Special issue


Collaborative writing assignments are an essential element of teaching technical and professional writing, and they should be included in online writing instruction (OWI). The COVID-19 pandemic was a drastic interruption of regular teaching practices that had the potential of derailing the practice of assigning online collaborative writing projects, which often require a heavy investment of time and energy to manage. As educators and scholars, we must learn from the experiences we had during the pandemic time. For example, amidst the trials and turbulence of the period, we had an opportunity to learn from some of the practices we undertook and identify ways to support post-pandemic team-writing online. This article focuses on the integration of online collaborative writing projects, among which are team-written assignments. Using an archival case study approach combined with reflective writing, several current intersections are explored: the landscape of Online Writing Instruction (OWI): the application of four specific themes to collaborative writing projects; how digital meeting platforms have transformed collaborative writing projects; assessing collaborative writing projects completed during mandated isolation; and how best to support student learning in all of the preceding intersections. Results suggest that agile practices, transparency, adaptability, and virtual makerspaces support online team-writing assignments.

Practitioner Notes

  1. Team writing fosters critical thinking skills, collaboration with others, and the application of creative solutions in navigating group dynamics; this type of writing should be a consistent part of online writing instruction.
  2. Many employers want to hire and retain people who understand the necessary qualities that ensure successful team-written documents of any mode or media.
  3. Fewer than half of online writing instructors responding to a 2021 survey made use of collaborative writing in their courses. This represents an opportunity to enrich and expand online writing instruction.
  4. Team writing online should consist of team work and individual work; students report greater engagement when there is a balance of both types of work.
  5. Just as physical makerspaces encourage collaboration and experimentation, virtual makerspaces can also offer students safe places that support the development of their collaborative, creative, and critical thinking skills.