(Re)Focusing on the Process in Online Environments  

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If we can learn anything from ChatGPT and all other AI tools, it is that their product is the result of people who immersed themselves in the process of collecting information before arriving at the final product.  The secret to success is what took place behind the scenes —the work it took to arrive at the final product. 

Writing as a Process: Barriers in the Online Classroom  

Writing as a process is not a new concept. Unfortunately, in online environments (especially asynchronous environments), teaching to the process can be challenging. Sometimes teachers, and as a result, students tend to become fixated on looking at samples of the final product, clouding the importance of the process. Writing turns into the process of mimicking. 

Looking for Solutions in Online Classes 

Searching for ways to instill Writing as a Process in my online classes, I came across two useful tools to help my students brainstorm and reflect on their writing before producing a final product. 

  1. University of Arizona Global Campus Writing Center Thesis Generator: This web tool walks students through the process of writing a thesis statement for an argumentative essay. In six structured steps, the user is prompted to type their chosen topic, list the main supporting points, and provide an opposing view. The user can then click at the “generate your thesis” prompt to see the completed statement. I like this tool because each step comes with instructions to help the user brainstorm and develop a thesis statement that also acknowledges the opposing view. 
  1. H5P Documentation Tool: This H5P tool allows for the creation of step-by-step prompts to guide learners through the process of writing. The example on the H5P website refers to the tool as a “wizard” by breaking down the process of writing into 1. Goals, 2. Plan, 3. Project Work, 4. Evaluation, and 5. Goal Assessment; steps 4 and 5 invite the user to engage in deep reflection. The tool is flexible as well. Each step can be modified to match other types of processes. For essay writing, for example, the steps could include 1. Purpose, audience, and tone; 2. Brainstorming vocabulary based on the topic; 3. Answering the question; 4. Outlining; and 5. Drafting. I especially like that students’ work can be saved as a downloadable Word document and as a retrievable file stored on the back end of the tool if the H5P application has been integrated with the Learning Management System (LMS) such as Moodle, Canvas, Blackboard or Brightspace.  

A Word to the Wise 

My advice would be to try these tools first. You will find that in an online environment, these tools can offer students the opportunity to (re)focus on the process before thinking about the final product. They can also be used as evidence of process taking place and as assistance to help to inculcate in students the importance of processing information before inputting a final product.  

What do you do to help students to (re)focus on the process? Do you have a favourite tool or activity? 

Links to resources mentioned in this post:   

  1. https://writingcenter.uagc.edu/thesis-generator  
  1. https://h5p.org/documentation-tool  

Hi, my name is Cecilia. I love taking part in good brain awakening discussions. Blogging, I find, lends itself for that. I also believe in sharing my skills through scholarly practice, which is why I write regularly and have presented at several conferences, including TESL Ontario, TESL Toronto, CALL, and at Seneca College. My M.A. in applied linguistics along with my skills and experience have led me to my current position at Centennial College, where I teach English and ESL in the School of Advancement. I'm truly passionate about what I do: teaching, writing, creative expression, and helping my students (both L1 and L2) gain agency and take control of their own learning. Thank you for your readership and I look forward to reading and answering your comments. You can find me on Twitter @capontedehanna


2 thoughts on “(Re)Focusing on the Process in Online Environments  ”

    1. Hi Khody 👋🏻!
      Hope the info is helpful 😊!
      I’m always looking for resources to engage students in the process of learning, one step at a time.

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