Online Writing Labs

I've come across so many great online writing labs (OWLS) and resources that I compiled a list to share. To me, the major benefit is accessibility.

1. Online texts can be manipulated for readability.
Students can easily manipulate the size of online text, convert text to speech, and create notes through copy and paste based on their needs. For more on creating accessible text in the classroom, see "An Educator's Guide to Making Textbooks Accessible and Usable for Students with Learning Disabilities."

2. Online texts are cost-effective.
These resources also eliminate the need for students to buy a required handbook. Textbook costs can be a major impediment to making a class fully accessible. 65% of students say they have opted not to purchase a textbook even knowing that it would hurt their grade ("High Textbook Prices Have College Students Struggling").

Textbook rentals are now available with services like and Amazon, making books cheaper, but then students don't have access to the information after the class ends. Like all writing instructors, I'm teaching things students will hopefully use again and again.

3. Online texts are updated regularly.
With OWLs, students have access to MLA format, writing handouts, and interactive activities. Unlike print versions, the information is free and continually up-to-date--important for a changing form like MLA citations. Please share any labs or resource pages I've missed in the comments section.

Online Writing Labs & Resources

Purdue OWL: The oldest and most famous of its kind, the Purdue OWL offers an excellent web version of the MLA handbook along with guides to the writing process. There are specific sections for writing in the disciplines, ESL, and job search writing.

The Writing Lab: Colorado State offers a course management system tooled specifically for the writing classroom with guides, activities, and teacher resources. In the 2000s I ran courses through their system, and it worked great.

Writing Commons: an open-source, peer-reviewed, online writing textbook

Excelsior College OWL: The feature that makes this lab unique is the writing process video game, Paper Capers. I haven't used it, but I know many folks integrate games into their classes.

Guide to Grammar & Writing: This lab provides extensive grammar instruction with online quizzes to test students knowledge and help them identify problem areas. Students can easily navigate the drop down boxes when a teacher assigns further study.

Silva Rhetoricae: This site breaks down key components of rhetoric such as appeals, canons, and audience and features a lengthy alphabetical list of rhetorical figures.

Hypergrammar: The University of Ottawa site offers a digital version of their grammar course. It moves from the basics of parts of speech to building phrases and sentences.

Strunk's Elements of Style
: I don't use this text in my courses, but I know others who do, so it's good to know that there is a free online version.

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