How Might Technologies Support Students' Writing in My Classes?


Getting Started

Why include writing in my courses?

What is writing to learn?

What is writing to engage?

What is writing in the disciplines?

Useful Knowledge

What should I know about rhetorical situations?

Do I have to be an expert in grammar to assign writing?

What should I know about genre and design?

What should I know about second-language writing?

What teaching resources are available?

What should I know about WAC and graduate education?

Assigning Writing

What makes a good writing assignment?

How can I avoid getting lousy student writing?

What benefits might reflective writing have for my students?

Using Peer Review

Why consider collaborative writing assignments?

Do writing and peer review take up too much class time?

How can I get the most out of peer review?

Responding to Writing

How can I handle responding to student writing?

How can writing centers support writing in my courses?

What writing resources are available for my students?

Using Technology

How can computer technologies support writing in my classes?

Designing and Assessing WAC Programs

What is a WAC program?

What designs are typical for WAC programs?

How can WAC programs be assessed?

More on WAC

Where can I learn more about WAC?

Even as early as the mid-1990s, composition and WAC scholars noted that computer tools were already widely used to support writing across disciplines (Reiss, 1996; Reiss, Selfe & Young, 1998) in the form of electronic journals, asynchronous discussion forums, multimedia design supports, and other applications. Since then, especially with the advent of Web 2.0 applications, computer technologies have become even more commonplace at the same time that they show the creativity of WAC teachers. Innovative uses of wikis (Chiang, et al., 2012; Davies et al., 2011; Gehringer et al., 2008; Khandaker & Soh, 2010; Pollard, 2008), blogs (Andergassen et al., 2009; Philip & Nicholls, 2009), website design (Crisp et al., 2007), podcasting (Bowie, 2012; Jones, 2010) and other computer applications help teachers across the curriculum encourage students to write and respond to each others' writing.

I collect below selected titles, primarily published since 2007, that describe specific computer applications or their assessment in WAC contexts. The table groups citations by technology and discipline. Complete bibliographic citations follow the table.

A word of caution: Moore's Law indirectly affects computer applications to teaching contexts and, by extension, publications about and assessments of new uses of computer technologies in WAC settings. Please consult local experts and update my citations with searches in your disciplinary areas to keep pace with rapidly changing technologies and their WAC extensions.

Computer application

Title (disciplinary area and focus)


Andergasses et al., 2009 (general)

Cooper, 2012 (mathematics)

Hourigan & Murray, 2010 (interdisciplinary)

Philip & Nicholls, 2009 (drama, group writing)

Cloud computing

Blue & Tirotta, 2011 (education)

Calvo et al., 2011 (general, collaborative writing)

E journal

Theoret & Luna, 2009 (statistics)

Multimodal design

Bridwell-Bowles, et al., 2009 (general)

Planken & Kreps, 2006 (business)

Snow, 1991 (geology; digital modeling)

Williams, 2008 (business, visual rhetoric of sales letters)

Online course management shell

Alvarez, et al., 2012 (general, collaborative writing)

Yang et al., 2010 (general, virtual learning community)

Online discussion forum

Cheng et al., 2011 (psychology)

Cooper, 2012 (mathematics)

Theoret & Luna, 2009 (statistics)

Online dispute resolution

Ponte, 2008 (legal studies)

Online peer review

Calibrated Peer Review

Cathey, 2007 (social psychology, collaborative learning)

Cho & Schunn, 2007 (general, on SWoRD)

Goldin et al., 2012 (general)

Gunersel et al., 2008 (biology, CPR)

Hartberg et al., 2008 (biochemistry, CPR)

Reynolds & Moscovitz, 2008 (science, CPR)

Russell et al., 2004 (general, CPR)

Trautmann, 2009 (science)

Volz & Satervak, 2009 (bioengineering)

Online research project

Ruswick, 2011 (history)


Bowie, 2012 (general)

Jones, 2010 (general)

Video clips/editing

Kersting, 2008 (mathematics; teacher education)


Crisp et al., 2007 (anatomy and physiology)

Motavalli et al., 2007 (natural resources, extension publications)

Patterson, 1997 (geosciences, virtual museum project)

Planken & Kreps, 2006 (business)


Allwardt, 2011 (social work)

Chiang et al., 2012 (biology)

Davies et al., 2011 (general)

Dishaw et al., 2011 (general, collaborative writing)

Fernheimer et al., 2009 (interdisciplinary, collaborative writing)

Gehringer et al., 2008 (computer science, collaborative learning)

Khandaker & Soh, 2010 (history, collaborative writing)

Lin & Kelsey, 2009 (general, collaborative learning)

Pollard, 2008 (history)

Wheeler & Wheeler, 2009 (teacher training)


Franz, 2012 (organic chemistry)

General resources/background

Barton & Klint, 2011

Lunsford, 2009

Reiss, 1996

Reiss et al., 1998

Van Ittersum, 2011


Allwardt, D.E. (2011). Writing with wikis: A cautionary tale of technology in the classroom. Journal of Social Work Education, 47(3), 597-605.

