OWI Principle 13: OWI students should be provided support components through online/digital media as a primary resource; they should have access to onsite support components as a secondary set of resources.
Writing instruction that is conducted online requires online support systems. Such support should take the form of online writing labs (OWLs; also known as online writing centers) as well as online libraries, online accessible information technology (IT) support, and distance-based student counseling. Such reinforcing programs provide student access to the same support components that students in traditional, onsite courses receive. This issue is one of access and inclusivity (see OWI Principle 1), but it also is one of enabling students to use the digital educational environment more fully (see OWI Principle 10). When students are in a “learn-anytime” environment, they should have broad access to support services.
OWLs, for example, support the process-oriented elements of writing as well as its social nature. As do brick-and-mortar writing centers, OWLs foster one-to-one relationships between tutors and writers and provide tailored feedback and assistance to students as a complement to in-class, faculty-led instruction. Tailored, personalized feedback from peer or professional tutors can afford invaluable learning opportunities for student writers. With institutional and faculty support, students must be prepared to use OWLs as sites of interaction and dialogue and not as linear “drop-off” points to “fix” papers. OWLs can further benefit OWI students by strategically modeling asynchronous or synchronous interactions within the writing process.