Writing Commons October Update

Thanks to Aaron Barlow, Faculty Editor, and Academe  for publishing this account of the early history of Writing Commons:

Since this essay was printed, Writing Commons has continued to evolve. During September, traffic at Writing Commons hit new highs: over 194,870 users—i.e., 6495 visitors/day—visited 577,902 pages.  Overall, the server logged 5,553,512 hits. It’s amazing to us that in the last two months we had about 360,000 visitors.  We feel fortunate to be providing a free yet valued service to the open-education community.

Writing Commons_Sept_2013

In response to the September newsletter, I received a note from a reader who questioned whether our goal of being a global resource for writers suggests we seek to colonize Writing Studies, to presume that the U.S. model is the ideal model:

It is rather astonishing that even educators in the more dominant social and educational cultures don’t realize that even economically weak and sociopolitically less advanced communities around the world also have their own languages and communicative practices, their own unique conventions and needs for writing, their own local educational cultures, distinctive norms and values about what counts as knowledge, and unique standards and local expectations about how to write “well” (as they also have their own spiritual traditions in place).

In response, I acknowledge that this is a valid critique. By sharing our pedagogical resources we impose at some level our view of the pedagogy. Thanks to theorists such as James Berlin, Paulo Freire, Lisa Delpit, or Henry Giroux, the discipline of Writing Studies is cognizant of the inherently ideological aspects of rhetoric.  However, I’d like to clarify our vision for Writing Commons: while we do seek to be a global, open-education home for writers, we do not wish to impose a single vision for writing pedagogy.  As rhetoricians and compositionists, we embrace linguistic and pedagogical diversity.  We aspire to celebrate and research context-based writing processes, genres, and methodologies.One way we hope to recognize diverse approaches to teaching writing is by publishing webtexts by faculty and writers in different countries/cultures.  Admittedly, nearly 100% of our webtexts are written by U.S. faculty and about 85% of our readers are tagged with U.S. IP addresses.  In the future, however, as the affordance of Internet technologies and access to these technologies enable us to talk with one another about our pedagogical goals and contexts, we are hopeful faculty from across the world will share their practices, research efforts, and theoretical approaches.

Another way to explore our diverse teaching contexts is to publish alternative syllabi.  At the top navigational bar for Writing Commons (see Adoptions), we publish the syllabi of our users. Currently, our listing includes USF, Duke, Georgia Tech, and Ohio State.  Plus, to show how Writing Commons can be used beyond first-year composition courses, Sundus Alsharif has provided a syllabus for teaching Public Speaking. If you assign Writing Commons for your classes, we hope you’ll share your syllabi.
A third way to celebrate diversity is to publish award-winning student texts by institution.  We’ve had discussions with several U.S. writing program administrators about publishing award-winning student texts. As a result, we’d like to add a “My Campus” tab that would enable users to view award winners by institution/country/state. Wouldn’t it be useful to refute the doom and gloom about student writing by publishing some great works?  Please let us know if you’d like to participate in this endeavor.
Lastly, I’m happy to report that our overall readership continued to grow during September, with over 194,870 visitors during September 2013.  Thank you for your ongoing support.

A Note from One of Our Review Editors

I have served as a review editor for Writing Commons for over a year and have enjoyed watching the website and articles take shape. The individuals involved in this project have been working tirelessly to develop the content and participation, and I believe in the necessity of this open-access material.

I have encouraged my students to use Writing Commons and have heard positive responses in the depth, breadth, and ease of access of the information. If my students like it and it helps them develop their writing skills, then it is most certainly a worthwhile cause to me. This semester I have challenged my upper-level composition students to develop an article for publication on the Writing Commons website and many expressed delight at the opportunity to become part of the learning tool that helped them. I look forward to working with my students to build their articles and hopefully I can provide a positive review of this process in a future newsletter. It’s never too late to get involved! #GoScholarGo

Dr. Abigail G. Scheg, Elizabeth City State University

Recent Publications

This month, we have two original webtexts to celebrate:

  • “Diplomacy, Tone, and Emphasis in Business Writing” by Jessica McCaughey, George Washington UniversityIn this webtext, Jessica McCaughey mentions several strategies for how to write a professional e-mail. The author describes ten different strategies for achieving the right tone.  With each strategy she provides examples to illuminate her advice. The webtext closes with an activity students can complete in class or take home and work on.  Certainly, writing professional e-mails is a crucial activity many students need help with, both within the college setting and in their jobs; this webtext provides a useful guide to help them compose professional e-mails. 
  • “Creating Scienftic Posters” by Candice Welhausen, The University of Delaware

In this webtext, Candice Welhausen walks through the standard conventions and characteristics for composing scientific posters. She describes the common venues in which they are displayed, how to organize a poster in IMRaD format, the different expectations of expert and non-expert audiences, and quick tips about such considerations as spacing, color, and readibility of different fonts. Her multimedia text invovles instructional videos and an actual student poster, as an example. This webtext would be enormously helpful in a technical communication course.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions regarding ideas for original webtexts.

Quentin Vieregge, quentin@writingcommons.org
Managing Editor

Call for Papers

Teachers, please share with us your expertise.  You can find the most up-to-date submission information and Call for Papers (CFPs) at our Contribute page. We seek new and interesting webtexts to expand the breadth and depth of what we can offer our global community of writers. Our past CFPs have focused on information literacyprofessional and technical writing, and creative writing.

2 thoughts on “Writing Commons October Update

  1. Is something wrong with Writingcommons.org? I have used it frequently with my classes; however, now it is blocked due to a “threat.” I have tried different computers with different protection levels, but cannot access.

Your comments are welcome. They must be relevant to the topic at hand and must not contain advertisements, degrade others, or violate laws or considerations of privacy. We encourage the use of your real name, but do not prohibit pseudonyms as long as you don’t impersonate a real person.