University of Minnesota
student writing support
center for writing
writing.umn.edu


Student Writing Support.Center for Writing's home page.

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SWS is closed for summer break. We will reopen on Tuesday, September 7.

Two options for SWS consultations in spring semester 2021: SWS-Zoom and SWS.online

Due to COVID-19, all SWS consultations are now offered remotely, with two options: SWS-Zoom consultations and SWS.online consultations. We have many appointments available at a variety of start times, and we're happy to help you make one at our virtual front desk! You can also go to mySWS to make an appointment on your own.

For either of these options, this UMN Wifi Coverage Map could be useful if you are on campus.

Make an SWS-Zoom consultation appointment

To make an SWS-Zoom appointment, follow the instructions on our Face-to-face Appointments in Zoom webpage.

Make an SWS.online appointment

To make an SWS.online appointment, follow the instructions on our SWS.online webpage.

What are the differences between Zoom and SWS.online consultations?

Zoom and SWS.online consultations will both allow you to work on your writing with SWS consultants. However, there are several differences in how these two modes work. Depending on what your writing project is and what your goals are for the consultation, you may find that one mode fits your needs better than the other.

What is a Zoom consultation like?
A Zoom consultation is most similar to a regular, face-to-face consultation. You’ll be able to meet with a consultant over video and audio stream. If you like, you can share your screen with the consultant during the session so that they can see your document as you work. You can also chat with your consultant through the Zoom chat feature. Additionally, you can ask your consultant to use Zoom’s auto-transcription feature for closed captioning—if it is enabled, a live transcript of your conversation will appear at the bottom of the Zoom video.

For a Zoom consultation, you don’t need to have anything written, and you don’t need to upload anything ahead of time. (At the beginning of the appointment, you may share your Google Doc or PDF with your consultant at the email address the Zoom invitation was sent from.) However, this also means that your consultant will not be familiar with your writing or your goals for the consultation, so a portion of the consultation will likely be devoted to learning more about your writing and your goals.

What is a Zoom consultation best for?
A Zoom consultation may be a better choice if you’re just getting started on your project and don’t have anything written yet, if you’re interested in brainstorming more at any point in the writing process, or if you’d rather have the option to collaborate via audio and video instead of just text. Because you can screen-share in a Zoom consultation, this mode may also be a better choice if you want to talk about formatting or other visual elements of your written text. See below for a more thorough explanation of SWS.online consultations.

What is an SWS.online consultation like?
For an SWS.online consultation, you reserve a 40-minute appointment time and are provided with a blank Google Doc that you can access through mySWS. A couple of hours ahead of that appointment time, you must enter your writing in the Google Doc so that the consultant will have time to read it before your appointment. At your appointment time, you meet with the consultant in Google Docs and discuss your writing through the document and the Google Docs chat feature.

SWS.online consultations are text only; while your consultant will give you feedback, answer questions, and collaborate with you through the Google Docs chat, there is no audio or video component. When you meet with your consultant for an SWS.online consultation, the consultant has already read your writing and any background information that you provided. You’re able to jump right into discussing your writing and learning more about your consultant’s feedback.

What is an SWS.online consultation best for?
SWS.online may be a better option if you already have some writing done or are in the later stages of the writing process, or if you prefer to work through writing/typing rather than audio/video. SWS.online consultations sometimes have the added benefit of helping you write more during your consultation: since the chat with the consultant involves explaining your ideas through writing, it can generate more useful material for you to incorporate in your writing project. For example, you might find that you write the perfect topic sentence in your chat with the consultant, and since you can download the chat transcript after your appointment, you can then save that writing and copy/paste it into your paper.

Zoom is often a better option for brainstorming or getting help with understanding the expectations of an assignment or a writing prompt, or for anyone who prefers to collaborate via audio or video.