Teaching in a virtual environment involves radical changes in pedagogical strategies and creates new responsibilities, roles, and demands on instructors who choose (or are forced into) teaching in this environment. In addition, many of the practical skills instructors have developed while teaching in a traditional classroom setting, including lecturing style, classroom management techniques, and grading strategies must be revised or discarded altogether. Many instructors, especially those who are among the first on their campuses to enter into this realm, find themselves in a very lonely position as they attempt to "push the envelope" and incorporate emerging technologies such as web sites, listservs, and MOO’s into their curriculum, and it is often a struggle to convince other faculty, administrators, and technical personnel that the expenditure of human and financial resources is worth the result. Often, these "cyber-pioneers" invest a great deal of their personal time and resources reshaping their pedagogical strategies and acquiring hardware, software, and the skills to use them effectively before others begin to come on board or at least acknowledge the validity of their efforts. Besides the time spent alone in front of the computer or on the road attending seminars, conferences, and training sessions, cyber-instructors often spend many hours writing reports and proposals and attending committee meetings in an attempt to have a voice in implementing their visions of what quality online education should. Much of this time is spent educating and persuading skeptical and/or uncooperative administrative and technical personnel of not only the possibilities afforded by these new technologies, but also the potentially negative pedagogical implications certain policy decisions can have on students, instructors, and support personnel.


Instructors who teach in computer-mediated environments often wear many hats; they not only must adapt their pedagogical approach to the virtual learning environment and become proficient enough with the technological tools they will need to support their pedagogical aims, but they often must troubleshoot and solve technical problems for their students, or at least serve as an intermediary metween their students and technical support personnel.

In my case, there was virtually no technical support available for the internet-based courses I was teaching, and what support was available was limited by the time, capabilities, and willingness (or lack thereof) or an already understaffed, overworked, and underpaid technical support team. Unfortunately, this lack of support is not uncommon in many colleges and universities. In a recent posting to the acw-l listserv, an instructor from a small state university explained the situation at his institution:

We're getting some rumblings that our Academic Computing feels stressed

by overwork, so they're encouraging us (me) to think about getting email

elsewhere which will guarantee 24/365 support, which they flatly will not

do.... Anyway, so far, we and students share the same "free" Pine e-mail.

Jay (Thu 10 Sept 98)

Although Jay’s situation is unfortunately fairly common at this writing, this lack of support will change with time (and is already changing at many forward-thinking colleges and universities) as technology becomes more transparent to the user, as students become more technologically literate, and as technical support budgets for computer-mediated courses are increased. In the meantime, cyber-instructors can expect to continue to receive messages such as the following: Date: Tue, 13 Feb 96 19:35:33 -0600

Subject: confused


From Student Dana Williams:

This is the zillionth time I have tried to send this out and I am very

lost. So eventually I hope I am sending this to you at home.

I think that I am having major problems. I ve checked my mail regularly

and hav even tried to respond to some of the prompts, which I did. I

have sent my first response out a long time ago, but I don t know if I

am sending it to the right source because I never viewed my discussions

with all the other ones. I thought I had figured it out when I talked

to you today. I just eventually read the helpful message on how to

send, so I hope I am doing this right. But then I tried to send it to

the right source and still I got it back. P.S. Please excuse any

misspellings because I am the worse. I hope you are at school on Wed or

at least you can send me a message back on this because on this one

particular prompt- I have sent it out and recieved it back so many


P.S. I will be at school on Wed 14, please send me a message and don't

be surprised if you get another one at school.



Unfortunately, our college had no support system to assist students in situations such as the one Dana found herself in. A telephone help desk had been discussed in committee meetings but had not yet been approved, and student assistants in the campus computer lab received no training other than what they picked up on the job. Thankfully, though, I was online at the time Dana sent her (frantic) message and was able to respond almost immediately. Her grateful reply is as follows: Date: Tue, 13 Feb 96 20:49:54 -0600

Subject: Thanks


Thanks Mr. Clark,

I'm still at school and I just got your message. Thank you for writing

me back and letting me know that I am at least doing it a bit right.

