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How to make an online lab successful

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Excelsior’s Online Writing Lab is successful because it links pedagogy with multimedia that engages, not just entertains

Excelsior-College-online-writing-labEarlier this month, Excelsior College launched a highly interactive, media-rich Online Writing Lab (OWL) and opened it up for free to the public.

If the more than 20 college campuses already incorporating the OWL haven’t proven its effectiveness, the Evaluation Consortium at the University of Albany has; its nationwide pilot study found the OWL boosted final student grades by 5 points.

The secret to the OWL’s success lies in its ability to bridge pedagogy with multimedia that engages, not just entertains.

When the team at Excelsior College set out to build a new kind of Online Writing Lab, the team focused on using multimedia to reinforce key writing concepts for students. The OWL targets beginning writers who might have little experience with writing or experience so distant the writing process and vocabulary of writing felt foreign to them.

The goal was to make writing instruction simple, clear, and more memorable for these students.

(Next page: How to successfully implement an Online Writing Lab)

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2 Responses to How to make an online lab successful

  1. Diane Dowdey

    April 2, 2014 at 9:03 pm

    As an English professor and former director of a writing center, I can’t see what is all that innovative about editing passages. This has been a standard exercise for many years, and there is no evidence it is more effective than sentence
    editing. Working with a student’s writing means just that, working with his or her writing.

  2. MikeLesczinski

    April 9, 2014 at 10:47 am

    Many students do not have access to a personal writing tutor or teacher. The OWL is open 24/7 and provides students with the ability to work their way through each writing lesson, apply what they’ve learned, and receive immediate feedback. The ability to practice on their own is far more innovative than we have seen in other free, open-source writing resources, which rely heavily on multiple-choice questions.

    In addition, the OWL offers a host of other unique and innovative features, including a role-playing video game that teaches users about the writing process.

    -Mike Lesczinski, Excelsior College

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