How Ryerson is leading Canadian universities in multimodal writing support

Animated GIF that reads "creators welcome"

By Stephanie Bell & Brian Hotson
Vol. 1, No. 1 (Winter 2020)

An interview with John Hannah and Tesni Ellis from Ryerson University’s Student Affairs Special Projects & Storytelling team


Despite a dramatic rise of plug-and-play applications for producing and publishing multimodal web content, their migration into higher education classrooms has been slow. Likewise, support from Canada’s writing centres has remained fixed on traditional genres of writing, such as the research paper, lab report, and literature review. While researching for our forthcoming book on the future of multimodal digital writing support for students by Canadian writing centres/programs, we’ve been unable to find many programs of tutoring multimodal writing and production in university writing centre contexts. A noteworthy outlier is the Multiliteracy Support Appointments program listed on Ryerson’s Writing Support website.

We contacted John Hannah and Tesni Ellis at Ryerson to chat about their multimedia supports. John is Director, Special Projects in Student Affairs and former director of the Writing Centre, English Language support, and Graduate Student Support. Tesni is Coordinator, Student Affairs Storytelling within Student Affairs, and a former Writing Consultant at Ryerson’s Writing Centre herself.


Stephanie: Hi John and Tesni – thanks for agreeing to talk with us. Given that there seems to be slow uptake on this front, we’re interested in how your program got started. Can you tell us that story?  Continue reading “How Ryerson is leading Canadian universities in multimodal writing support”

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


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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”