UnCommon News (March 2014)
A crowd-powered newsletter for a writing-centered community
March is a particularly exciting month for OER enthusiasts: March 10-15 is Open Education Week!
The roots of the modern day open-education movement can be traced to the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights, December 10, 1948. After World War II, United Nations General Assembly world leaders gathered and agreed that education is a universal right: “Everyone has the right to education." Even so, fifty years later, as suggested by Figure 1, access to higher education remains a struggle for some students and parents outside of North America and Europe (see http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0018/001832/183219e.pdf).
While U.S. and European students, in general, have excellent access to higher education, the academic reward system still privileges publications that tend to be guarded by paywalls. In its 2012 survey of 5261 U.S. faculty, Ithaka S+R found that U.S. faculty are chiefly concerned with impact and reaching disciplinary experts, preferring older publication channels to newer ones. Figure 2 illustrates a declining concern for ensuring publications are accessible more globally.
Here at Writing Commons, we realize we're not a traditional publication. Still, with a rigorous peer-review process and a monthly daily average of approximately 2600 users/day for February, we do address the impact factor.
Let's celebrate Open Education Week by sharing Writing Commons with your colleagues and students. Working together, we can provide the global resources aspiring writers need to find fluency and voice.
Executive Editor and Publisher
Professor of English, University of South Florida
Attending CCCC 2014?
Please join us at CCCC on 3/20/14, 12:15 p.m. We are reporting on our experiences serving as the required textbook for three composition MOOCs: Composition MOOCs and Pedagogy by the Thousands: Reflections on Four Open Education Innovations (1698161).
This month we are pleased to announce the publication of Sarah Pittock’s webtext, “Why Meet with a Writing Tutor”. In this webtext, Sarah summarizes the reasons why students should take advantage of tutoring services that their universities or colleges may offer. She explains that tutors educate rather than proofread, encourages students to set the agenda for the tutorial rather than relying on the tutor, and offers several key suggestions for how students can make the most of a tutorial. This webtext would be excellent for anyone who needs to explain exactly what a writing tutorial is all about, why universities support them, and how students can benefit from them.
Sarah teaches in the Writing Program at Stanford University and holds the position of Associate Director of the Hume Center for Writing and Speaking. Her current research covers the representation and practice of eighteenth-century women’s rhetorical education.
Past traffic reports have used access figures from our Go Daddy server account. Beginning January 2014, however, we will use access figures from Google's analytics. Please note that Google's analytics report about 25% fewer visitors than Go Daddy's. In other words, the frequency account below until January 2014 was based on Go Daddy's analytics, but going forward our visitor count will be based on Google's analytics; plus, we will distinguish between unique and total users.
Here are Writing Commons, we offer you the possibility to reach a broad audience. Last month we shared with you a note from Jenna Pack, a doctoral student at the University of Arizona, whose essay on using the first-person has now reached over 40,000 users. Below is a list of some of the more popular webtexts at Writing Commons.
Call for Papers for Technical Communication
Writing Commons is looking to expand and populate its Professional and Technical Writing resources for students. We are looking for contributions that highlight the “best practices” for writers in a given field or area of expertise. While the CFP focuses on the best practices for composing traditional genres in the field (e.g., memos, posters, instructions, manuals), Writing Commons is always open to considering contributions that shed light onto the more complex technologies and spaces technical communicators engage with and occupy respectively, while still being grounded enough and content-appropriate for lower- or upper-level undergraduate classes in the field. The site affords authors the opportunity to integrate videos, images, audio clips, HTML embedding, and/or social media sharing into their work. Here is just one example of the types of articles Writing Commons seeks.
Dan Richards (dprichar@odu), Editor, Technical Communications
Invitation to Participate: Use My Reviewers for free during the Spring 2014 Semester
At the University of South Florida, we have been working on developing new social tools to improve the process of giving feedback on student papers, conducting peer reviews, and assessing writing programs.
Since 2009, approximately 300 teachers and 20,000 students have assessed approximately 160,000 essays. Last semester, Malmö University (Sweden) was the first university beyond USF to pilot the software. Currently, in addition to Malmö, students from UPENN, the University of Arizona, and a half-dozen other institutions are piloting the software.
We have also conducted a variety of research studies regarding ways My Reviewers can enable instructors and administrators to make real-time, evidence-based curriculum changes, to mentor new instructors, to coordinate a variety of distributed assessment approaches, and to prepare accreditation reports
To learn more about My Reviewers or to pilot the tool, see: http://myreviewers.com.
Visit us at our Facebook page. View newsfeeds regarding Writing Commons and updates about open education.
Don't forget to connect with Writing Commons on Twitter using @writingcommons and #writingcommons. Writing Commons' tweets consist of answers to students' most common writing questions, such as "What's a paragraph supposed to have?" and "What's Rogerian argument?" Each tweet is hyperlinked to our Writing Commons blog where Writing Commons staff members provide succinct, accessible answers and helpful examples.
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