Ernest: your written English is very good. It is very comprehensible apart from rare grammar mistakes.Your referencing is good as well. So is your bibliography. So you really have nothing to worry about.
  • Se Jin: ha ha ^^
  • Ernest: why are you laughing, Se Jin?
  • Ernest 
  • Se jin: coz I am happy kk
higher order concerns pantelis and student 0109
Higher Order Concerns:Pantelis and Student 0109:

Discussing need for thesis

P: another good idea that helps me a lot is summing up my argument in the last sentence of the introduction. What I mean by thesis is basically writing what the purpose of the essay is in one sentence at the end of your introduction.

P: so for your paper, what IS the link between homelessness and domestic violence? Is there a link? Or isn’t there?

Student: got it, thanks

P: no, no I actually want you to answer! :_

Student: ok right! Loads –psychological, cultural, you name it! So I’ll stick a sentence of this ilk into the intro - the last sentence.

P: you want to answer the title of your paper. By doing this, you keep the professor on the same track as your line of thought and you also help yourself because you are able to keep checking back to your introduction and keep yourself on track!

P: back to reading-
  • P: you write really well btw! This is a pleasure to read!
  • Student: thanks, sorry it is a depressing subject lol
  • P: no problem: I’ve just realised something. Is one of the central links between homelessness and domestic violence the fact that women run away from the violence, therefore becoming homeless?
  • Student: running away and not being housed by local authorities etc
  • P: right – I only made that connection at the end of the 5th paragraph. Maybe you want to point it out a little sooner, therefore tying the first 5 paragraphs into one central idea
  • Student: the lecturer said something about making it link or something
  • Student: oh ok
  • Student: you mean summing up the first 5 paras into one para at the end?
  • P: exactly – this is what he or she is talking about. Although it shows you have done a lot of research on the subject and seem to know it well, the first 4 paragraphs don’t really lead anywhere, and I believe explaining that THAT is the point you are making will make them all make sense
  • Student: great, would you suggest a paragraph summarising these points without a reference sort a thing?
  • P: like, as a reader, when I read the last sentence of the 5th paragraph, I realised what point you had been trying to make with your first 4 paragraphs! Do you know what I mean? I think it will be beneficial to mention this link in one of the first couple of body paragraphs (not the intro).
  • P: I don’t think you need a whole paragraph
P: so if you do these two things to your paper it will improve the structure and flow of your writing greatly
  • P: you don’t actually need to do too much!
  • Student: great, I’m getting sick of this – can’t wait for the summer!
  • P: lol I know what you mean I am a student too!
  • Student: like a post grad?
  • P>so basically what we have done today is split your paper into the two main issues you have mentioned in the title which is exactly what you want to do.
  • Student: yep
  • P: well, I juts graduated in jan. so postgrad starts in sept
  • Student: cool congrats
  • Student: I’ll do this next year – and recommend you highly
  • Student: great, so get yourself a cuppa b4 nxt dude! have a great summer thanks so much
pantelis and pauroma
Pantelis and Pauroma
  • Good rapport at start – talk about postgrad,Florida etc
  • P:what is it exactly that you want to work on today?
  • Pauroma: I’ve been looking at a past exam essay on critical vs traditional social Psych
  • Pauroma: like, how to structure it,what to say, etc?,the structure and if possible the areas to cover – I’m quite lost to be honest!
  • P: perfect we are thinking alike
  • Pauroma: 
P: remember I am a writing tutor and not a psych tutor – my knowledge of this stuff is pretty rusty (basically I don’t remember it!). But let’s start with how much you know..
  • Pauroma: I went through the lecture slides-I’m even lost as I missed this lecture!

