unCommon News (August 2016)
unCommon News (August 2016)
A crowd-powered newsletter for a writing-centered community
I hope this past year has been fantastic for you, full of creative moments in the classroom and keyboard.
Since August/September 2015, the last time we sent out an unCommon News, 1,585,789 people have visited Writing Commons (a free textbook for writers), which represents a 1.21% increase in readership over twelve months. We attribute this slow growth to our security problems last December and January. After re-building Writing Commons so that it has more rigorous security, traffic has been fairly steady. In total, since we launched Writing Commons, 5,177,699 unique visitors, 6,062,288 total visitors, have downloaded 11,239,987 pages. Our readership remains quite global: this month 44% of all users were from outside the United States. Remarkably, about 9% of our readers were from the Philippines. After that, the most popular countries were Canada, India, United Kingdom, Australia, Malaysia, Germany, Japan, and Russia.
We are hopeful you will enjoy our new site design. In addition to updating our security software, we wrote to our authors and requested updated bios. We have also added a hit counter to each article and worked to improve navigation. While publishing work in a textbook may not be as academically prestigious as publishing in an academic journal, it does carry some weight when you can show its impact and demonstrate it was peer reviewed. Plus, you can take some personal satisfaction in helping students get through school without additional debt.
Please keep Writing Commons in mind as you plan your fall courses. Chances are we have the content you need to support your students and your assignments. Note, we remain free and suitable for adoption as the required textbook for composition, technical writing, and professional writing courses. If you already have a textbook for your class, let your students know that Writing Commons is a great supplementary source. It is especially useful when they need quick, easy electronic access to a question.
We ask that you consider writing original webtexts for us. Our mission is to be the best possible textbook available for courses in composition, technical, business, professional, creative, and scientific writing. Our reviewers are kind and professional. We don't leave you hanging for months. Plus, when you write for us, you'll have the opportunity to reach a large audience. For example, Jennifer Pack's Using First Person in an Academic Essay: When is It Okay? has been downloaded 178,404 times.
Best regards, Joe Moxley, Founder.
Since our last newsletter, we have published some excellent new webtexts! Our thanks to our peer reviewers for their help.
- Anna Lee's Effective Use of Powerpoint in Professional/Technical Presentations explores common pitfalls in Powerpoint and encourages the audience to consider presentation purpose and audience.
- Angela Eward-Mangione's Rhetorical Appeals: An Overview and Rhetorical Appeals: A Checklist identify four rhetorical appeals and guide the student through their use.
- J.M. Paquette's Works Cited Page Checklist shows students common Works Cited page formatting concerns and how to fix them.
- J.M. Paquette's MLA Updates for 8th Edition interprets MLA's new changes.
- Brian Rapp's Writing Concisely and Avoiding Redundancy shows students how to simplify their writing.
- Madelyn Tucker Pawlowski and Antonnet Johnson's Creating Rhetorically Effective Instruction Manuals will be useful for technical writing courses.
We hope you enjoy our new publications, and we invite you to submit original materials to us. We are happy to work with you.
Sincerely, Quentin Vieregge, Editor-in-Chief, and Daniel Richards, Senior Editor, Professional and Technical Writing
My Reviewers & the 4th International Conference on Writing Analytics, Data Mining, and Student Success.
At the University of South Florida, we are working on My Reviewers, a suite of digital tools to help writers and instructors improve feedback, peer review, team projects, and writing program assessment. From the fall 2011 to the spring of 2016, students have used My Reviewers to complete 253,148 peer reviews and instructors have completed 174,366 reviews.
Now that we have over a billion words of student essays and instructor and peer comments, we are working to figure out ways to analyze all of that data to make evidence-based curriculum changes and better support student success. With partners around the U.S. and Europe, we are engaged in a variety of research projects. We invite you join us in our efforts to use digital tools to map the writing construct. For instance, thanks to support from the National Science Foundation, we are currently working to research students' peer-review practices in STEM disciplines on five U.S. campuses. If you've ever wondered about the efficacy of peer review in composition courses, check out our most recent article in WPA: Writing Program Administration, which compares 46,689 reviews of students' intermediate essays performed by students and instructors. Recently, realizing we need help from our colleagues in Math, Computer Science, and Linguistics, we held a day-long workshop on Writing Analytics at Educational Data Mining, an international conference: Workshop Proceedings.
We invite you to join us at the University of South Florida on its St. Petersburg campus, 1/12 and 1/13/17, for our fourth academic conference on big data and writing studies. As the poster notes below, we have arranged for distinguished writing program administrators and corpus linguists to brainstorm with us about the future of digital writing tools. See Tools for Writers for guidelines for submitting your own proposal for a conference paper or poster. Submissions will be considered for publication in the Journal of Writing Analytics, which we will be publishing thanks to support from Colorado State University Open Press. Note this is Martin Luther King weekend, so you can extend your stay to visit the beach. While I cannot guarantee 80 degree weather and blue skies, chances are it will be a perfect weekend.
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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