unCommon News (August & September 2015)
unCommon News (August & September, 2015)
A crowd-powered newsletter for a writing-centered community
Hope your transition back to teaching was a smooth one.
Have you ever wondered if all the talk about learning analytics and gamification is all hype? Well, here at Writing Commons, the free, open-education resource for writers, we experienced first-hand the motivational benefits of analytics: Throughout July and August, our Google Analytics malfunctioned. Without the daily indication of visitor traffic, we lacked that sense of the reader over our shoulder. Without the Analytics Dashboard flashing with visitors and information about their countries and reading paths, we drifted away to other obligations. And, to be totally blunt, as a volunteer organization, we face challenges. Over a year ago, we lost our Chief Technology Officer and since then we have struggled to maintain the site.
At ProComm 2015 in Ireland this past summer, Sandy Branham (UCF) and I brainstormed with Helen Grady (Mercer University) and others who attended our session on Writing Commons. The consensus of our conversation was that we needed to secure funding to support efforts to support our authors and grow the site. After running this project as a solely volunteer effort, a celebration of peer production, and after personally paying operating costs, I've reluctantly decided that I want to try ads again to generate some operating revenue. Nearly two years ago, we did try ads and we had zero complaints, but I took them down because I just didn't like them. Well, I need to try the ads again, and I hope they don't bother you too much. We will make sure we set the metatags so the ads are related to writing pedagogy.
Each month at Writing Commons, we are eager to peer-review original webtexts that could help students in a variety of writing courses. With hopes of attracting submissions from colleagues in professional and technical writing, I'm heading out the door this morning to attend the Conference of the Council for Programs in Technical and Scientific Communication (CPTSC). If you're looking for some interesting conferences to attend this academic year, perhaps the following list may be of interest:
April 6-9, Houston, Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC), http://www.ncte.org/cccc/conv
April 25-29, University of Edinburgh, The 6th International Learning Analytics and Knowledge Conference, http://lak16.solaresearch.org/.
May 31-June 3, New Orleans, Association for Institutional Research (AIR) Forum, https://www.airweb.org/EducationAndEvents/AnnualConference/Pages/default.aspx
June 1-4, Banff, Canada, Framing the Future of Writing Assessment: An Inaugural International Forum Proposal to Social Science and Humanities Research Council
June 6-8, Edinburgh, Scotland, The Association for Authentic, Experiential and Evidence-Based Learning (AAEEBL) Conference, http://www.aaeebl.org/events/event_details.asp?id=654245
June 23-26, Ann Arbor, MI, Writing Across Difference Conference, https://iwac2016.org/.
June 27-29, Plymouth University, The Writing Development in Higher Education (WDHE)
June 29-July 2, Raleigh, NC, The 9th International Conference on Education Data Mining, http://educationaldatamining.org/EDM2016/
July 2-6. Liverpool (Hope University), Sig Writing Conference, http://www.hope.ac.uk/sigwriting2016/
July 9-10, Lodz, Poland, European Writing Centers Association (EWCA), http://www.writingcenters.eu/
July 10-17, Raleigh, NC, Council of Writing Program Administrators (CWPA) Conference, http://wpacouncil.org/wpa-conference
Publisher, Writing Commons
In "Writing Concisely and Avoiding Redundancy," Brian Rapp explains some of the common mistakes writers make that lead to wordiness. He discusses redundancies and unnecessary use of adverbs and then provides specific examples for how to employ greater concision in one's writing. Rapp teaches at the University of Central Florida. His research interests include composition, film theory and criticism, media theory, and communications studies.
|The STEM/Technical Writing part of the site welcomes a new addition, "Creating Rhetorically Effective Instruction Manuals," written by
Madelyn Tucker Pawlowski and Antonnet Johnson, both at the University of Arizona. It complements the existing pieces on instructional documentation but goes deeper into the granular aspects of instruction writing (e.g., proximity, color) that need to be attended to when creating texts that help an audience complete a specific technical task.
As illustrated below, we have no idea about our accurate traffic count for July, August, and some of September, which deeply saddens us given we were eager to reach the two-million mark for users this year. Oh well, we do have good news: now that the analytics have been fixed, we see we have about 9,000 users a day so, maybe there's still hope for reaching that two-million milestone for 2015. Fingers crossed! Please consider writing original webtexts for us and save your students money: adopt Writing Commons for your courses on composition, professional and technical writing, creative nonfiction, and creative writing.
Plugs, Play, Pedagogy Podcast
|In episode 11 of Plugs, Play, Pedagogy, I explore the split between composition studies and creative writing. The conversation centers around the recent edited collection Creative Composition: Inspiration and Techniques for Writing Instruction: in an interview, co-editor Danita Berg and I discuss the intersections between the fields, and then three of the contributors to the volume share perspectives on essaying (as a verb), the nature of success for writers, and the uses of grammar. As always, you can listen on Writing Commons or download straight from iTunes or Stitcher.
Invitation to Participate: Pilot My Reviewers
A comprehensive suite of tools, My Reviewers is
an e-learning environment
document-markup tools and workflows that facilitate peer review and team projects
an eportfolio system
an assessment tool to expedite accreditation reports
a publication platform for etexts (We can load your etexts and collect revenue as well as provide access to five etexts.)
- a research project for universities to research student success, pedagogy, the development and transfer of writing competencies; intrapersonal, interpersonal, and cognitive competencies, and usability design.
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.
The My Reviewers team is pleased to announce that in collaboration with Val Ross (UPENN), Suzanne Lane (MIT), Christiane Donahue (Dartmouth), Chris Anson (North Carolina State University), and Joe Moxley (USF), we have been funded by the National Science Foundation to research students' peer-review practices in STEM disciplines.
To learn more about My Reviewers, we invite you to visit http://myreviewers.com/why-myreviewers/
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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