Encouraging Revision Practices

A core component of writing pedagogy is supporting students' revision processes. How do we support students in practicing revision while learning online?

Promising Practices for Supporting Revision Online

  1. Offer students a variety of tools for engaging in the revision process. Given the fact that students are geographically scattered and may not all have access to the same kinds of materials for revision, it is important to offer a variety of ways for students to revise. For example, if you typically teach an activity where students re-arrange their ideas from a paper by organizing sticky notes, offer students steps for using paper sticky notes, but also provide examples of digital platforms they could use to re-create the experience of using sticky notes (see Arranging Ideas in Digital Spaces for digital tool suggestions for this very purpose). In the assignment submission process, accept submissions of revised work from students in a variety of file formats. Try not to mandate the use of particular software or programs that might not be available to everyone. For example, not all students may have access to Microsoft Word, especially if they are accessing course material from a mobile phone or from a Chromebook laptop (a type of laptop that only runs the Google Chrome web browser and nothing else). 
  2. Offer students a variety of ways for engaging in the revision process. Different tools might offer students different ways of conceptualizing their revision process. Be sure to frame the use of those tools through pedagogically sound practices that might help students see revisions that are both global and local. For example, what are some ways that digital tools or infrastructures can provide students with different insight into how their work can be structured and framed? How might that compare to some of the paper-based technologies students might have had access to or exposure to beyond an online learning environment? How might that shape their engagement?
  3. Build in clear timelines for revision. Revision processes for students can be easier to follow if students have a clear sense of the steps that they might take. Instructors might consider creating regular timelines and patterns for revision workflows, detailing when and how students might complete different stages of the revision process as they're working through their writing. In an online class especially, developing routines can be extremely helpful to students. Think about what kinds of routines you might encourage students to follow as they revise and then follow through on those routines during synchronous class meetings or as part of asynchronous class activities. 
  4. Create ample opportunities for peer feedback and engagement. In an online class environments, students might feel additionally motivated to revise their work if they know that their peers will be offering them feedback. Social opportunities are even more important in an online environment where students might not have as much access to socializing opportunities as they might when on-campus and meeting in-person. Ensuring that there are opportunities for students to engage with each other will be critical for improving students' senses of support as they work through the revision process. 

Digital Tools to Support Revision Practices Online

If you're looking for some tools or applications to support students in their revision process, here are some ideas that can foster some benefiical habits of mind: 

Tools for Helping Students Outline and Organize Ideas

  • Google Jamboard
  • LucidChart

Tools for Helping Students Keep Track of Changes in Written Documents

  • Google Docs
  • Microsoft Word