Alvarez, I., Espasa, A., & Guasch, T. (2012). The value of feedback in improving collaborative writing assignments in an online learning environment. Studies in Higher Education, 37(4), 387-400.

Andergassen, M., Behringer, R., Finlay, J., Gorra, A., & Moore, D. (2009). Weblogs in higher education: Why do students (not) blog? Electronic Journal of e-Learning, 7(3), 203-214.

Barton, M., & Klint, K. (2011). "A student's guide to collaborative writing technologies." In C. Lowe and P. Zemliansky (Eds.), Writing Spaces: Readings on writing (vol. 2). Parlor Press.

Blue, E., & Tirotta, R. (2011). The benefits and drawbacks of integrating cloud computing and interactive whiteboards in teacher preparation. TechTrends: Linking Research and Practice to Improve Learning, 55(3), 31-39.

Bowie, J. (2012). Podcasting in a writing class? Considering the possibilities. Kairos: A Journal of Rhetoric, Technology, and Pedagogy, 16(2).

Bridwell-Bowles, L., Powell, K.E., & Walter, T. (2009). Not just words any more: Multimodal communication across the curriculum. Across the Disciplines, 6.

Calvo, R.A., O'Rourke, S.T., Jones, J., Yacef, K., & Reimann, P. (2011). Collaborative writing support tools on the Cloud. IEEE Transactions on Learning Technologies, 4(1), 88-97.

Cathey, C. (2007). Power of peer review: An online collaborative learning assignment in social psychology. Teaching of Psychology, 34(2), 97-99.

Cheng, C.K., Pare, D.E., Collimore, L., & Joordens, S. (2011). Assessing the effectiveness of a voluntary online discussion forum on improving students' course performance. Computers & Education, 56(1), 253-261.

Chiang, C. D.; Lewis, C. L., Wright, M. D. E., Agapova, S., Akers, B., Azad, T. D., Banerjee, K., Carrera, P., Chen, A., Chen, J., Chi, X., Chiou, J., Cooper, J., Czurylo, M., Downs, C., Ebstein, S. Y., Fahey, P. G., Goldman, J. W., Grieff, A., Hsiung, S., Hu, R., Huang, Y., Kapuria, A., Li, K., Marcu, I., Moore, S. H., Moseley, A. C., Nauman, N., Ness, K. M., Ngai, D. M., Panzer, A., Peters, P., Qin, E. Y., Sadhu, S., Sariol, A., Schellhase, A., Schoer, M. B., Steinberg, M., Surick, G., Tsai, C. A., Underwood, K., Wang, A., Wang, M. H., Wang, V. M., Westrich, D., Yockey, L. J., Zhang, L., & Herzog, E. D. (2012). Learning Chronobiology by improving Wikipedia. Journal of Biological Rhythms, 27(4), 333-336.

Cho, K., & Schunn, C. (2007). Scaffolded writing and rewriting in the disciplines: A web-based reciprocal peer-review system. Computers & Education, 48: 409-426.

Cooper, A. (2012). Today's technologies enhance writing in mathematics. The Clearing House, 85(2), 80.

Crisp, K.M., Jensen, M.M., & Moore, R.R. (2007). Pros and cons of a group webpage design project in a freshman anatomy and physiology course. Advances in Physiology Education, 31(4), 343-346.

Davies, A., Pantzopoulos, K., & Gray, K. (2011). Emphasising assessment "as" learning by assessing wiki writing assignments collaboratively and publicly online. Australasian Journal of Education Technology, 27(5), 798-812.

Dishaw, M., Eierman, M.A., & Iversen, J.H. (2011). Wiki or Word? Evaluating tools for collaborative writing and editing. Journal of Information Systems Education, 22(1), 43-54.

Fernheimer, J., Nieusma, D., Chi, L., Montoya, L., Kujala, T., & LaPadule, A. (2009). Collaborative convergences in research and pedagogy: An interdisciplinary approach to teaching writing with wikis. Computers & Composition Online.

Franz, A.K. (2012). Organic chemistry YouTube writing assignment for large lecture classes. Journal of Chemical Education, 89(4), 497-501.

Gehringer, E.F., Cassel, L., Deibel, K., & Joel, W. (2008). Wikis—collaborative learning for CS education. Proceedings of the 39th ACM Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education; 379-380.

