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Online Writing Labs Are Called Citing for a Reason

Most of us are very well aware of how much time and effort is put into creating an academic essay. However, the process of creating a piece of academic writing is usually regarded as something that should be done solely in the classroom. While this may have been the case in the past, today it is highly unlikely that a student will ever encounter an essay question directly in their A-level exams. That is because modern day assessment is student-focused and designed to assess their practical and theoretical knowledge rather than simply their writing skills.

In 2018, a completely new approach to learning and assessment is being adopted by universities and colleges. This approach is based on the idea that effective learning takes place when students are engaged with relevant content, questions, and activities – and not simply when they are sitting in a classroom listening to a teacher lecture.

As a result, online writing labs (OWLs) are becoming a significant feature of a university or college curriculum. An OWL is a dedicated, secure online space which provides educational and training institutions with a platform to deliver course content to students via digital means.

Often seen as the “next big thing” in the field of distance learning, OWLs allow teachers to give their students a helping hand by providing them with an environment in which to practice the written and oral communication skills they are being trained to develop.

Many educators see OWLs as a way to improve the quality of their teaching and engage more students. There is also a perception that having an OWL can boost a university or college’s international profile.

The Essential Elements of an Effective OWL

To qualify as a viable option for use within the classroom, an OWL must meet the following criteria:

  • It must be secure. This ensures that no unauthorised individuals can access the content. Furthermore, all communication between educators and students takes place within the environment of the platform, ensuring that student identities remain private and the content is not compromised.
  • The platform must ensure that all content is consistently delivered. This reduces the chance of a student receiving a different version of the same assignment from one class to the next. Moreover, having control over the material means that teachers know exactly what will be delivered each time they log in.
  • It must be accessible. This ensures that everyone, including those with accessibility issues, can benefit from the content. It also means that students can access the content when and where they want, increasing their engagement with the material.
  • The platform must have high quality audio and visual elements. This ensures that students can follow the content as their teachers present it and that each unit is presented in the most effective manner for maximum engagement.
  • The platform must integrate with the institution’s existing systems and tools. This allows for maximum efficiency in the use of resources and makes the instructional process as seamless as possible.
  • Finally, the platform must be measurable. This ensures that educators can accurately gauge the effectiveness of the content delivered and the impact it has on students’ learning. The ability to measure student activity within the environment is also beneficial as it provides teachers with an idea of whether or not the content has been absorbed by the students.

The Rise In Popularity

Interest in and use of online writing labs is on the rise. According to Future Inc, a market research company specialising in education, the worldwide market size for online writing labs and other blended learning platforms will grow from $12.9 billion in 2018 to $23.4 billion by 2023.

Blended learning combines the best of both worlds – face-to-face interaction combined with flexibility and access to content when and where a student wants. This format allows for a greater degree of engagement and increases the likelihood of effective learning.

Online writing labs offer many benefits to educators and students alike. For example, they can be used to deliver course content in a way that is relevant and engaging for the target audience. Furthermore, the ability to access content from anywhere means that students can continue learning even when they are not in a classroom. This can be particularly beneficial for those who have mobility issues or are constantly on the move. Lastly, being able to gauge student progress and feedback through various assessment methods (such as quizzes and exams) is also achievable through an online writing lab.

While the use of online writing labs within universities and colleges is still at an early stage, many institutions are seeing their value and are already incorporating them into their curriculum.