Developmental Writing and MOOCs: Reconsidering Access, Remediation, and Development in Large-Scale Online Writing Instruction

Developmental Writing and MOOCs: Reconsidering Access, Remediation, and Development in Large-Scale Online Writing Instruction

Krista L. Petrosino (Georgia Southern University, USA)
Copyright: © 2017 |Pages: 16
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-1718-4.ch010
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Abstract

Online education has created a path for universities to expand their geographical and financial bases, per se, by creating virtual classrooms in which students can be present from anywhere, at virtually any time, and do not require the cost of housing facilities, dining, and other expenses that universities (and students) incur beyond the cost of their education itself. The effects of this geographical and financial expansion are far reaching—more so than we sometimes imagine. If we apply this expanse to the multifaceted concept of access, and narrow that focus to one of the most at-risk student populations—developmental writers—we can clearly map connections and complications between location, politics, and pedagogy, all of which have a direct effect on the students and faculty who occupy these online classroom spaces. Here, access becomes most complicated, because it represents in part a geographical and political open door into an education that was previously inaccessible; however, in examining the ways in which some online educational spaces have ultimately developed, the political and financial benefits of MOOCs and other online learning spaces for universities often directly contest disciplinary pedagogies and accepted methods of student support (i.e. small class sizes, individual attention), especially in the case of developmental writers and other at-risk student populations. Ultimately, the relationship of developmental writing and MOOCs in the field's discussions of 21st century literacies, pedagogy, and student success, and in practice, serves to complicate or fully redefine our field's concept of remediation and development, and in doing so, assists us re-thinking the development of large-scale online writing instruction at institutions that do not have the need or resources for creating a writing MOOC specifically.
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Introduction

The advent of online education has produced numerous intersections between concepts once limited to the context of the “traditional” or “seated” university environment. It has, effectively, redefined our understanding of learning, interaction, voice, access, and countless other pedagogical and disciplinary attributes. Furthermore, online education has created a path for universities to expand their geographical and financial bases, per se, by creating virtual classrooms in which students can be present from anywhere, at virtually any time, and do not require the cost of housing facilities, dining, and other expenses that universities (and students) incur beyond the cost of their education itself. The effects of this geographical and financial expansion are far reaching—more so than we sometimes imagine.

If we apply this expanse to the multifaceted concept of access, and narrow that focus to one of the most at-risk student populations—developmental writers—we can clearly map connections and complications between location, politics, and pedagogy, all of which have a direct effect on the students and faculty who occupy these online classroom spaces. Here, access becomes most complicated, because it represents in part a geographical and political open door into an education that was previously inaccessible; however, in examining the ways in which some online educational spaces have ultimately developed, the political and financial benefits of MOOCs and other online learning spaces for universities often directly contest disciplinary pedagogies and accepted methods of student support (i.e. small class sizes, individual attention), especially in the case of developmental writers and other at-risk student populations. In short, MOOCs were born from a desire for access, but the context of developmental writing specifically, the presence of MOOCs either in the field’s discussions of 21st century literacies, pedagogy, and student success, or in practice, serves to complicate or fully redefine our field’s concepts of access, remediation, and development. From this perspective, large-scale online writing instruction can be successful if it enhances and interacts with students’ extant 21st century literacies, is designed from the perspective of Thomas and Brown’s (2011)A New Culture of Learning, where “people belong in order to learn”, and takes into account the various ways that our students’ 21st century literacies serve to reconstruct and to complicate access, remediation, and development in the context of writing instruction, and in doing so, assists us re-thinking the development of large-scale online writing instruction at institutions that do not have the need or resources for creating a writing MOOC specifically.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Community: See Thomas and Brown (2011) .

Large-Scale Online Writing Instruction: Writing instruction that takes place in courses that are enrolled beyond 15-20 students, but does not necessarily take place in a MOOC or MOOEE.

Voice: Encompasses the student’s physical voice that is often absent in text-focused online learning environments, and also the ways in which students and instructors modify their voices (physical and rhetorical) within the online environment.

Interaction: Encompasses student-student, student-instructor, student-technological interface, and issues of identity.

Access: Includes physical and technological access to the course materials and spaces, and the student’s ability to successfully navigate the course content from the perspective of 21st century literacies and traditional literacies.

Remediation: Takes on the context of both supplemental writing instruction to bring students up to college level outcomes, but also in the context of engaging students in 21st century literacies who have not had experience with technology.

Development: Takes on the context of developing students’ skills in composition within multiple modes, as well as developing 21st century literacies and continuing to maintain those literacies as the technology evolves.

Collective: See Thomas and Brown (2011) .

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