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unCommon News

A crowd-powered newsletter for a writing-centered community

September, 2013

Dear Friends, 

Welcome back to school!  Here at Writing Commons, we're hoping Fall 2013 will greet you with motivated, talented students; a renewed sense of academic purpose; and funding for your academic fieldwork.

In this month's newsletter, Denise Comer shares her reflections on how Duke's MOOC students used Writing Commons, exploring the implications of teaching on the global stage.  We thank Denise and Duke University for giving us this opportunity to reach a global audience—to help students who otherwise might not have access to quality educational materials.  

This month, I'm personally thrilled that we're publishing M.C. Morgan's most recent webtext on wikis, "Getting Started Writing on a Wiki."  Like Writing Commons, this piece has deep historical roots, stretching back to 2004 when Mike, Matt Barton, and I first spoke on wikis at CCCC.  For over a decade, Mike has been very creative about his wiki work with students, and I think you'll find his piece both practical and theoretically interesting. 

As shown in this month's traffic report below, our readership continues to grow at an exponential rate: in August alone, 161,172 visitors downloaded 692,633 pages, resulting in 3,328,318 hits.  Isn't that astonishing!

Our global audience provides exciting opportunities for writers. Now you can share your pedagogical materials beyond the constraints of your classroom.  Lately we've had a rush of submissions, yet we strive for a faster turnaround time compared traditional academic journals.  To submit webtexts at Writing Commons, see contribute. 

We remain eager to hear from you about your use of Writing CommonsPlease leave us a note to let us know how we can better meet your students' needs.

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


Reflections: Duke University MOOC & Writing Commons

“Hi everyone. I am S--- from Pakistan. I love English and love to write as well. I have joined this course to improve my writing skills.”

“I am teaching English (as a second language) at a Gymnasium in Braunschweig, Germany.  I became interested in MOOCs and began researching for possible courses that my 11th grade students (seven years of English instruction) might be capable of managing.”

One of my primary aims in teaching English Composition I: Achieving Expertise (March 18, 2013-June 10, 2013) was to facilitate intercultural conversations about writing between people across the world. Over 82,000 people enrolled in the MOOC, which was offered through Coursera, in partnership with Duke University, and was largely funded with a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. According to pre-course survey results, approximately 77% of those enrolled indicated that English was not their first language, and approximately 80% lived outside the United States in such countries as India, Brazil, Spain, and China, as well as many others.

Partnering with Writing Commons provided our community of global learners with the opportunity to examine carefully constructed and helpful open-access resources for academic writing in English. Forum posts about Writing Commons indicated that learners especially appreciated resources that teach argument development and citation styles.

As we move forward teaching writing in this highly international context, one key area will be continuing to make explicit the degree to which these resources do or do not reflect U.S. academic writing expectations, conventions, and practices. We anticipate launching a second iteration in April 2014—one I anticipate will be just as global—and I am eager to partner again with Writing Commons and continue creating space for learners around the world to have conversations about writing, to grow as writers, and to reflect on how writing can make a difference in their lives. 

Dr. Denise K. Comer
Director, First-Year Writing
Duke University 


Wanted: Teammates 

Calling All Team-Players!

The growth here at Writing Commons is unprecedented in size and scope, and we are excited about the opportunities that lie ahead to develop new resources, to update old resources, to reach new audiences, and to innovate new pedagogies that speak to an intenational audience. But in order to accomplish our goals we need more teammates. 

We are particularly interested in technologically-minded teammates who can help us develop and improve the tools that can help us grow as a resource. If you are handy with Joomla, coding, multi-media, or any other web skill we need your help!


The Traffic Report

We were surprised and delighted this last week of the month to notice a new high point in terms of usage of Writing Commons: In the last six days of August, as students were returning to school, we had over 9,904 visitors a day!  For the month we averaged 5199 users a day.  Our final total number of visitors for August was 161,172! 



Recent Publications

This month, we have one new original webtext to celebrate:

M.C. Morgan is a professor of English at Bemidji State University. In the following webtext, "Getting Started Writing a Wiki," Morgan explains how writers can work in teams to continually revise and publish a working wiki text. Morgan walks through how WikiWords can link pages together, how the dialogic process of writing on ThreadMode can evolve into more polished DocumentMode writing, via refactoring, and how headings and lists can organize information. He also discusses how wikis with a single author can benefit from these techniques.


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.

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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