Our rationales for technology in physical writing spaces and the creation of virtual writing spaces should begin with the desire to educate students and writing supports as effectively as possible. Creating an inclusive online writing space is neither easier nor more difficult than designing an inclusive physical space; the challenges are different, but the questions we must ask ourselves are similar.
Scholars have found that students sometimes assume an online course will be easier than a traditional course (Eaton, 2005; Maeroff, 2003; Rubens & Southard, 2005). Knowing this perception exists, we must ensure our writing spaces are not less rigorous or less pedagogically sound than their physical counterparts. In fact, it could be argued that we must create superior online composition classrooms.
Virtual spaces often provide convenient access to students with challenges navigating physical spaces. If online writing spaces come to be seen as primary methods of accommodation, we risk virtual spaces becoming “separate but equal” classrooms and labs for students perceived as different. We must avoid the segregation of students, however unintentional. Inclusive instructional and support spaces must improve upon traditional writing spaces. Our campuses have served young adults, often from a narrow section of the general population. Virtual spaces might attract a broader range of learners, reflecting a diversity of experiences missing from the most traditional classrooms and writing centers. Not only are our institutions serving a broader population of “college-aged” students, but we are also serving more non-traditional students who find virtual classrooms and supports more convenient (Eaton, 2005). To provide the ideal inclusive experience, we must attract “traditional” students to virtual writing spaces where they will gain new insights alongside non-traditional students and those from historically marginalized communities.