The digital writing café - accessibility born from necessity




The Writing Café is a creative space for students to talk about academic writing across disciplines, and to support them to become better writers, underpinned by the philosophy of inclusion and inquiry.

Originally located in a café on campus, in response to the pandemic, the Writing Café transitioned online considering the additional struggles that students might be experiencing as a result of the pandemic. Within days, it had moved online with no interruption of service.

Attendance in the Digital Writing Café increased by 50% during lockdown, and the service was highlighted by the Gravity Assist report as one of the most innovative examples of how universities and colleges have responded to the pandemic by providing online support to their students.

Due to the successes, the Digital Café now runs concurrently alongside The Writing Café in the Library providing a flexible service to meet the varying needs of the students.

Though the Writing Café has always been a space that helps bridge the gap in supporting social mobility, this new flexible approach has seen a drastic increase in engagement from students who identify as from Access and Participation Plan (APP) categories.

The presentation explored the evolution of the Writing Café to the new hybrid dual delivery model, with provision located physically at the heart of the campus in our Library café, alongside an online digital provision using zoom. Our Writing Mentors will share their experience and will discuss the impact on our student engagement.

Author Biographies

Nina Kearney, University of Plymouth

Nina Kearney is a Project Manager at the University of Plymouth, with experience in leading Widening Participation and Peer Learning initiatives.

Cara Baer, University of Plymouth

Cara Baer is a lecturer in Education, researcher, and PhD student with interests in inclusion, social justice, access to education, and Widening Participation. Cara has worked as Writing Mentor throughout her studies, enabling insight into the peer interactions.

Michaela Moclair, University of Plymouth

Michaela Moclair is a PhD student in Creative Writing, whose research focuses on Greek mythology and posthuman feminism. Michaela has a keen interest in positive partnerships founded from peer-to-peer learning and has experienced this during her work at The Writing Café.

Jack Pendlebury, University of Plymouth

Jack Pendlebury is an MEng Robotics student with a focus on machine learning and artificial intelligence. He hopes to apply research in Learning Development to artificial intelligence applications within robotics. He has worked in the Writing Café throughout his time at university, enabling him a first-hand look at peer learning and alternative learning methodologies.




How to Cite

Kearney, N., Baer, C., Moclair, M. and Pendlebury, J. (2022) “The digital writing café - accessibility born from necessity ”, Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education, (25). doi: 10.47408/jldhe.vi25.976.