> internet outage in Florida…

Pantelis: “I love tutorials like these because you write really well, and it’s just minor housekeeping issues we have to fix!”
lower order concerns predominate campfire maria and jane
Lower-order concernspredominate Campfire:Maria and Jane
  • J: I am a bit early just wanted to check that I was doing the right thing
  • M: Hi Jane
  • J: Hello this is my first experience of a chat roomI uploaded a file over the weekend for you to look at have you had a chance to yet
  • M: Hi!
  • J: I feel that I put my all into my previous assignments but struggled with putting it all together. I was told in my last one to one that I need to work on structure
  • M: oooh ok that's what I wanted to know. ok, structure is a good starting point
  • > focus on language…
  • NB strss on HOCs in Spring training
lower order concerns
Lower-order concerns
  • Focus on reflective part of text – but more on sentence level than on content
  • S: you haven’t really given any form of introduction
  • O: yeah, I was thinking of doing it last…
  • S: another thing – you’ve out the information in list form – whereas you need to get it to flow as sentences
  • O: ok

S: there are still some writing issues left – come in and see a mentor face to face – sorry we weren’t able to go through more of your work

Time pressures?

not quite freewriting
Not quite freewriting…
  • L: excellent, so that’s where I always start. Have you heard of a technique called freewriting?
  • M: like you can express free minded…
  • L: yes exactly – just dump everything that’s in your brain on to the paper
  • M: you just have the ideas, and then you start writing without your constraints, thoughts that might make mistakes
  • L: completely!
  • M: ok that should be the first step
  • L: yes – before I even begin to think about similarities and differences, I just freewrite about my understanding of the basics
  • L: so next…
  • L: come the similarities, again as a freewrite, and then the differences
  • M: ok
  • L: because I am the kind of person who thinks through writing….
L: once you have done some freewriting you could begin by outlining the mofels…and the begin my discussing the most important similarities and differences-working down in order of importance, does that sound appropriate?
  • M: yes
  • L: excellent – would you be able to roughly explain two major differences to me now>
  • M: I will call the model J from Jorsekog and the model B from Bengt Muthen…
  • M: the model B is structured on 3 stage procedure: first 2 used to compute the statistics for model model fitting including the development of GLS weight matrix for the asymptotic covariance matrix
  • L: mmhmm
  • M: I will do a freewriitng now – which I know contains mistakes of expression
  • L:great –don’t worry about it
  • M: I should have used stages only not “stage procedure”anyway
  • L: well, you can make it more elegant when you edit
  • Etc…

So do we need space for writing (as distinct from talking about writing)

not quite reading out loud
Not quite reading out loud!

At end of a tutorial:

  • The best thing you can do is read this out loud – then you would hear to add the “s”

n.b. in a session the student could do this. So we need voice…

yergeau et al
Yergeau et al

“Our technological decisions, however, worked for our particular center in particular ways at particular times. Viewing AVT technologies as mere tools fails to capture the breadth and potential of AVT integration for learning and literacy. Rather than embrace or endorse one singular product, we encourage you to engage the processes of digital design as you mix and match various applications of technology and the semiotic practices they make available, writing and rewriting the possibilities of the writing center”

fulfilling the potential of a v t
Fulfilling the potentialof A-V-T
  • Audio: phone/skype – talk about writing
  • Visual: document visible and can be “marked up”
  • Textual: chat function can be used for “writing” and kept separate from talk about writing
henry jenkins from digital revolution to convergence culture
Henry Jenkins: from Digital Revolution to Convergence Culture
  • “In the 1990s, rhetoric about a coming digital revolution contained an implicit assumption that new media was going to push aside old media, that the Internet was going to displace broadcasting, and that all of this would enable consumers to more easily access media content that was personally meaningful to them… If the digital revolution paradigm presumed that new media would displace old media, the emerging convergence paradigm assumes that old and new media will interact in ever more complex ways. The digital revolution paradigm claimed that new media was going to change everything. After the dot-com crash, the tendency was to imagine that new media had changed nothing. As with so many things about the current media environment, the truth lay somewhere in between.”
  • Convergence Culture p.5-6
“1. Convergence is coming and you had better be ready.

2. Convergence is harder than it sounds.

3. Everyone will survive if everyone works together. (Unfortunately, that was the one thing nobody knew how to do.)”

  • Jenkins p.10
or rethinking f2f
Or rethinking f2f??

“Designing online writing centers is hard work. OWCs often start out with the burden of trying to work like a f2f writing center--but then figure out that a f2f writing center is not the right conceptual model for an online writing center.”

Lee-Ann Kastman Breuch