Goldin, I.M., Ashley, K.D., Schunn, C.D. (2012). Redesigning educational peer review interactions using computer tools: An introduction. Journal of Writing Research, 4(2), 111-119.

Gunersel, A.B., Simpson, N.J., Aufderheide, K.J., Wang, L. (2008). Effectiveness of Calibrated Peer Review™ for improving writing and critical thinking skills in biology undergraduate students. Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 8(2), 25-37.

Hartberg, Y., Gunersel, A.B., Simpson, N.J., Balester, V. (2008). Development of student writing in biochemistry using Calibrated Peer Review™. Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 8(1), 29-44.

Hourigan, T., & Murray, L. (2010). Investigating the emerging generic features of the blog writing task across three discrete learner groups at a higher education institution. Educational Media International, 47(2), 83-101.

Jones, L.A. (2010). Podcasting and performativity: Multimodal invention in an advanced writing class. Composition Studies, 38(2), 75-91.

Kersting, N. (2008). Using video clips of mathematics classroom instruction as item prompts to measure teachers' knowledge of teaching mathematics. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 68(5), 845-861.

Khandaker, N., & Soh, L.K. (2010). ClassroomWiki: A collaborative wiki for instructional use with multiagent group formation. IEEE Transactions on Learning Technologies, 3(3), 190-202.

Lin, H., & Kelsey, K.D. (2009). Building a networked environment in wikis: The evolving phases of collaborative learning in a wikibook project. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 40(2), 145-169.

Lunsford, K.J. (2009). Writing technologies and writing across the curriculum: Current lessons and future trends. Across the Disciplines, 6.

Motavalli, P.P., Patton, M.D., & Miles, R.J. (2007). Use of web-based student extension publications to improve undergraduate student writing skills. Journal of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Education, 36: 95-102.

Patterson, R.T. (1997). Assignment of World Wide Web virtual museum projects in undergraduate geoscience courses. Computers & Geosciences, 23(5), 581-585.

Philip, R., & Nicholls, J. (2009). Group blogs: Documenting collaborative drama processes. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 25(5), 683-699.

Planken, B., & Kreps, A.J. (2006). Raising students' awareness of the implications of multimodality for content design and usability: The web site project. Business Communication Quarterly, 69(4), 421-425.

Pollard, E.A. (2008). Raising the stakes: Writing about witchcraft on Wikipedia. History Teacher, 42(1), 9-24.

Ponte, L.M. (2006). The case of the unhappy sports fan: Embracing student-centered learning and promoting upper-level cognitive skills through an online dispute resolution simulation. Journal of Legal Studies Education, 23(2), 169-194.

Reiss, D. (1996). A comment on the future of WAC (Writing-across-the-curriculum). College English, 58(6), 722-723.

Reiss, D., Selfe, D., & Young, A. (Eds.) (1998). Electronic Communication Across the Curriculum. Urbana, IL: NCTE.

Reynolds, J., & Moscovitz, C. (2008). Calibrated Peer Review assignments in science courses: Are they designed to promote critical thinking and writing skills? Journal of College Science Teaching, 38(2), 60-66.

Russell, A. A., Cunningham, S., & George, Y. S. (2004). Calibrated Peer Review: A writing and critical thinking instructional tool. In Invention and Impact: Building Excellence in Undergraduate Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Education. American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Ruswick, B.J. (2011). Teaching historical skills through JSTOR: An online research project for survey courses. History Teacher, 44(2), 285-296.

Snow, R.S. (1991). Early writing in the research mode via digital modeling of rivers. Journal of Geological Education, 39: 227-229.

Theoret, J.M., & Luna, A. (2009). Thinking statistically in writing: Journals and discussion boards in an introductory statistics course. International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 21(1), 57-65.

Trautmann, N.M. (2009). Interactive learning through web-mediated peer review of student science reports. Educational Technology Research and Development, 57(5), 685-704.

Van Ittersum, D. (2011). Augmenting Literacy: The Role of Expertise in Digital Writing. Composition Studies, 39(2), 61-77.

Volz, T., & Saterbak, A. (2009). Students' strengths and weaknesses in evaluating technical arguments as revealed through implementing Calibrated Peer Review™ in a bioengineering laboratory. Across the Disciplines, 6.

Wheeler, S., & Wheeler, D. (2009). Using wikis to promote quality learning in teacher training. Learning, Media and Technology, 34(1), 1-10.

Williams, L.S. (2008). Strengthening the ethics and visual rhetoric of sales letters. Business Communication Quarterly, 71(1)44-52.

Yang, Y., Yeh, H., & Wong, W. (2010). The influence of social interaction on meaning construction in a virtual community. British Journal of Educational Technology, 41(2), 287-306.