MOO-based activities offer the composition classroom a forum for continual reflection on the writing process and a new avenue for metacognition. There are few activities that foster immediately reflective writing while discussing writing issues, and even fewer that naturally create learning logs of the synchronous learning for further consideration, reflection, and discussion.
In MOO-based writing conferences, participants collaborate on a common text--the students' early draft--and they work over the issues of the drafts with spontaneous give-and-take of opinions and ideas, attempting to resolve what needs to be done during revision in order to strengthen the writing. Not only are online writing conferences reflective in their conversational nature, but they are also reflective upon the students' own writing process; and further, since the conversations are written (as opposed to spoken), participants can re-read all statements in order to further understand, agree, disagree, and pursue the issues at hand. (So, for example, when Riceman asks some complex questions, Amanda can say "Woah, hold up there buddy. You confused me a little. Let me read what you wrote again," and do precisely that until the questions are clear.)
The writing/re-reading/reflecting/annotating process of the MOO conference accomplishes more than simply reminding writers of the advice from and their responses to their tutors, teacher, and peers. It engages the students in their own learning texts and allows them to actually watch themselves learning. More, it compels them to research the layers of their own learning, to find where, how, and why they learn, to see how they respond to tutorial instruction and peer collaboration, and to map their very learning processes through the MOO logs. Using the conference log as a metacognitive map of the learning process is the key to employing all of the usefulness of the already reflective online writing conference.
Synchronous online conferencing provides metacognitive
activity in an optimum learning
environment for writers. Composition students participating in online
writing activities can benefit from traditional writing conferences and
from metacognitive writing, never forgetting what a tutor or instructor
said, forgetting what they said, or losing track of what it was that they
learned. And by actively engaging in the learning
texts produced from conferences, writers are able to re-enter the discussions
on their writing, discovering new richness in the conferencing process,
and mapping out what, how, when and why they learn.
MOO-based Metacognition: Incorporating Online and Offline
Reflection into the Writing Process