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What we have here is a failure to communicate: the criticality of writing in online instruction


Computers and Composition Volume 18, Number 4, ISSN 8755-4615 Publisher: Elsevier Ltd


This article addresses how online instructors can improve their email communications with students. The characteristics and demands of online instruction are described and characterized as depending on the instructor’s ability to communicate in writing. A model to guide instructors in their online communications, the Golden Triangles of Online Communication, is presented. The first triangle underscores the criticality of considering (a) the online learning environment context, (b) the learner, and (c) the learning task. The second triangle presents three critical questions that instructors using online communications must quickly answer (a) What is this about? (b) Why should I care? and (c) What am I supposed to do? The Golden Triangles represent an effort to provide assistance to instructors in the difficult task of providing high quality instruction with high student satisfaction in online learning. In the final analysis, we underscore the importance of instructors’ writing skills in effective and appealing online in teaching.


Ragan, T.J. & White, P.R. (2001). What we have here is a failure to communicate: the criticality of writing in online instruction. Computers and Composition, 18(4), 399-409. Elsevier Ltd. Retrieved November 29, 2020 from .

This record was imported from Computers and Composition on January 31, 2019. Computers and Composition is a publication of Elsevier.

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