It's about 8:30 and I am about to go but I just wanted to add a little

information. I think I figured out that when we want to add something

to just the list serve and not respond to anyperson's writtings we go to

the web and click on Gatsby-L. Right. I know what I have been doing

right is just clicking on reply from someone's message and it [Re:

message] (returns) the message. But I realize that I have not sent in a

whole documentation just from myself wilthout going through a reply;

that's where I think I have been messing up in the past. I want to

later ask you something........ when we recieve a blank e-mail that

states in the grey-- Discussion, are we suppose to type {reply} and we

reply on a certain issue to just that number prompt that you previously

put on the list-serve?

I think I have it right. Thanks a bunch!

Dana Williams

Other students were not so fortunate, though. While attempting to connect to our first MOO discussion, in which Texas A&M professor Dennis Berthold fielded student’s questions about Nathaniel Hawthorne and The Scarlet Letter, students ran into a variety of difficulties, some of which were beyond their or my control, and some of which were due to my lack of experience with proprietary Web browsers such as the one developed by America Online for its members. In the following message, one of my most energetic and technologically literate students expressed her dismay at not being able to connect for the MOO session: Mr. Clark:

thomas and I have been trying to get into the daedalus for the moo talk

since 7:30pm and we haven't been able to do it. It's going on 9pm and I

don't know what else we can do. If you get this message soon, which I

guess you won't since you're in the moo discussion. I was really looking

forward to this. Anyway, I hope you got my message about the disk you

gave me with the Winworld had a virus so we couldn't use it. Write me

and tell me how the discussion went.

See ya!

Ginnie (4 Mar 1996)

Another student, Howard (who along with Ginnie had taken a computer-assisted composition course from me the previous semester and thus was also fairly proficient when it came to computers) also was unable to participate in the MOO session: Subject: YO! MR.CLARK!

If you don't already know, I missed the Moo session last Thursday. It wasn't because I wasn't at my computer. I tried and tried but I dind'nt have the complete correct directions. I typed in where the moo was located

( 7777), and also AOL does not have an "options" button nor was I able to "click on worlds". Anyway, Is there something I need to do to compensate for what I missed?

Howard (Tue, 13 Feb 1996)

In subsequent semesters I have been able to work through some of these problems, and some have taken care of themselves (America Online, for example, now allows users to choose their own browser, such as Netscape Navigator, so I now require all students to use the same browser so I can make sure all course-related material is compatible with that browser). As new technologies emerge, though, online instructors must learn them sufficiently to incorporate appropriate features into their courses and to help guide students who are unfamiliar with the technology. As mentioned previously, though, the amount of technical support instructors will need to give will probably decrease as students who are now being weaned on computers as early as kindergarten make their way through the ranks.


The shifting roles of instructors also affect the degree of interaction and relationships with administrators and technical support staff; this increased interaction and need for forming and maintaining relationships with people who "speak a different language" adds yet another layer to the already complex set of social dynamics that must be maintained in a careful balance in order for the instructor to create a constructive virtual learning environment for the students.

In a departure from the tone of much of this study, this section takes a hard look at the realities of teaching a virtual course. As Hawisher and Selfe, Howard and others have observed, much of the literature produced by researchers in the computers and writing field tends to be extremely positive and overly enthusiastic in an attempt to win over administrators and other faculty who may be skeptical or even hostile to the concept of computer-mediated education. It is my hope that this section will provide a more balanced perspective than much of what has been produced by computers and writing research so far (including, admittedly, much of the material in the preceding sections of this study), and will therefore be an important contribution to the field.

One of the drawbacks of being a pioneer in any field is that one must do the "ground-breaking" work, often, as I have discussed, for little or no pay and at great personal expense, financial as well as emotional. One of the most difficult challenges for the online instructor, especially if, as is often the case, he or she is one of the first at a particular campus to attempt teaching a course in a completely virtual environment, is the ignorance, resistance, and sometimes open hostility to the idea by administrators, technical personnel, and even other instructors. Educating the uninitiated, often against their will, and enlisting their support is therefore one of the most important but often overlooked responsibilities of the virtual instructor, and will remain so at least for the foreseeable future.


Mid-level administrators such as deans and department heads are increasingly being told by higher-level educrats to begin offering computer-mediated courses (partially in an attempt to "keep up with the Joneses," partially out of fear of for-profit institutions such as the University of Phoenix Online) but are often completely unaware of online pedagogy or the time and effort instructors must put in before a course is ready to go "online." The feeling of being "ordered" to implement online courses and the uneasiness about measuring the quality of learning in a virtual environment, combined with already tight budgetary constraints at many institutions, leads many administrators to a sense of frustration.

