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. 


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