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 10, March, 2013

Hello Friends,

Like you, we are looking forward to spring break!  A good many of us are headed out of town to the AWP Conference and the CCCC; we hope to see you there.

This month we are happy to announce that Duke University has adopted Writing Commons for its new, Gates-Foundation funded, Composition MOOC (Massive Open Online Course). Duke's MOOC, English Composition I: Achieving Expertise, will teach students "to read critically, write effective arguments, understand the writing process, and craft powerful prose that meets readers’ expectations." Duke's pedagogy will focus on the nature of expertise itself, encouraging students to question and interact with the concepts of what it means to be an expert, what it means to succeed, and how success and expertise are achieved in the context of personal interests. With more than 47,000 students already enrolled in the course, we are thrilled at the opportunity to engage and enable so many writers. We would like to extend a special thank you to Dr. Denise Comer from Duke for helping make this partnership a reality. (Go Blue Devils!)

In this month's newsletter we explore:
  • Staff News
  • Writing Program Profile: Auburn University
  • Traffic Report
  • Social Media

Staff News

Writing Commons welcomes two new staff members, Jack Hennes (Web Assistant) and Jason Tham (Web Design and Advertisements). Joining us from St. Cloud State University in Minnesota, Jack and Jason are doing excellent work developing promotional materials, our web presence beyond our home-site, and our digital footprint. Jack and Jason are also helping us spread beyond the halls of the University of South Florida, where it all began, bringing with them invaluable alternative perspectives and ideas - the essence of crowd sourcing. Check out some of Jason's excellent work below, and Jack's work developing Writing CommonsWikipedia page.


WC Brochure-3-1

As a crowd-sourced project we rely on volunteer efforts. We especially seek a social media editor to help us develop our Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn pages. Please contact Zachary Dixon at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you are interested.


Writing Program Profile: Auburn University's Master of Technical and Professional Communication 

At Writing Commons we celebrate the diversity of writing pedagogies and styles that allow our discipline to carry out the challenging task of improving student writing, reasoning, and information literacy. As part of our celebration, "unCommon Newsprofiles writing programs from around the United States, and hopefully soon the world, so that we can share the ideas, practices, and strengths from members of our community of writers. This month we are pleased to present Auburn University's Master of Technical and Professional Communication program. Thank you very much to our supporter and friend, Jo Mackiewicz, for sharing with us. 

In Auburn's Master of Technical and Professional Communication (MTPC) program - the only one of its kind in Alabama - students learn the theory and practice of technical communication and prepare themselves for jobs as writers, editors, information analysts, web developers, proposal specialists, as well as other interesting and often well-paid positions. According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook, technical writers will continue to be in demand, and our graduates can do far more than write. Moreover, the MTPC program also prepares students for doctoral study in technical and professional communication. 

The MTPC require 30 semester hours of course work beyond the bachelor's degree (but note that the bachelor's degree does not have to be in English. Alternatively, those employed in business or industry may be interested in the Graduate Certificate in Technical Communication (GCTC). The GCTC requires 12 hours of graduate course work in technical communication. 

The MTPC or the GCTC provide students with opportunities to practice document design, writing, editing, and production techniques involving online and print media. Students have access to the department's usability lab for students - the IDEA Lab - and have opportunities to work on faculty research projects in the Lab for Usability, Communication, Interaction, and Accessibility (LUCIA). Courses meet in the late afternoon and late evening. A cadre of five full-time technical communication faculty with both academic and workplace experience teaches these classes: Dr. Jo Mackiewicz, Dr. Derek Ross, Dr. Steward Whittemeore, Dr. Chad Wickman, and Dr. Susan Youngblood. 

The MTPC program offers a variety of financial aid. Please see our website for more information: www.auburn.edu/mtpc. 

If you would like your writing program profiled in "unCommon News," please send a description to Zachary Dixon at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. We're particularly interested to hear and share how your program uses Writing Commons

The Traffic Report

February's traffic continued its upward momentum. Though a short month, we had over 70,000 visits which represents another new milestone for us. February 25th was our most popular day with a total of 3,622 visits. After the United States, the top-ten visiting countries were:

  1. Canada
  2. Philippines
  3. United Kingdom
  4. India
  5. Australia
  6. Germany
  7. Malaysia
  8. Pakistan
  9. Spain
  10. Singapore


For writers seeking readers Writing Commons provides exciting new opportunities: Not only can you write web-texts for underdeveloped aspects of the site, you can help us stretch the fabric of the textbook. By this we mean that we are open to publishing movies, podcasts, and other mixed media. Surprise us!

Social Media

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

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

And 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 an argument, again?" 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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