unCommon News (May 2015)
unCommon News (May, 2015)
A crowd-powered newsletter for a writing-centered community
I hope your summer is getting off to a good start, that you're enjoying a much deserved break from grading papers, and that you have some vacation time ahead. At Writing Commons, we hope you will set some time aside to share your expertise with our global audience of writing instructors and students. You can find our guidelines for authors and calls for papers at Contribute. We are interested in a range of topics, anything that would help students in introductory composition, professional and technical writing, and creative writing courses. Our review editors will quickly peer-review your submission, and our copy editors can help you prepare your submission for the web.
During April, we welcomed 222,062 unique readers who visited 374,016 pages. This represented a 103% increase in users since last April. Interestingly, we had a 626% increase in visitors from Kenya yet 62% fewer visitors from China. Not surprising, 52% of our readers are 18 to 24 years old and 22% are 25 to 34. After the U.S., the top countries of origin were Canada, United Kingdom, India, Australia, Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Kenya, Pakistan.
This month we are pleased to publish a new webtext for our Business Writing students and a second webtext most likely of interest to students across the disciplines—a webtext on pronouns and antecedents. Happily, Kyle Stedman has published another engaging podcast: 8th episode of Plugs, Play, Pedagogy. Below Mary Jane Curry reflects on the value of publishing in peer-review spaces such as Writing Commons. We look forward to seeing you at Computers and Writing, 5/28 to 5/31, where Quentin Vieregge, Editor-in-Chief, will be announcing the Aaron Swartz Award for 2014 at the Awards Ceremony.
Publisher, Writing Commons
The Business Writing section welcomes a new, foundational piece to its collection: Usability and User Experience Research. Written by experienced usability researcher and practitioner Guiseppe Getto out of East Carolina University, this webtext provides a sound introduction not only to the field of user experience (UX) design but moreover to the main concepts undergirding its variegated practices, which rely on a complex series of research methods. This piece is great for readers unfamiliar with the topic of usability who are looking for an overview of its practices and reliable resources to get started.
We also welcome a new webtext by Christopher Justice, whose text, Pronouns and Antecedents offers an introduction to a key grammatical lesson. Through accessible language, Justice explains the purpose of pronouns and their relationship to antecedents. He also explains pronoun case and pronoun agreement. Justice's essay would work well as a beginning primer into pronouns in any composition, literature, or technical writing class.
Plugs, Play, Pedagogy Podcast
| In the 8th episode of Plugs, Play, Pedagogy, you’ll get to know what makes writing and rhetoric scholars tick. At a huge conference, I asked people what they cared about—that’s it. They told me about accessibility, relationships, games, connections to other fields, and more. Get to know the amazing variety of fish in our disciplinary tank by listening in!
Writing for "free" in the academic marketplace
Joe Moxley suggests, “the academic tradition of writing for free” a form of service, as Joe Moxley contemplated in February. I argue that academics are paid to write. We write syllabi, course materials, reports, textbooks, reviews, creative texts, and research publications. Writing in new genres (blog posts, wikis, tweets) may not be as highly valued (yet) but is increasingly viewed as part of academics’ writing repertoire. Workers in the academy gain social/cultural capital by publishing, acknowledged as the “currency” of academia. Those evaluating job applications and tenure cases are, unfortunately, often in a position of quantifying publications. And very little research is published by “independent” scholars, who have difficulty accessing the needed resources.
Research that Theresa Lillis and I have done on academic publishing since 2001 has empirically documented pressures and rewards on multilingual scholars to publish in English as well as the needed (and lacking) resources to do so—but these exchange dynamics certainly exist in well-resourced locations like the United States. In Lillis and Curry (2010), we explore the idea of academic knowledge exchange as a gift economy, but as more of an idealist hope than a picture of the current reality—unfortunately.
Lillis, T., & Curry, M.J. (2010). Academic writing in a global context: The politics and practices of publishing in English. London: Routledge.
Mary Jane Curry
Warner Graduate School of Education, University of Rochester
Invitation to Participate: Pilot My Reviewers
We invite you to join an international team of writing faculty to help us develop a new generation of tools for writers. You can pilot a course or even an entire writing program at http://myreviewers.com/start.
My Reviewers <http://myreviewers.com>, aims to improve students’ writing, critical thinking, and collaborative competencies by
- helping instructors and students provide more useful, explicit feedback on student writing
- facilitating peer-reviews and team-projects
- enabling instructors and writing program administrators to make evidence-based curriculum changes
- identifying and subsequently supporting students at risk, thereby advancing retention
My Reviewers enables instructors and students to markup texts using .pdf markup tools. Instructors and students can place Community Comments (a library of comments constituting a complete English handbook in article/video/and exercise formats) on student papers. Subsequently, students can select the hyperlink to view an article or a video about a comment and check their comprehension. Faculty can set up peer reviews and team projects, and the system aggregates sticky comments, Community Comments, rubric scores, and rubric comments on one page, enabling users at a glance to compare comments across reviewers. Administrators can assign multiple faculty to review documents and download statistics regarding inter-rater reliability in spreadsheets. Faculty, students, and administrators can consult onboard learning analytics that identify patterns across drafts, projects, sections, and courses.
Between the spring 2009 and end of the fall 2015 semesters, approximately 500 instructors have used My Reviewers to provide 115,118 reviews of documents,using an assortment of rubrics, Community Comments, and sticky notes. In turn, students have conducted 118,919 peer reviews and posted 5,962 revision plans.
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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