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Digital WRD: Online Learning and Teaching in WRD

Our online and hybrid courses are taught by the same faculty who teach our high-quality and rigorous face-to-face courses. Many of our faculty have experience in international and intercultural contexts, in community-based writing, are published writers, are scholars in writing studies, and are committed to the academic, professional, and lifelong success of DePaul studentsboth face to face and online.

Meet a few of our online writing faculty here:

Victoria Hohenzy
WRD104: Composition & Rhetoric II

So much about writing, the real act of translating ideas into text, is about typing in an empty room. However, online classes, even those focused on writing, are not about that at all. The opposite, in fact. A successful online writing course is about reframing the idea of what a classroom is entirely and using technology in new ways to help students learn, collaborate, and engage with texts and concepts in interesting ways. From my perspective, the best things about online courses are the freedoms they permit in allowing students to work with their classmates in truly collaborative ways and through meaningful conversations. The dialogue becomes extended in time and enriched through sharing of resources. Students, especially those who feel limited by the constraints of more traditional class time, thrive in this environment. As an instructor, these moments of meaning and understanding are what we are always seeking to create.

Howard Clauser
WRD204: Technical Writing

In the span of my career in teaching Business and Technical Writing in corporations and at the university level, I’ve found that the types of communication haven’t changed so much. Writers typically have had to document their work, describe procedures and devices, report findings, make recommendations to bosses and customers, etc. What has changed is how the writing gets done. Today, many documents are produced as a team effort, thus making writing projects a collaborative endeavor. Sometimes you work with writers with you may never meet face to face or who may even live on a different continent.

But because teamwork is not something most people intuitively know how to do, many writing projects are not as successful as they could be, and some may be downright frustrating. So I now integrate the teaching of collaborative teamwork into my online course since students must work with people they may never see. It’s satisfying when students acknowledge that their success on the group project has been the result of applying the proven techniques of teaming and collaboration. And some even say they wish they had used similar techniques with other group work as well.

Natalie Tomlin
WRD202: Business Writing

I always find my work with students in online courses inspiring—many students attracted to online courses are juggling many commitments and because of the format, all of their stellar efforts are transparent and documented, including most notably, peer feedback. Students often report that giving and receiving feedback in small groups was the most productive and positive aspect of the course, and I find online classes produce a special form of highly sophisticated collaboration, where students communicate constructive feedback really effectively and warmly encourage people that they have never formally met. And because such courses demand I capture the essence of my pedagogy and use measured language, I believe that some of my best teaching and writing has taken place there.
Kristin Rozzell 
WRD 104: Composition and Rhetoric II
Just as night classes were established to help a student population held captive by economic circumstances, today’s online classes give non-traditional students a chance to further their education without forgoing a steady income or making personal sacrifices. For these students and the more traditional ones, an online experience is one that they drive; it is not one that they just show up to twice a week. It is an experience in which students listen by reading, and speak by writing. Students learn about writing, rhetoric and discourse in the assignments, but also in their interactions with the course itself. Excitingly, the technology available, including screencasts and live chats, which do let students listen and talk, can be used strategically to give students a taste of the way rhetoric works with other senses. Overall, the best thing about developing, teaching or taking an online course is that the subject matter immediately comes to the forefront and stays there. The white noise of the face-to-face class is silenced.
Christine M. Skolnik
WRD204: Technical Writing

I was a relatively early adopter of online teaching technology in WRD. As I was pursuing a second MA, in Urban Sustainability, I became more and more aware of the benefits of telecommuting, and I thought that it should be an option for both students and faculty.  I also like the idea of delivering rich audio and visual materials to students.  Faculty in the humanities tend not to embrace visual communication, and designing online courses has made me far more literate and appreciative in this sense.  Another real benefit is orienting students to the online environment.  Teleconferencing, for example, is not the future–it is the present-day reality of work in various contexts.  Having live online discussions and giving online presentations in a “safe” learning environment is a great way to introduce students to this technology, which has become a form of literacy.  The rich audiovisual features of such presentation moreover make create an exciting and truly engaging learning and teaching experience.