This page offers quick tips for WIC faculty who are teaching courses remotely that they usually teach in person. We are always happy to collaborate on WIC writing assignments, and you can contact the WIC director, Sarah Tinker Perrault, at [email protected].


    Formative (informal), low-stakes writing and writing-to-learn

    Peer Review



But first, a word of advice:

Keep it simple. Rebecca Barnett-Fox, Assistant Professor of Sociology at Arkansas State University, reminds us, “Your students know less about technology than you think. Many of them know less than you. Yes, even if they are digital natives and younger than you.” Read her tips here. There is also a list of ten pieces of advice from The Chronicle of Higher Education, and here are OSU’s Remote Teaching Recommendations.

Formative/Low-Stakes Writing & Writing-to-Learn

Here is a quick list of ideas for using formative or low-stakes writing online from the WIC team:

  • Reflection Journals 

    • Can be conducted as Google Docs. Students grant you access to allow for regular check-in and log entries reflecting on readings, classwork, etc.

  • Microthemes 

    • Isolated writing assignments that ask students to take a position, list pros/cons, defend a pre-assigned claim, or draw a claim from a data set.

    • These can be assigned as stand-alone Canvas assignments and graded by completion rapidly on SpeedGrader.

  • Discussion board posts

    • Can be used for reading reflections/responses.

    • Questions and Quotes” based on readings: students craft a post containing a selected quote from assigned reading, why they chose this quote, and a discussion question for the class. An optional follow-up activity would involve asking students to respond to one another’s questions.

    • Replicate “Write and Pass” activity: the top of a thread asks students to generate examples/ideas on a certain topic. Each student posts a novel idea - no repeats.

    • Collaborative bibliography: Thread provides a guiding topic. Each student is asked to find a relevant source (for example, from a disciplinary journal) and summarize it in 3-4 sentences.

    • Note: Canvas discussion boards can also be assigned to small groups of students. You can keep the groups the same all quarter, or change them for each assignment.

  • Collaborative annotation on readings

    • Allows students to see comments from everybody and interact to build off of thoughts/answer questions about specific moments in the text.

    • Potential tools: Google Drive PDFs; Google Docs; Perusall.

Need more ideas? Here are some from the WAC Clearinghouse at Colorado State.

Peer Review

Canvas has peer review methods that work with rubrics you may upload for writing assignments. Please make sure your students know how to use the “view feedback” for in-line comments.

Eli Review is an online peer-review tool developed by writing teachers and used by WR121 at OSU.

Peerceptiv is another peer-review software that is already included in Ecampus courses. Our Fall 2019 lunch featured one instructor, Meta Landys, explaining her approach to Peerceptiv. You can watch her talk here.

If you want to keep it simple, you can use Google Docs! Students can share drafts on Google Docs through their ONID and comment on each other’s work or use the “suggest” function.

Outside Sources & Research

OSU Library and Press’s Teaching and Engagement Department has developed Library How-To Modules to help students find, evaluate, and access books, and help with citation and information literacy. These modules can be integrated in your existing Canvas course, and personalization is encouraged. (Questions on these can be directed to Zach Wellhouse.) 

Consider adding links to respected disciplinary journals’ websites, helpful databases, or search terms on your canvas page to assist students looking for sources in your field.

What about evaluating online sources?

If you want to help your students learn to evaluate or fact-check online sources--especially online news--we’d like to recommend Mike Caulfield’s work. Here is a newsletter article with some links, including a summary of the SIFT method, an online curriculum for fact-checking, and an open-access textbook.

Feature of WIC Courses: Revision

Some instructors like to assign revision plans that prompt students to outline their next steps on a paper. Here is one example adapted from WR121 at Oregon State.