CWCR/RCCR Video Chat || Programming, technology, and resource development during the COVID-19 disruption

A Writing Centre Directors’ & Managers’ Roundtable

Clare Bermingham, University of Waterloo, Guest editor
Stephanie Bell, York University, Co-editor
Brian Hotson, Saint Mary’s University, Co-editor

Vol. 1, No. 1 (Winter 2020)

With all the changes to writing centres due to the COVID-19 disruption, many directors and managers are asking questions, wanting to know, “What is everybody doing to manage this change?” To help with this, we organized the blog’s first Video Chat (hopefully the first of many). These Video Chats are moderated text-based and video-based discussions. The blog editors invite proposals for Video Chat topics and guest editors to moderate them.

Below are the elements from the Video Chat, including:

  • Topics, discussion questions, and agenda
  • Recording of the video-based discussion
  • Transcript of the text-based discussion
  • A google spreadsheet of topics, questions, and ideas from the Video Chat

We hope that you find this useful for your writing centre.

Video Chat Topics

The Agenda for the Chat was assembled from topics suggest by registrants. The Video Chat moves through the following topics and discussion questions in order:

  • Technology
    • What technology are you using, and which one is working best?
    • What are your expectations for the ethics of support asynchronously?
  • Planning and programming
    • What programming are you offering other other than tutoring?
    • How are you continuing your partnerships with faculty online?
    • What are your plans for spring and summer sessions? Are you planning to be an online-only writing centre for the fall?
  • Pedagogy and practice
    • What are you finding are the best strategies for mirroring the experiential learning opportunities of face-to-face workshop activities within asynchronous online delivery platforms?
    • How are you supporting and creating group online writing sessions and writing groups?
    • What have you put in place to support students’ transition to virtual-only support?
  • Training and staffing
    • How have you changed or adjusted your staff?
    • What tutor training have implemented in this switch to online tutoring?

Video Chat video-based discussion recording

The video discussion was moderated by Clare and Brian.

Video Chat text-based discussion transcript

The text discussion was moderated by Stephanie.

Access the text-based discussion transcript here.

Many participants offered links to valuable materials and resources, which we have included in the information sharing spreadsheet below.

Video Chat information sharing spreadsheet

This spreadsheet provides a space for you and the participants of the Video Chat to ask and answer questions, as well as to provide comments, support, tips-and-tricks, and lessons learned.

CWCR/RCCR Video Chat >> Writing Centre Directors’ & Managers’ Roundtable

Programming, Technology, & Resource Development during COVID-19

Directors’ and Managers’ Roundtable
Tuesday, April 7th
1:00 – 2:30 pm EST

Registration limited
Click to Register

Come together with other writing centre directors and managers to discuss programming, technology, and resource development during the COVID-19 disruption. Learn from each other, and provide your own strategies, failures and successes.

Registration limited to 7 participants
One participant per writing centre

Clare Bermingham (University of Waterloo) and Brian Hotson (Saint Mary’s University)

Stephanie Bell (York University)

Canadian writing centres respond to COVID-19 – final instalment

CWCR/RCCR editorial team
Liv Marken, Stephanie Bell, & Brian Hotson

Now that we’re all a week into this new reality of writing centre work, and university life in general, here are two final submissions from our colleagues at UBC and UOttawa, and their responses to COVID-19.

We continue to want to hear from you. If you have related stories, please contact us at

Centre for Writing and Scholarly Communication

University of British Columbia, Vancouver
Patty Kelly, PhD, Program Manager
Liam Monaghan, Program Coordinator
Bo Lehmann, Program Assistant

March 27, 2020
Thanks to the adaptability of our sixteen undergraduate and graduate Writing Consultants, the Centre for Writing and Scholarly Communication was able to transition to online, asynchronous Writing Consultations within a few hectic days, effective March 17th. We are utilizing WCOnline to host these Consultations and have since added synchronous consultations for graduate students only. Like their Consultant peers, our four graduate student Project Coordinators are also able to complete their work from home. One of them will be hosting a new initiative, a twice-weekly Online Writing Community. This Community will take place on Zoom and will give all members of UBC Vancouver’s community an opportunity to stay motivated and stay connected. Unfortunately, COVID-19 forced us to suspend many of our in-person workshops and events, but we are currently exploring our options for temporarily transforming them into virtual offerings. We never thought we’d so look forward to returning to the office!

University of Ottawa, Academic Writing Help Centre (AWHC)

Janèle Boivin, Academic Success Coordinator
University of Ottawa
Ottawa, Ontario

March 23, 2020
To address the present situation, the Academic Writing Help Centre (AWHC) modified its service delivery model. To support students, a chatting service was made available on March 17th on Facebook from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Monday to Friday. Students can use this service to ask questions related to academic writing and study skills. On this Facebook page, we will also publish answers to frequently asked questions, writing tips and useful resources. We are still answering questions by email; if they require a higher level of support, students are encouraged to book a remote appointment. We are looking into different ways to give these appointments (by phone, through Microsoft Teams). We have informed students of these modified services through our means of communication (website, email and phone). We will continue to promote our services to make sure the students are aware. For now, our Academic Success Coordinators offer the remote appointments.

Guidelines for these new procedures are being written and reviewed by our team. We are also looking into integrating our student writing advisors in the next steps of this adjustment (offering services during evenings and weekends). We are happy to report that students are using the chat services and booking remote appointments. As the situation evolves, so are our ways to make sure students still receive the support needed.

Here are the snapshots from March 17, 2020, March 18, 2020, and March 19, 2020.


