Special issue


Like all disciplines in higher education, the teaching of digital writing was profoundly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic as faculty and students moved to emergency remote teaching (ERT). Rapid shifts to synchronous and asynchronous online delivery modes reshaped classrooms built upon frequent peer review and student collaboration in writing, forcing students and faculty into educational technologies that raised issues of privacy, equity, and surveillance. Yet, digital writing faculty responded to these challenges in ways that prioritised individual autonomy of student writers with creative assessments, improved access to texts, thoughtful connections to employers and audiences beyond the academy, and enhanced classroom collaborations via digital technologies. As this Editorial explores, the story of digital writing pedagogy during the pandemic became the story of a constant push and pull with the technologies that created digital writing itself. And just as teachers of digital writing began to emerge from the disruptions of the pandemic, a new wave of digital writing technologies enter the mix: AI-powered writing generators have arrived via applications such as ChatGPT with the seeming potential to shape the role of digital literacy once again. As this Editorial argues, the technologies of digital writing can be harnessed to reflect the values of education – openness, individual autonomy, and the power of knowledge – but only when the practitioners of digital writing pedagogy understand and access digital writing tools. At this time, those tools are again in rapid flux and the digital writing landscape remains profoundly unsettled.

Practitioner Notes

  1. The shift to online teaching during the pandemic affected the teaching of digital writing, leading to better practices for integrating synchronous learning technologies (e.g., Zoom).
  2. Practitioners should be alert to equity and access issues and deliberate in engaging digital teaching platforms, evaluating how they affect collaboration, peer interaction, and student autonomy.
  3. Practitioners should consider specifically whether teaching and assessment tools have a history of decentring and dehumanizing students.
  4. The principles of promoting collaboration and peer review in digital writing classrooms should be retained in a post-pandemic classroom.
  5. Emerging from the pandemic, the teaching of digital writing faces potentially profound literacy changes from the emergence of artificial intelligence writing generators.