I began using an online component in my freshmen composition courses to post handouts and send out emails. Like most instructors, I appreciated the advantage of sharing information through technology, but I felt that the classroom was where learning took place. I felt very skeptical about the many English courses that were being taught online in both the graduate to the undergraduate level. My traditional ideals for the English classroom were being threatened by a trend.
When I began to experience difficulty getting my students to participate in my freshmen composition course, I asked them to contribute to a threaded discussion about writing and assigned essays. It was there that my students began to form critical connections as individuals and as a group. Now I have also taught a class completely online and I've come to notice some definite advantages to teaching composition through text-based technology.
Many of us have orchestrated writing activities for our composition students in class only to see them forget about the writing skills they've just learned when it is time to create a more formal piece of writing. The unsituated nature of the typical writing assignment has been a topic of concern for many instructors as they watch their students write "to get the grade" and then discard any of the skills they've just practiced.