Teaching Writing Online


Welcome to our guide to teaching online writing courses through the Department of Rhetoric at the University of Mississippi. We—a group of writing instructors who have taught WRIT 101, 102, and 250 online—have collaborated to bring you all of the best practices we could think of for teaching writing online here at UM. We hope to update this guide on a semester-by-semester basis in order to keep up with curriculum developments in our WRIT courses, as well as the constantly changing terrain of online resources we have gathered for our students.

This guide is designed to help teachers acclimate to the unique challenges of teaching rhetoric and composition online. Designed by instructors currently teaching writing online for the Department for Writing and Rhetoric, this guide includes brief course tours, course policy advice (i.e. how to keep office hours online, how to conference with students, how to construct a welcome video, etc.), links to videos explaining how to effectively use Blackboard, and sample assignments (including prompts, rubrics, lectures, and homework assignments). Although the guide is comprehensive, it also includes contact information to help you solicit further help or advice if necessary.

While online courses afford flexibility that the traditional classroom might not, we also understand the importance of standardizing our courses in order to ensure that students get a consistent experience throughout their time in our writing sequence. Thus, while this guide introduces plenty of optional material for you to choose from, this guide also complies with the curricula standardized by the University of Mississippi Department of Writing and Rhetoric. We have taken every effort to ensure that our guide includes standardized syllabus language, policies, and assignment sequences in accordance with DWR guidelines.

We believe that teaching writing online can offer not only all of the rigor of a face-to-face course, but also new opportunities—new ways of writing—that students in a traditional classroom would never have the opportunity to experience.

This guide is broken into three parts. The first part contains our philosophies for teaching online and an annotated bibliography of critical scholarly sources that have influenced our teaching. All of these sources are available through the UM library’s databases, but you can always contact any of the authors for a copy of a source.

The second part of our guide reviews some of the most important concepts, policies, and processes for teaching writing online. We tried to write this section with the perspective of a new online writing teacher in mind.

The third part of the guide contains contact information for people in the department and throughout the university who can answer questions you have, teaching