The Full-Fledged OWL

These burgeoning "critters" represent the latest developments in online writing centers, merging onsite services, copious information about writing available via the WWW, and e-mail tutoring services. Currently, their number is small, but as the technology develops and spreads, so, too, will this species. May they live long and prosper!

The Bowling Green State University Writing Lab
The homepage of BGSU's Writing Lab is a brightly colored, well-designed invitation to use their services. According to their mission statement, the Writing Lab "is dedicated to helping writers take advantage of all the opportunities for learning inherent in the writing process." Moreover, their home page is short and to the point, providing three main links: "Writing Help on the InterNet," "Writime, the BGSU On-Line Writing Lab," and information about "The BGSU Writing Lab" on campus.

"Writing Help on the InterNet," provides links to a gopher-based, general writing reference that contains some 28 "grammar tips" and basic rhetorical matters. Links to other OWLs and general Internet resources are also available.

Their online writing service, "Writime" accepts question input only, although questions may range from ways to get started on a paper, writing effective introductions and conclusions to questions of grammar and documentation. Answers to questions are provided via e-mail within 24 hours.

The Dakota State University Online Writing Lab
The Dakota State University's OWL is one of those truly rare examples of the species. Their OWL is completely and only online with services provided by via e-mail. On-campus users are requested to use Pegagus Mail, and off-campus users will be provided with feedback on anything that comes through in a readable form. Links are provided to Purdue's OWL for mechanical issues and grammar, to the Online Writery, and to the University of Michigan's OWL. Further links to other online handbooks and handouts are also provided. One of the best features of this OWL is their link to a four-page detailed guide on how to use the DSU OWL. Not only does the link provide information on how to best submit writing requests to the OWL, it also provides detailed instructions on how to use e-mail to insert your writing into the original message or to attach it as a DOS file. Although the links provided on the home page are not nearly as comprehensive as those that appear on other OWLs, the online service itself is far more extensive.

Services are provided to both faculty and students, both on and off campus. Hours of availability are quite extensive as well: 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., Monday through Thursday, with additional shorter hours on Friday through Sunday. According to their 1994 annual report, 26% of their faculty are involved in this project, and there were 225 OWL inquiries during the year.

Missouri University's Online Writery
The University of Missouri's Writing Center is one of the most impressive of the species. While it requires some degree of perseverance and skill to seek out and find from Missouri University's Home Page, the result is well worth the effort. The Writing Center itself is part of the campus's learning center, which provides tutorial help in study skills, math, and writing. But the Online Writery is a truly a gem of its kind, providing services via Email and MOO for everyone who chooses to visit and via a local newsgroup and face-to-face for those on campus.

In addition, the Online Writery provides links to numerous web sites for both students and teachers alike. Links to current scholarship on the Internet are provided, as well as links to writing resources, teaching resources, WWW search tools, and more. Best of all, the Online Writery provides a link to it's "Gallery," a place for students to publish their work. Well-designed with a wonderful tone, the Online Writery is definitely worth visiting.

Roane State Community College OWL
An impressive OWL of its species, Roane State's site provides extensive online handouts for general composition, MLA and APA guidelines, Nursing Home Health and Transition papers, articles, and links to Purdue's OWL and several others listed here. Roane State is currently working in conjunction with the University of Arkansas on a Cyberspace Writing Center Consultation Project. This project links freshman composition and literature students with graduate students in Rhetoric at the University of Arkansas, Little Rock via e-mail. The students then link together at a "WritingWorks" MOO to discuss the paper in synchronous time.

The University of Michigan On-line Writing Lab
As with everything associated with the University of Michigan's Information Gateway,  its OWL, too is quite impressive. While fairly difficult to locate from the University's home page, if you know its local haunts (Admissions and Student Services), the OWL is not far away. This OWL boasts full-fledged on-line writing support, with paper submission via either e-mail or the WWW form (limited to about 8 pages of text) at the site.

The other services this OWL offers are more limited than some of the others, however. There are some online writing support aids given--Webster's Dictionary, Roget's Thesaurus,  and a link to Purdue's online grammar handouts. A nice addition to this OWL is a link to the Internet Public Library. Offsite links to the Dakota State OWL, Virginia Tech OWL, and the University of Missouri's Online Writery  are also provided.

University of Texas at Austin
The Writing Center staff at the University of Texas have created an impressive array of OWL services for their students. Fairly easy to locate off the University's home page, the writing center provides telephone access for short grammar questions, and handouts on a strange assortment of topics, ranging from apostrophes to reading literature. Links are also provided to Purdue University's impressive handout library. A nice addition to this OWL are the links to sundry research resources that include TENET (the Texas Education Network), library catalogs, sunSITE for software downloads, and the "Queer Resources Directory." This OWL also boasts a MUD, primarily for U.T. undergraduates on Sundays from 8-10 p.m. CST, and a creative writing "jam session," open to all on Fridays from 3-4 CST.

This OWL also provides a link to the University's Computer Writing and Research Labs (CWRL), a truly impressive array of resources for both students and faculty. This site is also home to the CWRL  E-journal, a scholarly journal that publishes articles about computer-aided pedagogy in Rhetoric, Composition, and Literature. The CWRL site is an excellent place to point students looking for a research topic, and it even has student and guest personal home pages.