Introducing the Online Writing Centers (OWC) Email Discussion List

sarah_princeToday’s post comes courtesy of Dr. Sarah Prince, of Walden University. Together with Beth Nastachowski, MA, Dr. Prince is starting a new discussion group–the OWC email discussion list. Today’s post is about the OWC–stay tuned for part two, coming next week, about best practices for online centers!

The idea for the listserv grew out of a SIG we presented at the 2015 IWCA conference titled “Refocusing the Conversation: Creating Spaces for Online Writing Center Community, Support, and Discussion.” After talking through possibilities for community building during the SIG, many ideas were on the table—an annual conference and/or a possible affiliation group within IWCA (much like the current regional affiliations rooted in specific geographic locations). Post conference, to follow up with these ideas, we sent out a survey to all who attended the conference and others at the conference who signed up to receive more information. Based on the group’s voting, it was decided that we would initially start with a listserv, or discussion list, to promote communication about what centers are doing and how we could all better serve students in a fully-online capacity.

Please join us today at the Online Writing Centers (OWC) email discussion list!

We hope that this listserv does in fact start as a building block that generates wider conversations about the state of current online writing centers, common issues among fully online centers, and possibilities for future collaboration among these centers. We would love to see our group gain the support and membership to work toward a separate affiliation under IWCA one day or even create an academic conference around issues specific to tutoring writing in a virtual environment.

We are advocating for further conversations among staff and tutors that serve students online, so we can, as a group, come up with best practices. Because such a community is still in its infancy, perhaps a better discussion would be how we’ve come to the practices that work for our center– through trial and error, gaps we perceived in our services, ideas for conveying information about writing in new ways, etc. In other words, we can talk about how we have a lot of this stuff, in part, because we don’t really have many discipline-wide best practices and, consequently, we’ve had to experiment. Our guess is that other centers are in the same boat, so we’d like to really advocate for a space where important discussions on innovation and new technologies can take place.

Continue reading “Introducing the Online Writing Centers (OWC) Email Discussion List”

#IWCWeek tagboard

Editor’s Note: We’ve really enjoyed looking at all of your social media posts from International Writing Centers Week!  To see what other writing centers were up to, take a look at this tagboard of the #IWCWeek hashtag. If you’re interested in seeing even more posts, #IWCW16 is another great hashtag to check out on Twitter.

Transforming Towards Peace and Justice

Laura_Greenfield-gridEditor’s note: Dr. Laura Greenfield is the founding Director of the Transformative Speaking Program at Hampshire College, where she is a Faculty Associate of Communication and Education in the School of Critical Social Inquiry. I asked her to share with us about Hampshire College’s Transformative Speaking Program and their first “Conference on Communication Centers for Peace and Justice.”

I work at a really cool school—cool in the sense that the people are pretty great, but also cool in the sense that it does a remarkably good job at creating conditions for radical social change. Like any institution it still has a lot of work to do, but its unusual history has been a fruitful context in which to pursue my own radically-oriented work. Several years ago, inspired by my work with writing centers, I founded a speaking program as an experiment to push the boundaries of the discipline but also to speak back to writing center work in ways that will hopefully shake things up for the better. As a part of that work I created a new conference this past fall. I want to invite you to join us in the future—but first, a bit of context:

An Experimental College

pic-1-libraryHampshire College is an unconventional small private liberal arts school in western Massachusetts. A group of visionaries from nearby Amherst College, Mount Holyoke College, Smith College, and the University of Massachusetts-Amherst founded the school only four decades ago as a radical experiment in higher education. These leaders wanted to push the boundaries of their liberal education ideals otherwise limited by their existing institutional structures. This new school boldly instituted narrative evaluation in place of any letter grades, self-designed concentrations in place of any predetermined majors, large interdisciplinary schools in place of traditional single-subject academic departments, and pay equity and contracts in place of the tenure system, among other strategies. The school recently garnered national attention for happily getting kicked off the U.S. News and World Report’s rankings lists by refusing to accept standardized test scores in its admissions process. Seeking to be an explicitly anti-racist institution, Hampshire was the first in the U.S. to divest from South Africa during Apartheid and this past year officially agreed to change its policies to exclude investment in private prisons also in response to persistent demands by student activists.

