Online writing system?
July 26, 2009 1:50 PM   Subscribe

Online systems for writing teachers?

I am a college writing instructor, and I've been asked to preview the following system for possible adoption in my classroom:

This is new turf for me, and I'm not sure what to think.

The benefit of the system is its inclusiveness; it's a one-stop shop for students' writing needs: grammar help, online paper submission and more. It also seems to be a potential boon for instructors, since it allows them to provide feedback on student work efficiently.

That said, my concern is that it might be unwise to adopt something so monolithic. If the system breaks down, the entire course effectively grinds to a halt.

Then again, I don't want to be resistant to electronic resources. Though I do use Blackboard, it's only one aspect of the course, and I'm wary of going all electronic (unless, of course, the system is superb).

- Have you used this or a similar system?
- How does this particular system look to you?
- I'll be meeting with a rep who'll demo the system. What kinds of questions should I ask at that meeting?

Thanks in advance!
posted by cymru_j to Education (3 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Here are some things to think about/ ask the rep:

How much does this cost for students? Students can buy used text books at a lower price, but they can't do this for online access. What can My Comp Lab do for students that the "traditional way" can't? Can you as the instructor find equivalent grammar/research tutorials elsewhere online and/or on youtube? How long does access last? If they need to refer back to something as seniors, will it still be there? If My Comp Lab doesn't work with your class, will they refund students' money? What support is available for you (and students) if My Comp Lab doesn't work? (Yes, support needs to be available at 3 am the night before an assignment's due). And do you really want to see that your students were finishing their assignments at 3 am? How secure is students' work online? Can assignments completed in My Comp Lab be printed out? What are the system requirements? My Comp Lab may not work with old computers. Can you handle yet another excuse for an assignment not to be turned in? Do you prefer to read student essays on paper or from a computer screen? As an instructor, do you want to encourage your students to write their essays in a web browser, which makes facebook that much closer? What are you, the instructor, going to do when students tell you they have bought a new book online that comes with the access code, but it hasn't arrived yet? What are the biggest complaints the rep hears about my comp lab?

My Comp Lab seems like it is trying to reinvent the wheel. You can get most of My Comp Lab's functionality for a lot less money if you are willing to combine several resources. (Your students' wallets will thank you!) Diana Hacker, or your school's required composition handbook has the major grammatical concepts, formatting, and the writing process. Before classes start, email the class the ISBN of the handbook so that they can save money by ordering it online. A paper based handbook can be sold back at the end of the semester or kept for further reference. You can supplement the handbook with websites like Diana Hacker's or Purdue's Online Writing Lab. Peer and professor editing can be accomplished via paper, email, or Google Docs. Don't forget to have students use the writing center if your school offers it.
posted by oceano at 6:48 PM on July 26, 2009

Response by poster: Fabulous help! Thanks so much.
posted by cymru_j at 8:40 PM on July 26, 2009

Best answer: I beta-tested MyCompLab, and I have to say that I wasn't impressed. It's not a intuitive interface, and it really limits how you can use the materials, especially if your class is online only and relies on WebCT for the grading functions.

Making students to go too many things outside of your course site makes it harder for them to stay oriented.

We elected not to continue requiring it for class.
posted by answergrape at 12:25 PM on July 27, 2009

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