A free, comprehensive, peer-reviewed, award-winning Open Text for students and faculty in college-level courses that require writing and research.


unCommon News

 A crowd-powered newsletter for a writing-centered community.

 Issue 2, June, 2012

Hello friends, 

It has been an extremely busy few months here at Writing Commons. After presenting Writing Commons to an enthusiastic and incredibly progressive group at the OER OCW 12 Cambridge conference, and after hearing about the futures of computational linguistics at EACL 2012 Avignon conference, we have a reinvigorated sense of meaning and purpose about the value of Open Education Resources. 

We also have an incredible amount of excitement about the growth and possiblities of our own open text. So far in May alone we have logged over 2,000 individual users accessing Writing Commons. In addition to a great homepage face-lift, we are also very excited about the recent addition of the "Common Space" section of our open text. "Common Space" serves as an interactive portal through which users can view helpful writing blogs generated by our staff, comment on those blogs, and post their questions to be answered by staff and other users alike. We are also enormously proud to announce the addition of "Common Comments", a reservoir of helpful editing comments distilled from the intructor feedback on 26,000 pieces of student writing which represents a promising tool for proof-reading and editing writing.

In this issue we will explore:

  • The Value of Sharing
  • Call for Papers
  • Recent Publications
  • Social Media

Sharing is Caring: The Value of Sharing Educational Resources

Have you ever heard the primary school saying, "sharing is caring"? That sharing is a good thing to do seems so simple. Sharing helps those that receive what is shared by allowing them to access critical ideas, things, and other forms of capital that they may not normally have access to. Sharing helps those that give by exercising their compassion and empathy, reconnecting them to the joy of participating in a humane world.

As educators we are particularly attuned to the value of sharing. We share our specialized knowledge, and experiences with our colleagues and students daily. But, for the most part, we do so within the structure of the traditional academic reward system: for compliments at conferences, vitae lines, for tenure, for money. Sadly, sharing solely for the benefit of those who receive our information-capital is a reason that tends to get pushed to the bottom of the pile; perhaps because, until recently, there were few alternative venues for sharing academically.

But now, with the incredible boom of Information Communication Technologies, the digital domain represents a valuable, powerful, and legitimate portal for academic sharing. Open Education Resources (OERs), placed freely in the "digital-everywhere", are informal approaches to academic sharing that embody a progressive and democratic ethos that could produce amazingly beneficial results. Already, academic institutions and law-makers are beginning to recognize the value, and potential, of OERs to harness Web 2.0 technologies into organizing and sharing invaluable knowledge with a needing and wanting global public. What could be more amazing than sharing expert knowledge with the entire planet, regardless of location or wealth?

Later this month (June 2012), UNESCO will host the World OER Congress at Paris at which they will finalize an official OER Declaration aimed at its global members (draft is available online) in which they encourage governments to embrace the funding, development, and implementation of OERs at a national level. Laudable as these efforts are, we should not forget our individual onus to create and share academic materials, of which OERs are the bold new frontier. 

If, as educators, we wish to see the successful growth and implementation of OERs in ways that truly embrace the open and democratic ethos that they promise then we must create and share a lot more of ourselves into the foundation of the OER future: our passions, our know-how, expertise, even our questions. 

Do not be afraid of putting yourself our there in the "digital-everywhere" and sharing your gifts; in fact, at Writing Commons we challenge you that it is your duty to do so. Even if you reach only one individual that you may not have reached without an OER, EVER, we think that you have made a worthy contribution. Many individuals working together as a collective, networked and connected, this is how change is made through what Martin Weller calls "longtail economics". Even with governmental and institutional support, only through the combined effort of many individuals can OERs become the valuable and truly progressive educational tools they might be. 

We here at Writing Commons not only reaffirm our commitment to the development, maintenance, and sharing of Open Education Resources, but we challenge you to participate and share freely and openly. We believe that sharing our educational resource - our web-text - in a free digital environment represents not simply a good thing to do, but the right thing to do as educators. You may have the knowledge and expertise that could change a life, maybe thousands - even millions! Besides, if you don't someone else will. And do you really trust them to do the teaching for you?


Call for Papers

As an organic, digital, recursive text, we are interested in receiving new and interesting articles and chapters to expand the breadth and depth of what we can offer our global community of writers.

While we welcome submissions covering all aspects of writing, we are currently seeking chapters that focus on our Style Handbook, as well as Professional and Technical Writing.

You can find the most up-to-date submission information and Calls For Papers at our Contribute page.


Recent Publications

We are pleased to announce the recent addition of a new and exciting chapter to our digital text:

Eir-Anne Edgar's "Connecting Source Material to Claims"

Dr. Amanda Wray's "What to Think about When Writing for a Partiruclar Audience"

Jenna Pack's "Using First Person in an Academic Essay: When is it Okay?"

Social Media

 Keep up with Writing Commons using your favorite social networking sites.

Writing Commons has its own Facebook site, where we keep our status and postings relevant to the latest site information, as well as news about the greater Open Education Resource community.

Writing Commons is also available on Twitter using @writingcommons and #writitingcommons. Writing Commons' tweets consist of parodying students' most common writing questions, such as: "What's a paragraph supposed to have?" and "What's an argument again?". Each tweet is hyper-linked to our Writing Commons blog, where Writing Commons staff members provide succinct, accessible answers and a helpful example. The Writing Commons blog functions as a commons of its own, where other writers, of all levels of expertise, can contribute alternative answers and subsequent questions. We ultimately envision this interactive space functioning like a "virtual-teacher" where students can contribute unique writing questions, and receive answers by Writing Commons staff in real-time.