Much of the angst associated with the introduction of online teaching, though, is not really new, especially in the area of distance education. Concerns such as quality of instruction and fair and adequate evaluation have been around since the introduction of correspondence courses offered through the U.S. Postal Service, and will continue as new technologies make possible new course delivery methods. In their report entitled Tele-communications in Oklahoma: A Summary of Research, C.L. Dillon and D. Harwell note that every new delivery technology must pass the wary scrutiny of the skeptics, but usually with the same results:

Historically, the introduction of each new medium of instruction is accompanied by research designed to determine if it is as effective as traditional instruction. . . . Each new wave of comparison studies brings similar results--no significant difference. (Russell, 1999) It behooves cyber-instructors, then, to utilize the research conducted by Dillon and Hardwell and others in the distance education field to help construct persuasive arguments for the validity and effectiveness of virtual learning environments.
    Course load issues

Another issue that many online instructors face is the constant battle to keep enrollments in computer-mediated writing courses to a manageable level. College and university administrators are faced with increasing pressure from higher management, politicians, and taxpayers to do "more with less," and, unfortunately, one of the easiest ways to accomplish this goal is to enroll as many students in each course as possible, often exceeding the recommended enrollment limits. In the field of writing instruction, the National Council of Teachers of English has recommended that no more than 18 students be enrolled in a writing course. Unfortunately, this recommendation is widely disregarded, especially in community colleges, and course enrollments of 25 to 30 are not uncommon.

With online courses, the amount of time instructors spend on individual interaction with students increases, and it is important that enrollment limits be reduced even further and strictly adhered to. At the college where I taught, the enrollment limits for online courses were originally set at 20. At first, this was not a problem, as most students were not technology literate enough to desire these courses, and course enrollments were actually lower than the limit; for example, my first online course, taught via a local BBS in 1993, had an enrollment of just 12 students. By 1996, though, due to the increasing technology skills of students, the decrease in cost and increase in availability of computer access, as well as word of mouth advertising by the students, the popularity of the online courses at my college had grown so much that 27 students enrolled in my survey of American literature I course. Despite my constant requests for a reasonable cap on the enrollment limits, and recommendations for lower enrollment caps made by both college and district-wide committees on distance learning, as many as 35 students were enrolled in subsequent courses, forcing me to cut down on the number of assignments and listserv discussions so that I (and the students participating in the listserv) could keep up with the course. Appeals to the faculty senate, reams of memos to deans and vice-presidents, and even the recommendations of the district-wide committee could not overcome this problem, and this is not an isolated incident. An informal survey of Alliance for Computers and Writing listserv (acw-l) members I conducted in 1997 found that there is a wide discrepancy between colleges on their policies of release time/incentive pay for course development, incorporation of computer-mediated courses into teaching/workload guidelines, and number of students allowed to enroll in each course. This is an issue that continues to haunt faculty and administrators alike, and is likely to get worse before it gets better.

  Desire to control faculty schedules

At many institutions, particularly community colleges, instructors are required to be physically present on campus a certain number of hours per day or week in order to be available for students, attend committee meetings, etc. For example, at my college, faculty were required to fill out a form each semester explaining how they would divide their time; the form listed hours in class, hours in office, and committee and other responsibilities (advising student groups, etc.). If these hours did not add up to 35 hours per week, faculty were expected to fill in the appropriate number of hours they would be on campus in order to meet the 35 hour requirement. These hours could be spent in the faculty lounge, the cafeteria, the library, etc., as long as the faculty member was physically present. Since the college did not provide me with the necessary equipment or technical support to run the courses, however, I ended up doing most of the work for my online courses (2-3 courses out of my 5-6 course load) from home via the dial-up account provided to me as a graduate student in the English Ph.D. program at the state university. Even though 40-60% of my work was done from home, and most of my "office hours" were conducted via e-mail or chat room conferences, I was the only instructor with such as schedule, and since there was no policy in place to account for faculty telecommuting, I was still expected to spend the same 35 hours/week on campus as all other full-time faculty. As with my requests for lower course enrollment limits, my requests to alter this requirement were repeatedly denied, leaving me to spend a large amount of my "personal" time on evenings and weekends keeping up with the heavy volume of student e-mail and online assignments that needed to be graded. For example, in the Spring 1996 semester, I taught six courses:

