Constructivism Online: A Survey Of Freshman
Writing Distance Learning Courses

Dan Melzer

Florida State University

In this hypertext essay I survey twenty online freshman writing courses to find out if these cybercomp classes have the kind of discussion and collaboration most writing teachers value in their conventional classrooms. Before I began my research, I was skeptical about distance learning, as I discuss in the section concerning my research motivation. Would these online writing classes operate under traditional notions of the correspondence course, or would they be taught in a constructivist framework that values student-centered learning, collaboration, and discussion? After explaining my research motivation, I define constructivism and discuss related research into distance learning and technology. Then I discuss whether the online courses I surveyed encourage student-centered learning. The next two sections of my essay answer the question: Do these online writing classes value collaborationand discussion? I was pleasantly surprised by what I found, and I hope that by the conclusion of this hypertext I will have persuaded you that the online classroom can be as constructivist as the conventional classroom, as long as teachers take advantage of the communication technology available.

Research Motivation
Constructivism Defined
Research into Distance Learning and Technology
Student-Centered Learning Online
Collaboration Online
Discussion Online
Research Method
Works Cited

Currents: An E-Journal Currents in Electronic Literacy Fall 1999 (2), <>