unCommon News (July 2015)
unCommon News (July, 2015)
A crowd-powered newsletter for a writing-centered community
For June, Writing Commons is pleased to announce the publication of two original webtexts for our technical writing and new media departments. We thank Kyle Stedman (Rockland College) for his fifth original podcast for writing faculty, which we co-sponsor with Kairos. If you haven't listened to one of Kyle's podcasts for writing faculty, I strongly encourage you to do so: he has a gift for being witty, insightful, and very funny. This month we are pleased to welcome students enrolled in Duke University's English Composition I: Achieving Expertise, which is led a third time by Denise Comer. Congratulations to Denise and her team for reaching over 260,000 people. As a leading open-education resource, Writing Commons aspires to be a free, global resource for students, whether they are enrolled in traditional colleges and universities or experimental MOOCs.
During June, with hopes of inspiring original webtexts from faculty outside the United States, I attended EATAW (European Association for the Teaching of Writing ) in Tallinn, Estonia. The program featured a range of presentations on theory and research related to Writing Studies, and you can access the presentation abstracts online.
At EATAW, several colleagues mentioned they enjoyed reading unCommon News yet they were unaware of Writing Commons. To clarify, Writing Commons is an open education resource for writing instructors, which provides free access to over a thousand original webtexts on academic, professional, technical, and creative writing. You can adopt Writing Commons for your courses that require academic writing as opposed to assigning expensive textbooks. In turn, the goal of unCommon News is to announce the original webtexts we publish, to celebrate the contributions of our authors via the Aaron Swartz Award, to announce pertinent academic conferences, and to help share information of interest to writing faculty. In all fairness and transparency, however, I should admit that I sneak in a comment or two from time-to-time about My Reviewers, which is an effort to re-invent tools for writers and explore the evolution of big data for Writing Studies.
We ask that you consider publishing your pedagogical insights at Writing Commons. Please contact Quentin Vieregge, Editor-in-Chief, to discuss webtext ideas. If you wish, we can prepare your documents in digital format. See Contribute for more details on our peer-review processes. One huge advantage to publishing at Writing Commons is that your work can benefit students globally. During the first half of this year, Writing Commons' traffic experienced 1,117,684 unique visitors that read 1,847,231 pages.
Publisher, Writing Commons
In the “The Art of the Pick-Up: Wooing Your Future Employer in the Cover Letter,” Erin Trauth explains how to transform a cover letter from just listing one’s accomplishments to connecting those accomplishments with the organization’s culture and needs. She provides specific examples of how to do this, and then gives multiple detailed descriptions how applicants can research an organization that goes beyond simple internet searches.
In an exciting addition to the New Media section, Cassandra Branham and Danielle Farrar bring us a new piece titled "Digital Footprints: Public Writing and Social Identities." Branham and Farrar explore the concept of "digital identity" and emphasize the importance of learning how to negotiate multiple identities for multiple audiences using multiple social media applications and platforms. From there, they give some helpful advice on how to best approach the cultivating of effective online identity formation through abiding basic principles of public writing etiquette.
Plugs, Play, Pedagogy Podcast
|In Episode 9 of the Plugs, Play, Pedagogy podcast, I explore tons of ways to use podcasting in the classroom. We hear from Faith Kurtyka’s successful experiment with podcasting social justice issues (including clips from 2 of her students!), an assignment from Jennifer Bowie about having students podcast as a way to review course material, and a review of podcasting scholarship from Ryan Trauman. Listen up, and share your own ideas with me on Twitter (@kstedman) using the #plugsplay hashtag.
English Composition I: Achieving Expertise (EC), a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) designed and facilitated by a team led by Denise Comer (Duke University) and offered through Duke University and Coursera, has just embarked on its fourth iteration. Running June 26-August 27, 2015, EC offers learners the opportunity to draft and revise, with feedback from their peers, three major writing projects on an area of inquiry of their choice. We are delighted once again to be referring EC learners to the excellent materials in Writing Commons. The 51,000+ learners who have thus far enrolled in this fourth iteration brings the total number of EC enrollees since 2013 to over 260,000 people. Demographic data on those currently enrolled reaffirm the ways in which this writing MOOC creates a global space for writers from many different backgrounds. The data also remain relatively consistent with demographic data from the three earlier iterations. According to the pre-course survey (N=~3500), 60% of enrollees are female, 40% male. Learners hale from and reside in over 100 countries from around the world, with the largest populations of learners joining EC from Brazil (7%), China (7%), India (8%), and the United States (23%). 63% of learners have either a Bachelor’s or Master’s Degree, and 51% are employed full time. 77% specify that English is not their first language, but of these people, most say they are adept at English: 20% Fluent; 36% Proficient; 40% Intermediate; 5% Beginner. For 27% of the learners, this will be their first online course ever. Such a wide range of learners reaffirms the importance of using global and transfer-based perspectives to develop open educational resources such as EC and Writing Commons.
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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