Online Site Helps Students, Parents, Teachers Get ‘Write’ Answers

By: Contributor Last Updated: August 5, 2010

PurdueLogo.jpegThanks to blogs, YouTube and even video games, traditional writing projects are becoming more digital, and a Purdue University online writing website can help students of all ages understand how to combine writing and these new multimedia forms.

"Today's research papers or class projects often require students to go beyond books and utilize what the Internet has to offer," says Tammy Conard-Salvo, associate director of the Purdue Writing Lab. "Multimedia is a rich resource, and teachers often encourage students to incorporate video and other digital aspects. For example, students might be able to listen to a Holocaust survivor's interview on YouTube, rather than just the read transcript."

As a result, students need to know how to cite these new media sources. Purdue's website, the Online Writing Lab http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/, provides information on citations and multimedia uses, as well as the basics of writing, grammar and mechanics, writer's block, style guides and punctuation. The writing lab also has a telephone hotline at 765-494-3723, and specific questions can be sent to a writing lab tutor at http://owl.english.purdue.edu/contact/

"Proper citation is extremely important because technology makes it easier to obtain material, and there are often copyright or credibility concerns," Conard-Salvo says. "Citation also is essential to help readers find the original source of your material.

"And, unfortunately, digital documents can make it easier to plagiarize. We have information at the OWL that explains plagiarism. The main point is to document any words, ideas or other productions that are not your own."

The writing lab tutors also hear from teachers and instructors about the growing concern that students use text messaging shorthand in papers, Conard-Salvo says.

OWL also has educational materials for teachers to use in their classrooms and resources for people seeking jobs, such as résumé preparation. People from 125 countries use the online tool and the site received more than 161 million hits last year.