unCommon News (April 2015)
unCommon News (April, 2015)
A crowd-powered newsletter for a writing-centered community
Thank you for making Writing Commons such an unprecedented success. For March, we reached a new milestone in visitor traffic: 220,120 unique users visited 346,607 pages. Since 2012, when we moved to writingcommons.org from collegewriting.org, we've reached 2,689,124 original users who have held 3,184,887 sessions. We're so excited about reaching our first three million users!
This month, thanks to our ongoing partnership with KairosCast, we are pleased to announce Kyle Stedman's (Rockford University) seventh podcast for Plugs, Play, Pedagogy: Teaching with the Digital Archive of Literacy Narratives. Kyle's podcasts are humorous and insightful, really worth checking out. Listen on Writing Commons or subscribe on iTunes.
We also aspire to make this newsletter helpful to writing faculty. If you attend a conference or if you come across some research/scholarship that you believe a worldwide audience of writing faculty would find interesting, please let us know. We're eager to publish brief notes at unCommon News. Last month, I mentioned we are especially eager to publish faculty voices from beyond the U.S. To help achieve that goal, I'm presenting with colleagues at EATAW in Estonia and ProComm in Ireland, as well as attending NFEAP in Norway. If you're attending these conferences, please stop by so we can talk about some ideas for original webtexts. While our exponential growth in traffic is rewarding, we must continue to evolve if we are to accomplish our mission: to be the best textbook available for courses in introductory writing, professional and technical writing, creative nonfiction, and fiction. Just because we're free doesn't mean we can't be superior to texts that cannot be easily updated or deploy multimedia.
Looking for some interesting conferences to attend this summer, check out Computers & Writers, May 28-31; NFEAP, June 11-12; EATAW, June 15-17; ProComm, July 12-15; CWPA, July 12-19. A final reminder: This May, The winner of the Aaron Swartz Award will be announced at the Awards Banquet at the Computers & Writing 2015, 5/28 to 5/31/15, University of Wisconsin Stout.
Publisher, Writing Commons
We have several new webtexts to celebrate this month, the breadth of which illustrate the interdisciplinary nature of Writing Commons.
UW-Colleges, Editor-in-Chief, Writing Commons
|In “Audiovisual Presentations Made Easy(-ier): Tips for Creating an Effective PowerPoint, Prezi, or Keynote,” Jonathan Arnett provides practical advice for developing a presentation. Arnett walks through the use of contrast, repetition, alignment, proximity, color, typeface, audio, animation, and backgrounds. There is also helpful advice on body posture and efficient use of notes during a presentation. This presentation would be incredibly helpful in any presentation class.|
|Tamara Girardi interviews short fiction writer and assistant professor of English, Trent Hergenrader about his exciting new course developments, the connections between reading, writing, and multimedia analysis, the challenges he faces when writing, and his advice for beginning student writers. This interview would be beneficial in any creative writing class.|
In “Conducting a Spatial Analysis through the Lens of Universal Design,”Katherine Silvester, Kate Chaterdon, & Elizabeth Bentley propose “that UD is an applicable, conceptual framework for conducting spatial analyses in a first-year composition class.”
Silvestor, Chaterdon, & Bentley provide a definition of Universal Design, illustrate how one can analyze everyday structures to identify examples of ableism, and provide questions for students to apply these ideas to their own experiences and environment. This webtext would be helpful for any composition class or technical writing class.
|In “Setting in Short Stories,” Julie Nichols writes about how setting can enhance plot. Nichols discusses how just a few words, aptly placed, can invoke a place, a time, and a scene. She discusses how setting can be described via summary or scene and provides examples, including one from O’Henry’s “The Gift of the Magi.”|
Most Popular Articles at Writing Commons
Since the genesis of Writing Commons in 2008, we've published hundreds of online webtexts that have attracted broad readership. The table to the right displays the most frequented articles. Beginning with Using First Person in an Academic Essay: When is It Okay?, by Jenna Pack, note the succession of the next most popular article. The succession of topics follows the pattern of an actual written paper! First, users are interested in the ways they can hook their readers. Next, they employ rhetorical devices, such as pathos, ethos, logos, and even kairos, to further their argument. Lastly, it follows that users are interested in ways they can finish their writing piece with a compelling conclusion. Based on this table of data, it is clear that students and authors are using Writing Commons to improve their writing, critical thinking, and information literacy — precisely what this open-source website aims to do!
University of South Florida
Plugs, Play, Pedagogy Podcast
I invite you to listen to episode 7 of Plugs, Play, Pedagogy: Teaching with the Digital Archive of Literacy Narratives. In this episode, you’ll learn about the history of the DALN, which is, in their words, “a publicly available archive of personal literacy narratives in a variety of formats (text, video, audio) that together provide a historical record of the literacy practices and values of contributors.” Learn about the DALN’s history, some new and forthcoming publications about it, and lots of suggestions about how to use it to enhance your teaching!
Plugs, Play, Pedagogy Podcast
March experienced a steady increase in users as compared to last month. According to Google Analytics, 220,120 users held 248,079 sessions, reading 346,607 pages. As opposed to last month, where the female to male user ratio was in favor of male, this month experienced 64% of female users and only 36% of male users.
Invitation to Participate: Pilot My Reviewers
At the University of South Florida, we have been working on developing tools to improve the process of giving feedback on student papers, conducting peer reviews, managing group projects, facilitating eportfolio reviews, and assessing writing programs. This suite of tools, which we call MyR (My Reviewers), 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.
A document markup tool, an e-learning environment, a publication platform to for etexts, and an eportfolio tool, MyR provides tools, resources and workflows designed to help students, instructors, writing program administrators, institutions, and learning communities: https://myreviewers.com.
MyR enables instructors and students to markup texts using .pdf markup tools. Instructors/students can place more than 200 Community Comments (a library of comments constituting a complete English handbook in article/video/and exercise formats) on student papers. 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 spring 2009 and end of fall 2015 semester, approximately 500 instructors have used MyR 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.
To pilot MyR, register here: https://myreviewers.com/start/.
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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