While the time that resident students spend in class discussing writing and rhetoric seems productive, sometimes the online composition student may have the upper hand in learning written communication. At the same time, resident students have a better opportunity to work with their peers to receive feedback. Although resident students have the benefit of face-to-face discussion, they miss the writing practice that online students get as they banter back and forth on discussion threads, chat rooms, and email. And at the same time, it is easy for a completely online student to forget that she really has other human beings as classmates.
An online environment is the only place that composition students are entirely dependent upon writing for communication. As a result, they get more writing practice than face-to-face students. So when face-to-face students go online after meeting their classmates in person, they begin to form a better sense of audience and purpose as they communicate with their classmates in writing. When students post their writing online, they practice making their writing clear to an audience by communicating with that audience, receiving feedback from the audience, and anticipating how the audience will respond to certain ideas. And this is important because these digital personalities will be sitting next to them in class later on.
The following sections explore some of the possibilities for learning composition online and the reasoning behind implementing online education tools into the resident composition classroom.