Review of :
“Using the Internet to Teach Composition”
By Patrick Sullivan
For Teaching English in the Two Year College. Urbana Sep 2000 Vol 28 Iss. 1 p21-31
This article discusses the advantages of using an online discussion forum in a writing class. Many of the issues that Sullivan addresses are real ones that I can see play out in many upper-level undergraduate courses that I am currently taking. This suggests to me that his ideas can work in an environment with students at many different levels. Students who do not normally speak out in class are encouraged by the NON face-to-face experience of a discussion forum, where social cues and expectations no longer play a role in what they will share with the class. Also, the knowledge that everything that they create will be “published” to the Internet and read by many different people automatically inspires a higher quality in student writing. Without the constraint of class-time, the students are allowed to produce writing and express their thoughts in a volume that would otherwise be impossible. Writing allows for students to really develop their thoughts and think about what exactly they are trying to say and how to say it clearly. All of these are great benefits in classes with large numbers and not enough time to get every single student involved in discussion and producing writing for several audiences rather than just the teacher. I think that this article accumulates most of the points made by scholars who are in favor of implementing online resources in writing classes and expresses them in a clear and concise format with real-world examples from his classroom that show them in action. However, in one of the articles last sections, Sullivan emphasizes that using online discussion does NOT by any means make teaching writing easy. He notes that the concepts and importance of content are still present, but utilizing tools at your dispense makes you a resourceful teacher.