In other words, Hampshire’s counter-cultural leanings, expressed commitments to social justice, and beat-of-one’s-own-drum ethos was not just my personal dream place to work/teach/learn but also the ideal place for a writing center enthusiast such as myself to try something different…

An Experimental Program

pic-2-program-peopleIn fall 2013, an alumn and trustee gave a gift to the college to fund a series of public speaking workshops for students in response to the observed disconnect between the students’ extraordinary ideas and their less-extraordinary oral communication skills. After leading a series of such workshops, I proposed a multi-year pilot plan for launching a sustainable speaking program. The proposal was met with enthusiasm, donors funded its launch, and my visiting faculty position was eventually converted to a regular position with the assumption that the program was here to stay.

pic-3-student-staffComparable to our writing center cousins, the Transformative Speaking Program (TSP) is home to a vibrant staff of undergraduate peer mentors who work with students in speaking-intensive courses and in a drop-in center in the library, in addition to hosting workshops and faculty pedagogy support across the disciplines. Unlike many writing centers that focus exclusively on student development, the TSP sees its work not only to make individual “better writers” (or in our context “better speakers”) but in fact to be transformative change-makers in the institution and beyond, particularly in resistance to systems of oppression including racism, sexism, imperialism, and so on. The scope of our mission is comprehensive and collective: to promote radical dialogue to change the world.

Continue reading “Transforming Towards Peace and Justice”

2015 Peer Tutor Day: Tutors around the Globe

Nijmegen 1Friday July 10th and Saturday July 11th, Radboud University Nijmegen, the Netherlands

The Nijmegen Centre for Academic Writing would like to invite tutors working at writing centres all over the world for an EWCA peer tutor event this summer. Last year, our tutors were very inspired by the exchange with international colleagues at the EWCA Peer Tutor Day in Frankfurt/Oder. Unfortunately, no Peer Tutor Day was planned for this summer, which would mean that many of our tutors would not have the opportunity to meet with other (foreign) colleagues to exchange ideas. That is why we decided to host the 2015 Peer Tutor Day in Nijmegen!

Continue reading “2015 Peer Tutor Day: Tutors around the Globe”

#WCLinkUp: The Long Night Against Procrastination Across Germany Revisited

With this blog post I want to highlight some of the events of The Long Night Against Procrastination Across Germany.  When browsing Twitter with hashtag #lndah, I came across a tweet by Dennis Fassing, who mixed tweets, posters and images with his own commentary in a stori-fy compilation. Although the texts are in German, I think that readers from around the globe will appreciate the many faces and forms this event took on this year on or around March 5, 2015.

Continue reading “#WCLinkUp: The Long Night Against Procrastination Across Germany Revisited”

The Long Night Against Procrastination: Our Evolving Relationship

Although the Long Night Against Procrastination began five years ago at Viadrina University in Frankfurt/Oder (one hour east of Berlin and the location of the 2014 EWCA conference), universities across the pond have also caught on. Julie Nelson Christoph, Director of the Center for Writing, Learning, and Teaching at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, WA shares this year’s event with us. 

Those of us who procrastinate have a special relationship with our procrastination, in its many varieties and causes. There’s the dreaded procrastination because of fear of the task, there’s joyous procrastination because of more enticing alternatives, and—when we’re smart—there’s what Professor John Perry calls “structured procrastination,” or putting the urge to procrastinate to good use by re-prioritizing our priority lists, so that the truly useful tasks (like major writing projects) become the distractions from the other tasks on the list (like vaguely important emails that seem pressing but have been forgotten by everyone but you).

Continue reading “The Long Night Against Procrastination: Our Evolving Relationship”

The Long Night Against Procrastination 2015: A German Perspective

Stephanie Dreyürst, founder and director of the Writing Center at Frankfurt’s Goethe-University, holds a PhD in Early Modern German Literature. She is interested in everything that has to do with (academic) writing, reading and thinking. Her favorite areas of research include personal learning environments, writing intensive courses, Writing Fellows, and Digital Humanities projects. She’s a proud member of the board of the German Skeptics. Below is her account of the #lnap events this year in Germany. 

Like every year, I wrote and read a lot during the Long Night Against Procrastination. Only this time I never left home. My bed, to be precise.

Normally, as one of two Directors of the Writing Center at Frankfurt’s Goethe University, I would have been with our peer tutors, supervising the event, watching writers settle into the library’s seats, making sure everybody was fine and happy, drinking the occasional cup of coffee (or three), closing the doors after a really long night, probably around 6:30 in the morning. But not this time.

Both my colleague and I had caught a cold and we just couldn’t be there. A real pity, because it’s such a special night for all of us and we normally have a huge amount of fun with the students and our tutors. But being bed-stricken gave me the opportunity to watch much closer than I normally would have what my colleagues at other Writing Centers were doing and what all the nocturnal writers were saying about their perspective on the Long Night Against Procrastination. Continue reading “The Long Night Against Procrastination 2015: A German Perspective”

Night Against Procrastination 2015 at Grand Valley State University

This year March 5, 2015 is the day many international writing centers celebrate the Long Night Against Procrastination. Patrick Johnson, Director of the Meijer Center for Writing at Grand Valley State University, shares how his institution has run a #lndah, or how they refer to it, a #NAP event for the last 3 years (this year will be their 4th). Unfortunately, due to the university’s spring break, the Center for Writing has delayed their NAP event until March 12-13. Below is a brief overview about the planned events. 

