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Guidelines and Opportunities

D-WRD’s collective contribution to the Handbook for First-Year Writing Faculty, 2011.

Guidelines and Opportunities for Teaching with Technology in the First Year Writing Program 

Writing and technology are historically linked and our reflective approach to integrating communication-and-design technologies in the FYW Program depends on research, scholarship, and the same rigorous intellectual practice that already informs our teaching.

Not “Just a Tool” 

For example, we know that technologies, whether mundane, like a pencil, or more complex, such as a course-management system, are not unbiased, value-free systems, but assume certain kinds of uses and usually have deeply embedded cultural expectations. They can limit or broaden the decisions and choices of both students and teachers. They invite new possibilities for composing, editing, and sharing; they also ask for different kinds of expertise and labor.

Teaching with technology is not new to our field: the first research on computer-mediated pedagogy was published in composition studies in the early 1980’s and the first electronic portfolios were developed in the early 1990’s, also in writing programs. We draw on a rich tradition of putting pedagogy before technology, letting the former dictate the latter, and foregrounding the literacy aspirations of students and the expertise of teachers. For these reasons, the FYW Program at DePaul is nicely situated to be a leader in efforts and initiatives when it comes to teaching with technology.

Program Philosophy  To prepare students, faculty, and support staff for the challenges of reading and writing in the university and beyond, we subscribe to the Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC) Position Statement on Teaching, Learning, and Assessing Writing in Digital Environments, in which we:

1. Assess students’ readiness to succeed in learning to write in digital environments. Programs should assess students’ access to hardware, software and access tools used in the course, as well as students’ previous experience with those tools. In order to enhance learning, programs may also assess students’ attitudes about learning in online environments; and

2. Facilitate the development of electronic portfolios where such programs are in place or are under consideration. As important, writing programs will work to help develop the infrastructure and the pedagogy to assist students in moving their portfolios from one course to another, one program to another, one institution to another, as well as from educational institutions to the workplace, working to keep learning at the center of the enterprise and to assure that students learn to use the technology, not just consume it.

Program Policies  

  • Instructors and students are encouraged to utilize digital technologies in their writing classes.
  • Online or hybrid courses developed by FYW instructors will be based on the First-Year Writing Learning Outcomes. Online or hybrid courses developed by FYW instructors are evaluated and approved by the Director of First-Year Writing and/or the First-Year Writing Committee and Department Chair in Writing, Rhetoric, and Discourse


  • Teaching with technology in the FYW Program is supported first and foremost with a model of collective expertise with colleagues:
  • Our department’s Digital WRD Working Group meets regularly to discuss teaching strategies and to share materials. Feel free to join in. Everyone is welcome.
  • DePaul’s Teaching Commons offers regular training and workshops
  • For students, DePaul’s Media Production & Technology offers regular training and workshops
  • For instructors, Faculty Instructional Technology Services (FITS) offers regular training and workshops If you are interested in developing teaching and learning technologies in a digital environment, please contact Michael Moore, WRD Coordinator of Pedagogy & Technology.