Understanding the development of students' competence in writing poses significant challenges, given the complexity of the writing process, the skill levels of students, the types of writing activities offered to students, and the volume of data concerning writing as a whole. While language is taught from elementary school up to university courses and even beyond, the pattern of learning a language has remained much the same for decades. This proposal advocates that distributed social environments may provide a new paradigm for students to learn the discipline. Students need not be confined to just classrooms; they can engage in authentic learning in real-world or virtual-world scenarios. Further, whether real or virtual, the writing software itself can assume a proactive role in supporting not only the students but also the instructor. We emphasize the need for ubiquitous, situated, mixed-initiative writing support for students where underlying technology platforms can be extended to measure individual competencies, identify writing competency-gaps, and promote means to address these gaps. This proposal discusses several ideas, including peer feedback, collaborative writing, book annotation, integrated instructor interfaces for grading, and the effects of mixed-initiative, immersive, social and agent-oriented assessment on writing competence.