The Night Against Procrastination has become an annual tradition at Grand Valley State University. We started offering the event four years ago after learning about it from Sandra Ballweg (TU Darmstadt). Each year it has grown and we have been able to involve more campus programs in the promotion and organization of the event. The first year we held the event we had roughly 120 students attend, whereas last year we had over 200.

For students, NAP is an opportunity to get started on end-of-semester projects/papers after returning from spring break. For writing consultants, it is an essential form of staff bonding where many consultants participate as students as well as assisting with the running of the event. Traditionally, there are not many public outreach events that writing center’s host, so NAP is our one event where we invite everyone on campus to come to the writing center, learn about services, and surround themselves with productivity. A local pizza restaurant donates pizza for our midnight snack and we also offer desk yoga, brain games, campus walks and sunset viewings, as well as a victor’s breakfast for those who survive the night. We also give out pins to students who participate that say “power napper” and “I went all night.” Continue reading “Night Against Procrastination 2015 at Grand Valley State University”

“Write it Like Disaster”–a writing center music project

Last year, something caught the attention of Scott Whiddon, musician and director of the Transylvania University Writing Center and member of the Southeast Writing Center Association.

“More and more conversations I have (and observe other artists having) with engineers and producers is quite similar to conversations between student writers and writing center staffers. Furthermore, every time I go to a conference, I meet someone else who does music (as an at-home hobby, as a weekend player, in a vocal ensemble or choir, or in other kinds of music)…”

With the support of the SWCA Conference, chaired by Stacia Watkins, who helped closely with the project, he put out a call last fall to the writing center community–not to write a paper, or panel another presentation, but to contribute music.

The result was Write It Like Disaster, described as “a compilation of music made by writing center staffers, professionals, and allies.”

Continue reading ““Write it Like Disaster”–a writing center music project”

A Preview of International Writing Centers Week

Editor’s note: I asked Amber Slater, a former tutor of mine now studying Writing, Rhetoric, and Discourse at DePaul University, to talk about how their Writing Center is preparing for International Writing Centers Week.

IMG_2201[1]International Writing Centers Week, running from February 8th-14th, is almost upon us! At DePaul’s University Center for Writing-based Learning (UCWbL), this means a flurry of programming, celebration, and the annual release of the highly coveted UCWbL t-shirt.

The UCWbL is home not only to DePaul’s Writing Center, but also many other writing-related initiatives such as Writing Fellows, Writing Groups, and Workshops, which is the team that I work with directly as a Graduate Assistant. Our team traditionally produces and facilitates in-class workshops at the request of professors on topics ranging from group work to personal statements. During this year’s International Writing Centers Week, though, we are expanding our team’s efforts and offering voluntary, in-house workshops for all DePaul writers.

Continue reading “A Preview of International Writing Centers Week”

Count-down to next “Long Night Against Procrastination” on March 5, 2015 is on #lndah #writein

Katrin Girgensohn, Writing Center Academic Director of the writing center at the European University Viadrina in Frankfurt/Oder (located on the border with Poland) is currently also the chair of the European Writing Centers Association (EWCA). She and Daniel Spielmann, webmaster for the website “Long Night against Procrastination,” provided information about this event for this blog. The event mirrors the #InternationalWriteIn that successfully took place last December 4-9, 2014. Organized by over 22 small liberal arts college writing programs and the writing centers consortium, these campuses hosted an International Write-In between the end of classes and beginning of exams.

The first writing center event called “Lange Nacht der aufgeschobenen Hausarbeiten” took place at the writing center at European University Viadrina in 2010. In 2011 six more writing centers in Germany joined and in 2012 the event became international, with writing centers in the USA participating. This year organizers are hoping that they might twitter #lndahhave writing centers from Iceland, Australia and Canada participating, too.

