The Message is the Medium: Electronically Helping Writing Tutors Help Electronically
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The history of online writing centers is a history of doubt. I experienced those reservations in 2009, when, in addition to traditional face-to-face peer tutoring, I launched my own online peer tutoring program and began training undergraduates to respond to student submissions. Online writing centers were already common, but the decision the begin tutoring online was not all mine—the university administration was encouraging faculty to create online and web-assisted courses, and it expected its academic support keep up with the pace of technology, distance learning, and even fears that a future pandemic could hinder face to face learning. After consulting with tutors and instructional technology staff, I decided on asynchronous peer tutoring: students would fill out an intake form and questionnaire about their assignment and writing process, and then they would upload what they had written; tutors would then respond via email within 24 hours, even on weekends. This system allowed us to help as many students as quickly as possible, particularly non-traditional, commuting, and working students unable to meet face to face.