In addition, I developed the curriculum and web sites and managed a separate listserv for each of these courses with no release time or incentive pay, and also served as co-sponsor of the honors society, chair of the faculty senate Technology and Curriculum Issues committee, and as a member of the technology subcommittee of the college’s Strategic Initiative Task Force. After consulting with my dean, I met with the academic vice-president to request a one-course release for the semester in an attempt to 1) reduce the stress involved with this heavy load, 2) allow time to train another instructor who wanted to develop an online course (the survey of American literature course, although only in its second semester, was already attracting enough students to open another section) and 3) provide more time for personal interaction with the students in the online courses. After our meeting, in which the prospects for a course release did not seem very promising, I composed the following memo: To:

Subject: A Day in the Life . . .


Today we discussed my request for a one-course reduction in load for next

semester. Just to give you an idea of how I fill my days, here was today:

A Typical Day in the Life of Larry Clark

5 am--wake up, check e-mail--36 new messages ( including 12 from students in modem class, one from a student inquiring about class for spring, one from a professor at North Dakota School of Mines with whom I've been discussing having our technical communications students collaborate on technical reports, one from a book publisher from whom I requested a desk copy of a new handbook on teaching online classes, several from the Alliance for Computers and Writing listserv ranging from direct mail to me regarding earlier postings to questions from other computers & composition instructors to a message from someone putting together an anthology on the use of computers in the humanities requesting that I write a chapter on the Gatsby Project, one from a professor at UT whose students are making Web pages for literature and with whom I share information about my Web stuff and new literature sites, several messages from a listserv comprised of listserv owners around the country, which I read to keep up with the latest information on listservs and very often send questions out to asking for help, and sometimes even send message offering advice to others!)

6-7:30--grade essays

7:30 am--wake up kids, take shower, eat toast

8am--drop kids off at school, drive to The college

9:30--12:20--teach two classes in S212; in between lend a new book on

Netscape (which I learned about at A&M conference), talk to Karen in bookstore to see if she can order the book in time for Spring so students won't have to go to Bookstop and so the college can get part of

the profits, talk to Cliff about multimedia and the upcoming new mail system and The college Web server, listen to two faculty members complain about poor technical support for themselves and their students, grab a cup of coffee, lend Sally internet connection software I got from A&M (free, legal shareware copies of software I am entitled to as a student who pays $50/semester for computer fees), help three students who are not in my class with technical questions because they couldn't find the lab assistant or the lab assistant didn't know the answer, give my number to a former student who is an art major and who has volunteered to create a logo for the technical communications journal, _Informatica_, which my tech comm students write and publish on the WWW each semester, discuss the progress of the ACW conference with the Patty, the ACW administrative assistant, talk to Kal Hamza, Robert Jones and Bill Simcick about new upgrade for ToolBook--oh yea, I think I went to the restroom somewhere along the line . . .

12:20--12:35--stay in lab to answer student questions

12:35--1:00--meet w/Joe McCann and Robert Jones to discuss how to offer special independent study courses, policies on distributing information about courses, computer equipment needs, request for a one-course release time for next spring

1:00--3:00--go back to computer lab to help students on final projects and


3:00--4:30--return phone calls from prospective and current students, write

and printout final exams for two courses, eat bread and drink a cup of coffee

4:30--5:15--help student work on Powerpoint presentation for his final

presentation next week

5:15--6:40--drive back to College Station (rush hour, normally takes about

60-70 min.)

6:45--pick up kids

7:00-8:00--shop for groceries

8:00--9:00--fix dinner for kids and get kids ready for bed

9:00--turn on computer, login to e-mail; 48 new messages (including one from a professor at A&M to discuss presentation of my Web pages at A&M next week, one from a new subscriber to American Literature listserv (see appendage), 14 from modem students, 4 from other professors

around the country with whom I am collaborating on writing a book about

computers and composition [I was asked to join this "elite" group of eight by the editor, one of the top three or four names in the field], one from a professor at Santa Monica Community College (whom I have never met) asking for advice on demonstrating Daedalus software to his fellow English faculty, several from the ACW list, several from the listserv owner's list answering a question I had asked about how to post archives of the listserv discussion on the Flannery O'Conner Web page (which I created mainly for the American Lit and 1302 WWW classes this semester but which is now the most widely used reference for Flannery O'Conner on the Internet), one containing an issue of one of five or six online journals about computer technology which I subscribe to to keep with the field and to look for articles of interest to my technical communications students and my colleagues at the college)