To connect all participating writing centers, the wordpress blog Long Night against Procrastination (Schreibnacht) was created in 2012. The hashtag: #lndah (lange nacht der aufgeschobenen hausarbeiten, which means “Long Night of Postponed Papers” but many writing centers use “Long Night against Procrastination” to advertise this event) initially linked posts on various social media.Starting this year, organizers are also promoting the hashtag #writein for especially international participants. Continue reading “Count-down to next “Long Night Against Procrastination” on March 5, 2015 is on #lndah #writein”

International Peer Tutor Reading Group Announces Academic Text Talk #actexttalk

From Brandon Hardy, an instructor in the English Department of Middle Tennessee State University and a Peer Mentor in the University Writing Center:

My writing center colleagues and I would like to invite you to participate in our first Academic Text Talk (#actexttalk) at the end of January 2015, a monthly online event in which we will read and discuss important academic texts related to peer tutoring and the teaching of writing. Below you’ll find the link to the text we would like to discuss starting January 28th, within our Google+ Community called “International Peer Tutoring.” The link to the community is also provided below. For more information, please read the official announcement below the links for details. We look forward to chatting with you about scholarship that continues to revitalize the writing center field! Quick links:

Screen Shot 2015-01-26 at 12.59.31 PM“International Peer Tutoring,” a Google+ Community

Annett, Nancy: “Collaboration and the Peer Tutor: Characteristics, Constraints, and Ethical Considerations”

Here is how it works:

Announcement of the first Academic Text Talk (#actexttalk) We are really glad to announce to you the start of the Academic Text Talk, which promotes the reading of academic texts, discussing them together, and benefiting from this process with new experiences and knowledge. This project also advocates connecting across borders and developing an international community of people who are interested in writing theory and especially peer tutoring (everyone interested in or working with this concept is welcome).

Continue reading “International Peer Tutor Reading Group Announces Academic Text Talk #actexttalk”

CALL FOR PAPERS EXTENDED || CANADIAN WRITING CENTRES ASSOCIATION CONFERENCE, MAY 2015. OTTAWA, ON

Dr. Lucie Moussu writes:

I have been Director of the University of Alberta’s Centre for Writers (C4W) for almost six years, now, after getting a PhD in ESL at Purdue University and working as ESL Coordinator and Writing Centre Director at Ryerson University, in Toronto, for three years. The C4W is growing very quickly, with more than 40 graduate and undergraduate tutors (trained in a course I teach every fall). We served about 7000 students, faculty members, and staff last year, and we would like to help more people but we are running out of space. Most writing centre directors in Canada have administrative positions and I am one of the very few, if not the only one in Canada, who has a tenured faculty/Writing Centre Director position.

The Canadian Writing Centres’ Association (CWCA) used to be the “daughter” of a larger Canadian conference but seceded about three years ago, just as I was joining it. It had its very first independent conference in Victoria, in 2013, and a second conference near Toronto, last spring. Its next conference will be in Ottawa, in May. First, I was its francophone representative and now I am its Vice-Chair. Since I became involved in this association, I have tried to get tutors involved in research and presentations at our conferences. Historically, only writing centre administrators and directors have presented, since tutor research and involvement has not been something that is done in Canada, but I am trying to change this. PrintTo encourage tutors to attend and present at our conferences, I am trying to put together some kind of tutor bursary and create a “tutors interest section.” My C4W tutors have been the only ones presenting at the CWCA conferences so far, and I hope that the bursary and my efforts will pay off one day and we’ll have more directors getting their tutors involved in small projects and attending the conference and presenting together.

Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 1.05.02 PM

FROM THE CALL FOR PAPERS

Ideas connect us to the world and reconnect us to our lives and our professional practice, and theories and research can reconfirm what we do, or can provide us with fresh perspectives. We invite you to present a paper, conduct a workshop, or suggest a panel or roundtable on one of the following “capital ideas”:

  • The politics of location and funding in the Writing Centre
  • Perceptions of the Writing Centre in the community: Debunking myths.
  • Inclusive practices in the Writing Centre: Focusing on indigenous populations and bilingualism.
  • Opportunities for self-reflection in the Writing Centre.
  • The theory and practice of tutor training for the Writing Centre.
  • Technology and the Writing Centre.
  • Facilitating collaborative practices between Faculty and the Writing Centre.

For more, visit the CWCA website today!

Symposium on Writing Centers in Asia

TIU campus
TIU campus

The Seventh Symposium on Writing Centers in Asia will be held on Saturday, March 7, 2015, in Kawagoe, Saitama, Japan. It will be hosted this year by Tokyo International University in conjunction with the Writing Centers Association of Japan.

Proposals are sought in all areas of research and practice related to writing centers as well as the teaching and learning of writing. The submission deadline is January 15, 2015. To register to attend or to submit a proposal for a presentation, visit the WCAJ website.

Continue reading “Symposium on Writing Centers in Asia”

International Write-In: #nationalwritein

This week, from December 4-9, over 22 small liberal arts college writing programs and writing centers consortium are hosting an International Write-In between the end of classes and beginning of exams.  Two former Swarthmore Writing Associates who work in the writing centers of NYU-Shanghai and NYU-Abu Dhabi will also host a write-in, which is how the national write-in turned into an international event.

