Hi, all and thanks to Clint for getting things up and blogging. I'm Neal Lerner, and I've logged on to this site because I'm currently not in a writing center (either directing or tutoring), and I miss it! So I thought I'd get some vicarious thrills by reading about your experiences and contributing my occasional two cents. What I am currently doing is working in a WAC program at MIT; I teach a course on writing in biology and work with students in a management course who are writing a required paper (this is all part of MIT's new Communications-Intensive course requirement).
At any rate, I just finished responding to lots of those management papers, and it really reminded me of on-line tutoring. I had little context for what students were writing, the assignment was vague, and my sole means of interactions was through written feedback on the students' texts. It wasn't particularly satisfying (and, yes, I did invite each and every one of them to meet me face-to-face. No takers so far). If this is the future of writing-center work, I'm frightened! I agree with Liz that ideally in an on-line environment we try and figure out ways to "engage students in an online discussion about their work" (those are Liz's words). But isn't it sorta unfortunate that the medium itself makes us have to try that much harder? And is it "empowerment" for student writers if they can control the interaction in ways that we don't think makes for particularly productive tutoring?
Just a few questions that bug me on this partly cloudy day in Cambridge, MA.