Christopher R. Friend
International Journal of Online Pedagogy and Course Design (IJOPCD), 3(3), 1–17. doi:ijopcd.2013070101
Publication year: 2013-07-01


As online education grows in popularity, the literature on such courses has expanded as dramatically. However, discussion of online tools specifically for composition instruction has received far less attention than general course-management systems and online discussion forums. The composition process has changed with the advent of computer processing, yet composition research rarely focuses on the advantages of the digital composition process. That process could change again with recent developments in social systems and networked, cloud-based applications. This article highlights the way online composition platforms can meet the needs of writing courses. New tools can provide new opportunities for student collaboration, teacher involvement, and writing-process research. This article uses Sally J. McMillan’s model of Cyber-Interactivity and Robert R. Johnson’s model of User-Centered Design as frameworks in which to view collaborative writing, arguing that students in online composition courses need collaborative tools that allow a single document to be created by a student, edited by others, and commented on by all. The ill-fated Google Wave platform is evaluated through this perspective. Practical benefits of the platform and implications for writing instruction are included. Collaborative online composition, using systems with features like Google Wave, is presented as essential in modern composition courses.