Complete Courses

PART A. Complete Writing Courses

Annotated links to websites recommended for complete courses on academic writing

Links 5, 6 often cited but not recommended


1. Wollongong Unilearning (Aus)
Best site for all aspects but you have to be willing to work hard! More info


2. Hong Kong Polytechnic (Virtual Language Centre)
Good basic, practical help by example More info


3. Paradigm Online Writing Assistant (US)
very thorough, dependable More info

4. Capital Community College (USA)
Often cited but not recommended as course More info

5. Purdue University (USA)
Often cited but only Workshops recommended for instruction More info

1. Wollongong Unilearning

Best site for all aspects

Structure - 5/8 units on academic writing with focus on essay and report genres.

1.Effective Writing 2.Report Writing 3.Essay Writing 4.Sentence Structure 5.Academic Writing (6.Critical Writing) N.B. No unit on Paragraphs but good work on this in all units.

Content - theoretical knowledge is very high quality

Appearance - all information is attractive, clear, well laid out

Instruction - very good though not much fun. Advantages: lots of good and bad models from different disciplines, long examples with teacher comments, and most useful is that every section has interactive tasks with correction and feedback. Problems: sometimes texts so long and serious it may be hard to keep concentrating.

Design - interactive though sometimes bit boring and navigation is reasonable

Helpful Hint - Unit 1 Effective Writing might seem too hard as an introductory unit. Maybe better to do it after Essay Writing unit as it is a global view and so covers a lot.

Full text Source Material Paragraphs Academic style Grammar
Only 2 genres

Very good Essay Writing unit.

Also 5 types of Report Writing.

Basic work in Effective writing

Advanced work in Academic Writing,
Essay Writing, Report Writing.

Basic work in EffectiveWriting. More instruction and good tasks in Essay Writing.

More Cohesion instruction than any other site.

All features in AcademicWriting.

More work on analytical style may be in new Critical Writing unit soon out.

All advanced and some basic grammar well covered in Academic Writing.

Basics well covered in Sentence Structure unit.

2. Hong Kong Polytechnic (Virtual Language Centre)

Good practical help by example

Structure - 9 stage academic writing course advertised as introductory only.

Content - seems theoretically sound but not systematic or wholistic.

Appearance - relatively attractive, clear, though very dense and print based layout, so not very interesting.

Design - interactive in comments and analysis of models and also in tasks. Last section is interactive quizzes for all stages. Easy navigation inside site and also
hyperlinks throughout to resources outside website.

Instruction - unusual because it is done mostly through comments and analysis of models, not presentation and explanation. So special attraction is lots of examples and models of sections of, and whole, mostly arts essays – all with useful
drop down comments on many aspects of writing from words and phrases to paragraphs and whole essay structure.

Helpful hint - don't be tempted to plagiarise examples! Keep in mind though they're helpful for all students, the target audience is Hong Kong students so topics are biased towards their needs.

Full text Paragraph Academic style Source material Grammar
No range of genres – focus on essay only. Structure just main stages of introduction, body and conclusion. Most of the sections focus on paragraph level. Models include different types(analysis, argument) Comments include structure, and cohesion. Impersonal and tentative in Tone(modality)
Analytical - advanced grammar in Style (nominalisation)
Evidenceincludes paraphrase not summarise Scattered throughout - no section just on this

Advanced grammar in Style

3. Paradigm Online Writing Assistant

Introductory only - basic general information about writing.

Structure - 10 topics/modules includes non-academic writing. Only one of 3 units on essays is really useful 7. Thesis/Support Essay

Content - theoretically sound, but quite general, basic and U.S. focus.

Apppearance - attractive though quite 'busy' layout. All words, no pictures, not much colour but clear headings and quotes.

Design - not interactive but broken down into short, very clear and easy to manage pages within units – not too long or complex so internal links are okay.

Instruction - is sound, clear, with little technicality in language and so it's easy to understand. It offers easy but thorough foundation for academic writing in any English speaking country, even though aimed at U.S.1st year student. Every topic has practice exercises, not interactive but mostly relevant and interesting tasks.

Helpful Hint - Only you have time for easy reading and enjoyable general tasks - it's quite good fun.

4. Capital Community College (USA)
Often cited but not recommended

Structure - Huge! 6 modules: 3 modules on grammar or sentence level. Only relevant ones for you are 2. Paragraph Level 3. Essay and Research Paper Level (particularly last two parts: Structural Considerations and Patterns of Organisation).

Content - focus on literary academic language very detailed but some irrelevant information and some important omissions e.g. work on paragraph organization not sufficient

Appearance - minimal but good use of colour, layout design, illustrations and movement, all presented clearly.

Instruction - mostly information and simple, clear, straightforward explanations. The teacher talk is in a friendly, communicative spoken style which works well on-line. Examples and models all from literary texts. Exercises are fun too but not sufficient - very interactive but often focussed on testing
word, sentence level knowledge rather than writing skills.

Design - not very interactive, but engaging and easily navigated - all information in clearly identified topics with clear links.

Helpful hint - only visit if you have spare time and want literary examples or lots of word/grammar exercises.

5. Purdue University (USA)
Often cited but only Workshops recommended for instruction

Structure - 4 main modules: 1. Online Writing Lab 2. Handouts 3. Workshops and Research 4. Internet Resources. Only 3. is really relevant for you. 1,2,4 give information only and focus on U.S. undergraduate composition writing.

Content - Even in the best units on Writing a Research Paper and Report (in Workshops and Research) only good theoretically on text and paragraph structure but not on academic style, cohesion or advanced grammar.

Appearance - Workshops are more attractive than Handouts but all site is clear, print style format only.

Design - Navigation good with internal and external links but some links take you off OWL, some take you nowhere.

Instruction - Mostly traditional teaching style of explanations with no interactive tasks and not many models. Not too technical but .. it is idiomatic using a spoken, flowery style which maybe difficult for nesbs.

Helpful Hint - Handouts may be useful starting point if you want to print out brief clear basic information on most aspects of academic writing information. Only useful part of Online Writing Lab is FAQs which take you to Handouts.