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unCommon News

A crowd-powered newsletter for a writing-centered community

July/August, 2013

Dear Friends, 

We hope you've had a terrific summer!  

To help you get in the groove for the fall semester, we've shared a note below from Kay Halasek regarding her experience using Writing Commons as the primary required text for The Ohio State University's MOOC, Writing II: Rhetorical Composition.  We thank Kay and her colleagues at Ohio State for using Writing Commons and for helping us better achieve our mission—helping students worldwide receive free access to a quality, peer-reviewed, academic writing textbook.  

As you can see from The Traffic Report, readership continues its upward trend.  Amazingly, over 500,000 visitors have accessed Writing Commons since January.  We remain hopeful that you'll consider using Writing Commons as the required textbook for your classes, whether you're teaching composition, argument, or technical and professional writing.  

We are delighted to announce three new webtexts have made it through the peer-review process.  Please see below to learn more about these original webtexts and about how your work can potentially reach thousands of readers.   See our Call for Papers for submission guidelines. 

If you're assigning Writing Commons as the required textbook for your classes, please share with us your user stories.  We'd like to add to the Duke, Georgia Tech, and OSU syllabi to help teachers see how Writing Commons works for a broad range of college-level courses.

Best wishes as you prepare for the Fall Semester!

Joe Moxley, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Executive Editor and Publisher

The Ohio State University MOOC & Writing Commons

When four of my colleagues and I received the news in November 2012 that our application for a grant to support development of a writing MOOC had been successful, we realized immediately the implication:  We had to create a course.  And offer it by the end of June 2013.  Thankfully, we didn’t fully grasp the enormity of the task and simply began the work of creating the ten-week “Writing II: Rhetorical Composing” course that then ran from late April through June 2013.  Integral to the course as it developed over our four-month planning period was Writing Commons, which ultimately stood as the primary online resource for students.  Familiar to us from our own classroom-based teaching, we turned to Writing Commons because it provided to us and the participants in Writing II engaging and theoretically-informed materials that aligned with our goals of creating and delivering a course that focused on the rhetorical nature of writing, reading, viewing, and research.   

The participants were enthusiastic in their praise of Writing Commons.  One participant, Herbert, noted that the materials from Writing Commons were “very helpful throughout the several weeks. There was a very nice balance between reading, video and interactive materials. . . .  I found the linked materials at Writing Commons to be most helpful in my career as Technical Writer.” Mary’s comments spoke, as well, of a personal connection to and value of Writing Commons as early as Week 1, in this case as she commented on her reflective essay in a forum subtitled “On Rites of Induction”: “As I scanned Week’s one [sic] provisions of supporting materials. [sic] A hyperlink in the Writing Commons caught my eye—a video by Simon Sinek produced in 2010 titled Golden Circle on TED Talks.”  Mary goes on to explain Sinek’s arguments “that successful leaders and thinkers communicate from the inside out” and then the impact of his insights on her as a writer:  

With Sinek's video, I realized that the weeds of reception-anxiety and writer-ability worries outgrew and outnumbered my inner concept as a writer; they hindered my belief in being a writer by bullying me, pushing at me and crushing my writers’ identity. For me, his video opened a window of understanding. I saw that inner purpose and beliefs--not outcome or product--shape and empower the writer I am. My weak belief in myself as a writer resulted in an uneasy feeling and the coldness that filled my hands.

These sorts of testimonial epiphanies were not unusual in Writing II—and collectively they stand as one of the most rewarding outcomes of the course for us as instructors.  These weren’t writers who just read the material because it was required but because they found it valuable to them and their interests as writers.  We encountered posts like Mary’s numerous times each day from dozens of participants from around the world who were engaging the materials in our course and Writing Commons to a degree that both stunned and thrilled us—reminding us of the transformative power of knowledge and learning in a community of writers in the MOOC, which Deborah called a “Souk,” that “huge City centre or a souk (better because it rhymes) where everyone is busy going about their day and trying to get by, to make connections, to score points and you must decide whether to stroll along or hurry, where to stop to inspect more closely what is on offer, how much of your precious life-time to spend on close reading and offering comment.” 

Kay Halasek
Associate Professor
The Ohio State University 

The Traffic Report

Writing Commons was popular summer reading for students worldwide. In May, we helped 80,361 visitors; in June, we had 81,816 visitors. Compared to the previous year in May and June, we had 151,808 more visitors in these two months. 

June 2013

Recent Publications

We have three new original webtexts to celebrate:
  • "Your PowerPoint Presentation: Developing an Effective Design" by Mary-Lynn Chambers, Elizabeth City State University.  In this webtext, Chambers illustrates how to captivate audiences with a visually appealing and rhetorically effective PowerPoint presentation.

  • "Audience Analysis in Formal Reports" by Angela Eward-Mangione and Katherine McGee, University of South Florida.  In this webtext, authors Mangione and McGee describe in-depth how to construct formal reports with easy to read bulleted lists and representive images to aid in instruction.

  • "Synthesizing Your Research Findings" by Christine Photinos, National University. In this webtext, Photinos expands on what writers do once they've collected their research and they're ready to describe how their argument fits within an ongoing scholarly conversation.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions regarding ideas for original webtexts. 

Quentin Vieregge, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Managing Editor


Call for Papers

Teachers, please share with us your expertise.  You can find the most up-to-date submission information and Call for Papers (CFPs) at our Contribute page. We seek new and interesting webtexts to expand the breadth and depth of what we can offer our global community of writers.

Our past CFPs have focused on academic arguments, information literacy, professional and technical writing and creative writing

Thanks to our global readership, you can potentially help thousands of students every day.  

Social Media

Visit us at Facebook page. View newsfeeds regarding Writing Commons and updates about the greater Open Education Resource community.

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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