9:00--10:45--go through messages I didn't have time to go through this

morning--answer some, file some, delete some, go through new messages from tonight and do the same, write note to Joe McCann

10:15--kids are finally asleep

10:45--11:30--whip up something and eat it

11:30--1:00 or . . .--I'll probably answer more e-mail (of 84 messages I've

received today, only about 30 have been read, six more have come in as I wrote this note), work on Web pages for next semester, work on article about our online English courses I've been asked to write for the premiere issue of Kairos, a Cyberjournal devoted to the discussion of teaching writing with computer technology, sponsored by Rensalear Poytechnical Instititute--so far the article consists of 60 separate Web documents.

1:00--6:00--go to bed, read students essays until I fall asleep (maybe)

6:00am wake, turn on computer, check e-mail (usually 15-40 messages appear overnight--most of my students do their coursework at night)

8:00--drive kids to school

etc., etc., etc.

Just to give you an idea--some days are worse, some days are better--I have the kids every other weekend--the weekends I don't have them I'm usually at a conference or on the computer for 12-14 hours/day . . .

Thanks for reading (if you got this far!)

See ya,


Unfortunately, the request was denied, "based on the present status of reduced load understandings," and the fact that another instructor had been given summer release time to develop an online first-year comp course, even though none of the material she developed was appropriate for the courses I was teaching. I was also expected to be on campus the entire 35 hours per week, since that was "college policy" for all instructors regardless of whether or not they were teaching online courses. Ironically, although too late for my benefit, the community college district of which my college was a part eventually implemented a number of course releases for development of computer-mediated courses in a variety of areas. Of course, since I and by that time two other colleagues from the English faculty at my college had succeeded in developing online equivalents to all of our required English courses, there were none left for us to develop.

Fear of lawsuits

The fear of being dragged into court has, unfortunately, put a damper on many innovative projects that the use of technology in education has made possible. One example of how the fear of litigation can stifle innovation is The Gatsby Project, a collaborative venture which I co-founded with Diana Martinez, a local junior high English teacher, enabled students in my American literature courses and students at several local junior and senior high schools to discuss novels and short stories via e-mail, and had been run successfully via a local BBS for two years; the project was scheduled to move to the internet in Fall 1995. The project was honored by Secretary of Education Richard Riley and was used by my college, the Texas Association of College and University Presidents, Compaq Computer Corporation, and others in brochures and press releases as an example of collaboration between the college and local school districts. Unfortunately, the Communications Decency Act and highly publicized stories of child molesters and pornographers haunting listservs and chat rooms began to cause concern in some administrators that the college might be liable if an underage participant in the Gatsby Project were to receive a lewd message or an obscene graphic via e-mail. Even though parents of the public school students readily signed permission slips so their children could participate, a combination of legal worries, bureaucratic snafus, and technical difficulties effectively killed the once-lauded project. When I finally left the college in August of 1998, the project had still not been revived.

"University course" snafu

One of the most popular computer-mediated courses we offered at the college was a sophomore-level technical communications course that was a requirement for many students at a nearby state university. Since the university was unable to offer enough sections of the course to meet demand, students were encouraged to take the course at local community colleges and transfer the credit. With the blessings of the university’s English department, and in cooperation with the public relations director at the college, I created a series of brochures and posters advertising the availability of composition, technical communications, and literature courses through the college’s "Online English Department." One of the posters stated that students could take the courses from "home, work, or any university computer lab," since that institution made several "open" computer labs available for students’ use. Unfortunately, the then (technologically naive) president of my college saw a copy of the poster and thought that our college’s courses were being offered at the university without his knowledge. Without consulting me or the public relations director, he ordered the academic vice-president to issue a directive demanding that I immediately remove any posters that had been put up and that an advertisement that was scheduled to run in the university’s campus newspaper be cancelled. I was also called into the academic vice-president’s office and ordered to "cease and desist" from publicizing these courses immediately. My efforts to explain the nature of the internet and the way it eliminates barriers such as time and geography were in vain; the posters were destroyed, the ad canceled, and I was reprimanded. I also received a letter a few weeks later from the Associate Provost for Computing and Information Systems at the university, informing me that since I had listed my university e-mail address as a contact on the posters, I was breaking university regulations by "using university resources to support the offerings of another institution, not the purposes for which [my] student account was authorized." The letter also quoted the following paragraph from the University Rules and Regulations, Section 44:

Computing resources are available to all registered students at [this university]. Student university computing resources are to be used only for valid university requirements including educational and student research activities but are not to be used for personal or commercial gain by the student or the student’s associates. It seemed that my college, even though it is a sister state-supported institution, was considered a private business that was benefiting financially from the fact that I was using my university e-mail account to send and receive e-mail messages related to the community college class.

