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.

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.