Editor’s note: We would like to thank Dr. Margie Clow-Bohan, Director of the Dalhousie Writing Centre at Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia (Canada), for providing this piece. To contact the author, please email Dr. Clow-Bohan. If you would like to share your writing center’s experience during COVID-19, please submit via WLN.
1. Online reviews proved beneficial for students. Questions and comments sparked students to revise effectively. We developed a manual for the team that contained notes, links to information for writing issues, and tips for reviewing, and that helped us review more quickly.
2. Teaching works online under well planned conditions (i.e., good internet connections, multiple sessions, and patience). Using programs such as Teams, Zoom, or Collaborate allow for straightforward connections. Electronic links are sent to both tutors and students through email or stored in systems such as Microsoft 365. A simple click connects tutor and student and establishes the teaching environment. In fact, leaving larger group connections live and establishing specific meeting times during the week produced a drop-in place for tutors to talk informally with each other and for students to talk with other students. Our annual Writing Week for Graduate Students was so successful online that students requested that it continue all summer (which we are doing) and that next year it should be online rather than face to face.
3. Faculty needed us. We had experience working online because of distance education students and our connection with the Centre for Teaching and Learning strengthened. We were able to consult with very worried faculty. They appreciated having somebody to talk to about writing assignments delivered online.
4. Other groups, also, became closer allies: senior academic administrators decided on an Academic Integrity Week for Instructors where we confronted the challenges of teaching online with the same level of academic ethics. Hundreds of faculty members attended daily virtual sessions. Now we are in the process of formalizing material that faculty can use to teach online.