Technical personnel

Most instructors, particularly in traditionally "low-tech" fields such as the teaching of writing or literature, have very little contact with support staff in the technical services area. Aside from the initial installation of organizational communications necessities such as telephones or e-mail accounts, which, depending on the institution might even be maintained by secretarial staff or student workers, instructors in fields such as English typically have no other reason to come in contact with the "tekkies." For the instructor teaching a computer-mediated course in a networked classroom or virtual environment, however, communication with and the development and maintenance of a good working relationship with these technical personnel is not only essential, but a part of the everyday workload. The degree to which technical personnel support the goals of the online instructor, both philosophically and practically, can play a large role in the success or failure of the virtual classroom. In my contact with other cyber-instructors around the country, anecdotes of technical support difficulties are a frequent topic of conversation. In a recent e-mail to the Alliance for Computers and Writing listserv (acw-l), an instructor from a state university located on the east coast described the situation at his institution:

To: Multiple recipients of list <>

Subject: Re: English Online: Enrichment or Distance Learning?

We have people such as myself using email and web research in classes (altho I have not yet learnt how to create my own webpage, so you can see I'm light years behind many of you in the use of this technology (our academic computing support dept has shrunk from six to two since the summer, but that's another story, or another section of the clause). Etc. I'll come back to this later -- just walking out the door to go to class, and getting a paper on this topic all xeroxed up to be collated for a conference this weekend -- we're not able to telnet into our accounts here

from another site, in a security over-reaction that has not been fixed (see above, on shrinkage of critical resource). Hoo boy.

Regards – J (Thu Oct 30 1997)



This study has attempted to enact a critique of several of the claims in the literature on teaching via computer-mediated communication. In many ways, my findings verify and corroborate the often enthusiastic claims, much of which have been heretofore backed largely by strictly anecdotal evidence, that the virtual environment provides a "risk-free" contact zone in which students can be introduced to academic discourse, practice various rhetorical strategies, and form self-regulating discourse communities that provide support and encouragement for their members, who can then collaborate in the making of knowledge within those communities. This study has also shown that contemporary theories of literary criticism and pedagogy, such as Fish’s reader-response theory and Scholes’writing "within, upon and against" texts are evident as students perform course activities, giving them valuable practice in the same essential activities in which professional writers and literary critics spend the majority of their time engaged.

On the other hand, this study has taken a hard look at some of the drawbacks and failures of teaching and learning in a computer-mediated environment. The data suggest that although a certain type of student (the self-motivated, text-based learner) tends to thrive in an online classroom, another type (the outer-directed, more verbally communicative learner) can often become lost, disoriented, and frustrated at the lack of face-to-face interaction as well as, as in the case of Sally, the sheer volume of writing and reading that are required while interacting textually rather than verbally with her classmates and her instructor. Finally, the amount of time, effort, and revision of pedagogical strategies required of the cyber-instructor (a point often downplayed in much of the literature to date) can be a barrier to the less technologically inclined instructor who is considering teaching an online course.

Entering into the realm of virtual instruction, then, is not for the weak at heart. Although almost every cyber-instructor that I have met would never consider going back to a proscenium-based teaching environment, every one of them has an arsenal of stories similar to the ones I have shared in this section. In fact, many late-night gatherings at the annual Computers and Writing Conference turn into group therapy sessions in which participants share horror stories, offer each other support and encouragement, then vow to return to the next conference to compare notes after another year of abuse.

For all of the struggles, though, the vision of virtually unlimited access to information combined with the opportunity for students to form and participate in virtual knowledge making and sharing communities keeps those of us who have pioneered this field coming back for more, and continues to draw more "converts" as the technology becomes more user-friendly and as the benefits become more clearly evident. There remains, though, much research to be conducted on the effects of computer-mediated learning and online discourse communities on invention, collaboration and the writing process, as well as the theoretical and pedagogical implications of shifting from a proscenium-based to a computer-mediated model of writing instruction.

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