Some free pizza sealed the deal: Founding the Millwood High School Writing Centre

By Kristin Welbourn
Vol. 1, No. 2 (Winter 2020)

Kristin Welbourn is the Millwood High School Librarian in Middle Sackville, Nova Scotia. Millwood High School has 800 students.

Millwood High School is a fairly typical school for the area, an area of mostly working-class families. It might seem an odd place for what appears to be the only high school writing centre in Atlantic Canada to originate.

Kristin Wellbourn

About two years ago, I was invited to a high school staff meeting where teachers were reviewing the Grade 10 provincial exam results from the previous three years. As the school Librarian, I don’t usually attend that type of meeting, but the head of the English Department was kind enough to include me in this one. Even to my non-English teacher eyes, it quickly became apparent that when it came to writing, our students’ scores were slipping. Continue reading “Some free pizza sealed the deal: Founding the Millwood High School Writing Centre”

Announcement || The Pilcrow Studio Writing Retreat

Writing is at once two steps away from conversation and a return to conversation. We converse; we internalize conversation as thought; and then by writing, we re-immerse conversation in its external, social medium.” (Bruffee, p. 641)

The Pilcrow Studio Writing Retreat offers writing studies’ scholars the opportunity to write in community with colleagues from across the country. Proposals should involve research projects intended for publication in the fields of writing centres or writing studies, with a view towards writing pedagogy.

May 24th – May 27th, 2020
Bluewater, Ontario 

Call for proposals closes Monday, Feb. 3, 2020

Lake Huron

The idea for this came from a deep desire to create small scholarly writing retreat. As writers and scholars, we have little time to write. And when we write we often write alone, in between classes, or on Saturday afternoons between children’s swimming lessons and play-dates. There’s not enough time at conferences to share in writing. At a retreat we can have a practice together that can result in strengthened thinking, shared ideas, and important contributions to the literature of writing centres and writing studies.

A retreat provides space for tutors, program administrators, instructors, and researchers to write, discuss, enjoy, and share in developing and moving writing projects forward. We know, as scholars of composing process and writing pedagogy, conversation is central to writing and the construction of knowledge.Being together in a space for three or four days, this conversation happens on paper and screens, and around tables and evening fires. Continue reading “Announcement || The Pilcrow Studio Writing Retreat”

Writing centre is spelled -re

CWCA/ACCR President’s message
Sarah King, Director, UTSC Writing Centre
Vol. 1, No. 1 (Winter 2020)

Pencil sketch of Sarah King
Portrait by Sarah’s daughter

It is my great pleasure, as President of the Canadian Writing Centres Association/L’Association des centres canadiennes de rédaction (CWCA/ACCR), to welcome the arrival of the CWCR/RCCR blog onto the Canadian writing centre scene. 

Writing centres are deeply rooted in anglo-Canada, and their form and context is very different from those in the United States. CWCA/ACCR members Michael Kaler and Tyler Evans-Tokaryk’s (University of Toronto) recent (2019) CJSDW/r article lays out the history and unique features of the writing studies scene in Canada, picking up on the work of Margaret Proctor as well as of Heather and Roger Graves to observe that in Canadian universities, “writing centres are often responsible for the design and delivery of much of the writing instruction…whether it is offered through face-to-face appointments, workshops, online resources, or a WAC program” (108). They emphasize not only the central role of writing centres in teaching writing in Canada, but the diversity of our mandates, roles, and institutional locations. And these differences continue beyond large, faculty-lead universities, to writing centres in community colleges, and public and private high schools. 

To support this wide range of centres, we need a publication where writing centre is spelled -re, a space for written discussion of the theories, pedagogies, and politics of writing centres in Canada. We need to learn more about one another and ourselves—in the words of the blog mission, we need a space to “facilitate collective storytelling about Canadian sites of writing tutoring and mentorship.” 

From my perspective as President of CWCA/ACCR, the timing of the CWCR/RCCR is perfect. CWCA started a two-year strategic planning exercise, with the goal of better understanding the needs and interests of Canadian writing centre professionals, graduate and undergraduate tutors, so we can plot our course as an association. 

Personally, I am excited about the blog format. We are still a small enough community that we can be personal. While the CWCA/ACCR conference has grown, we all fit in one lecture hall, and we can all go for a preconference dinner at a restaurant—no hotel ballroom needed. CJSDW/r offers all of us in Canadian writing centres an excellent venue for formal articles. CWCR/RCCR creates another venue, a place to share and even test ideas, projects, histories, and theories before they are fully formal, before or after a workshop at the conference, and to write in a mode that is both scholarly and personal. 

As writing centre professionals and practitioners, we work with writers on a daily basis, offering feedback and advice. Yes, talk about writing is vital to writing centres. But so is writing, and it is all-too-easy to avoid the messy, challenging, excruciating, and exhilarating business of writing ourselves. I know you have a story to share about an initiative from your centre, a teaching or administrative challenge met. I know you have been waiting for a reason to spend some time with the relevant research literature. Particularly if you have not recently written or published scholarly work, I encourage you to take up your pen, your stylus, your keyboard of choice. And then, at whatever stage in the writing process you find it most valuable, go into your writing centre, find a tutor, and sit, for once, in the writer’s chair. 

I look forward to reading you very soon.


Kaler, M., and Evans-Tokaryk, T. (2019). Reflecting on Assessment: Strategies and tools for measuring the impact of a Canadian WAC program. Canadian Journal for Studies in Discourse and Writing 29. pp. 107-132.