How to make an online lab successful

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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