A Review of Virgil

By January 27, 2011Writing about Writing

A few days ago, the online resource ‘Virgil’ was brought to my attention. This helpful writing tool was developed by the University of Texas’ Writing Center, Undergraduate Writing Center. This morning, I had the opportunity to play around with the many features that Virgil offers, and was very impressed with the helpful guidance the website gives.

The homepage introduces you to Virgil, a writer who bears a striking resemblance to Harry Potter, and gives you helpful links depending on what sort of assignment that you are working on. The current options are ‘Handouts’ (for guides on APA/MLA format, poetry, rhetorical analysis papers, etc.), ‘Application Essays or Personal Statements’, and ‘Cover Letters, CV’s, and Resumes.’ Below, Virgil promises that other options are currently being developed.

Because I wanted to find out more about Virgil’s beginnings, I investigated their ‘About’ tab. Apparently, Virgil has been in the making since 2000, when a student wanted other University of Texas students to have the ability to receive help with their written work without having to come in to their Undergraduate Writing Center. From what I can tell, Virgil replaces our IM/Webcam appointments.

Overall, Virgil is a very helpful resource to students who want guidance about their written work from home. I found the sources that they have posted extremely helpful, and the tips that they post about written work all run along the lines of what we suggest during face to face appointments. What I found especially beneficial about Virgil, is the ‘Panic’ button. This is geared towards students who have an upcoming due date and feel lost about where to go next. The ‘Panic’ option allows for carefully written, step-by-step process of forming a paper. It was detailed without being overwhelming and intimidating. I think that any stressed out student would find this helpful towards meeting their deadlines with a well-written paper.

While I enjoyed investigating Virgil, and think that their Panic button, and ‘Handout’ links are brilliant and helpful, I feel that this sort of website lacks what IM/Webcam appointments fufills. While they have allowed for many different assignments within their provided links, I still believe that being personally involved with writers is more helpful towards giving them appropriate, detailed feedback.

I would advise everyone to check out Virgil’s website at: http://projects.uwc.utexas.edu/virgil/?/=home



Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • natdesjardins says:

    I totally agree. While this is an awesome resource, but as more of a supplement rather than a replacement for the online appointment model.
    Still, used in conjunction with a writing tutor, this is a great resource!

  • kmstoffel says:

    The handout feature is definitely excellent. I think that seems to aim more toward people who have quick questions though. I would really be interested in how this is generated. Is it all pages depending on where you click or are there more customed responses to a writer’s questions?