PWR Online 2020-21

Due to concerns over the spread of COVID-19 and the risks the spread poses to the Stanford community, PWR classes will be offered exclusively online for the 2020-21 academic year.  Whether you’re on campus or off, you’ll be taking PWR in an online format.  Read on to learn how this affects your experience in PWR.

PWR's Commitment to Students in times of disruption

Members of the PWR teaching community have been working together since last March to adapt our curriculum and teaching practices to the online teaching environment.  We maintain our commitment to building a strong, supportive classroom community in every PWR class as well as to providing individualized instruction and feedback to every student enrolled in PWR.  We know that remote learning carries with it many challenges to students and instructors alike.  We will be sensitive to these challenges, and to whatever additional challenges the new academic year brings, while striving to deliver to every PWR student a rich, engaging experience with writing and research.

Course Format for online PWR

PWR courses focus on rhetorical analysis of readings and texts in a range of media, research practices, and the essential roles of drafting and revising in the writing process and drafting, rehearsing, and revising in the presentation process.  As a 4-unit required course, PWR aims to engage students in this work for 110 minutes, twice a week, emphasizing student-centered active learning.  As the university has changed class meeting patterns in response to online learning and instruction, PWR class meetings will be 80 minutes twice a week in academic year 2020-21; PWR instructors will plan these class sessions to maximize active learning and interaction with classmates, so you can expect to balance real-time (synchronous) learning activities during class time with up to 60 minutes a week of at-your-own-pace (asynchronous) learning using carefully-designed activities and modules that build on synchronous class time and help you make progress on your PWR assignments.  This structure will be consistent across all PWR classes, though not all PWR instructors will use class time in exactly the same way. 

To summarize, PWR classes “meets” in two different modes for a total of 110 minutes of learning, twice a week, to fulfill the Writing-1 requirement:

  • Synchronously, during your scheduled class time in “real-time” in a Zoom class meeting together, featuring interactive, collaborative work as a community of researchers and writers (80 minutes of learning twice a week)
  • Asynchronously in between real-time class meetings through work-at-your-own-pace activities using platforms such as Canvas, Stanford Box, etc..  In general, this work is considered separate from the time students spend drafting their essays or presentations (30 minutes of learning twice a week)

PWR instructors design both the synchronous and asynchronous activities to allow you to engage with the practice of writing, analysis, and research in a variety of ways, such as through annotation activities, freewriting, mind-mapping, discussion boards, collaborative writing, and feedback activities on classmates’ drafts or video presentations. 

Your Quarter Preferences

Since you’ll be taking PWR online, you can take PWR any quarter that you’re taking classes (as long as there is room in that quarter), whether you’re on campus or not. However, given that classes are being offered over all four quarters, we realize that you may want to change either the quarter preferences that you submitted through Approaching Stanford (first-year students) or your assigned PWR 2 quarter (second-year students).  Please note that you can take PWR during your flex quarter, if you'd like.

Go to to confirm the quarter in which you’re assigned to take PWR 1 or PWR 2.  If you have a significant scheduling conflict with that quarter, you can petition to change your quarter through the link. Be sure to provide a detailed explanation of why you need this change.  We will do our best to accommodate your request. Please note that the primary reason we would be unable to accommodate a request would be lack of room in a given quarter. 

Your section preferences

We’ve adjusted our section preference cycle for winter quarter PWR 1 and PWR 2 to accommodate the Registrar’s new schedule.  Below are the new relevant dates for winter students to submit their section preferences:

  • Monday, November 16: Winter PWR 1 and PWR 2 students receive an email from inviting them to rank their top seven preferences from among the PWR sections
  • Monday, December 7, 5:00 pm PDT: Deadline for submitting preferences for fall PWR 1 and PWR 2 closes
  • Tuesday, December 8: Fall PWR 1 and PWR 2 students receive an email from with their section assignments

For Further Information

Want to learn more about the PWR online experience? Read the recent Stanford Report article that spotlights four of our PWR lecturers and their work with their students in Spring 2020. 

For more enrollment information, see Enrollment Dates and Deadlines page, View or Petition to Change Quarter, Submit PWR Section Preferences.

If you have further questions, please reach out to us at