Possible Setbacks (continued)
While more research will provide definite answers about the way students feel about communicating online, some studies already indicate that the same anxiety that inhibits some students from speaking in a face-to-face class might also inhibit students who feel that their writing is inferior (Carabajal, LaPointe, Gunawardena 222). Students might also find the technology confusing, too time-consuming, and non-central to their learning goals.
In my experience, many of my students suffer from writing anxiety and an online writing environment can be incredibly daunting to them when they are asked to establish groups. When students are sensitive about their own writing and responding to the writing of their classmates, I ask them to discuss a class reading before conducting a peer review discussion online. Starting with a discussion of a remote person's writing allows students to get their bearings, understand the opinions of their classmates, and develop methods for responding to someone else's writing before that someone else becomes one of their classmates.
Many possible setbacks of an online environment can be countered with interaction between the instructor and student that might result in a resolution of issues; however, there is a perception of computer-based learning as inferior to classroom interaction that must be addressed and changed in the general public before students can really appreciate the advantages of learning a skill like composition through the medium that lends itself most readily to student writers.