Selected tweets from the event are displayed below. Add your own, using the hashtag #nationalwritein!

International Write-In, Dec. 4-7, 2014

Last week Pam Bromley mentioned that the small liberal arts college writing programs and writing centers consortium is hosting an International Write-In from December 4-December 9,2014 with most schools hosting a write-in the evening of December 7.  As many of you already do, Swarthmore for the past few years has been hosting what we call a write-in between the end of classes and beginning of exams.  Here is a document we put together on the event. https://www.dropbox.com/s/t5pz6gk0egxgofa/Write-In%20Guide.pdf?dl=0

This year the coordinators at Swarthmore thought it would be interesting to see how many schools also held or would be interested in holding a write-in the same evening.  We have two goals in making this a national event:

1) We want to let people on and off campus know the value of a writing community. Our program’s mantra is, “You’re not alone,” and we think the write-ins have been another way of showing students the meaning behind the mantra.  By having more schools host write-ins, we can send this message even louder.

2) We want to increase our use of social media. During the days and evenings of the write-in we can communicate with each other via Facebook, Skype, Twitter, etc.  The hashtag for the event is #nationalwritein

We currently have 21 schools from three countries participating in the event.  Two former Swarthmore Writing Associates who work in the writing centers of NYU-Shanghai and NYU-Abu Dhabi will also host a write-in, which is how the national write-in turned into an international event.

You don’t need to be at a small college to join the festivities.  If your school is already hosting a similar event, and you want to be included as part of the International Write-In just let me know.  You can e-mail me at jgladst1@swarthmore.edu.

During those six days we hope to build a social media buzz around writingcenters and the work we do to build writing communities on our campuses. Send photos from your centers. Post the number of conferences held in a given day or night. Let’s make the work we do visible to those on and off of our campuses.

Be well,

Jill

Schools hosting a write-in December 4-9,2014.

Bates College

Bucknell University

Claremont McKenna College

Denison University

Franklin and Marshall College

Harvey Mudd College

Hobart and William Smith Colleges

Kenyon College

NYU Abu Dhabi

NYU Shanghai

Oberlin College

Occidental College

Pitzer College

Pomona College

Rhodes College

Swarthmore College

University of Puget Sound

Wellesley College

Westminster College

Wittenberg University

Wofford College

CFP: Sixth Symposium on Writing Centers in Asia

The Sixth Symposium on Writing Centers in Asia will be held on Saturday,
March 8, 2014, in Tokyo, Japan. It will be hosted this year by J.F.
Oberlin University in conjunction with the Writing Centers Association
of Japan.

Proposals are sought in all areas of research and practice related to
writing centers as well as the teaching and learning of writing. Both
research- and practice-based presentations are welcome. The submission
deadline is February 3, 2014.

For more information, visit the conference site.

Social Media Link-Up

Does your writing center have a blog? How about a Facebook page or a Twitter account? Post your social media and blog links in the comments, and we’ll get to work on creating a social media directory here on the CWCAB blog! And don’t forget that you can connect with Writing Lab Newsletter via Twitter and Facebook!

Fifth Symposium on Writing Centers in Asia: April 20, 2013

The Fifth Symposium on Writing Centers in Asia will be held on Saturday, April 20, 2013, in Tokyo, Japan. It will be hosted again this year by the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS).

Proposals are sought in all areas of research and practice related to writing centers as well as the teaching and learning of writing. Both research- and practice-based presentations are welcome. The submission deadline is April 1, 2013.

For more information, please visit the Web site of the Writing Centers Association of Japan.

Please forward this message to anyone who might be interested.

Tom Gally
Associate Professor
Department of Language and Information Sciences
Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
Managing Director, ALESS Program, College of Arts and Sciences
The University of Tokyo

Writing and Communication Center at the New Economic School, Moscow

My name is Kara Bollinger, and I am the Assistant Director of the Writing and Communication Center at the New Economic School (NES) in Moscow, Russia. Our writing center is just now turning one-year-old and is one of only two writing centers in Russia. So, the Director of the WCC, Olga Aksakalova, and I are excited to join the conversation on CWCAB. We’re sure to have questions (and hopefully insights) in the coming months, but for now we want to say “hey.”

Students at our school are enrolled in one of three programs: Bachelor’s in Economics (a joint program with the Higher School of Economics), Master’s in Economics, and Master’s in Finance. Students write and give presentations in both English and Russian. The WCC offers one-on-one writing consultations in both English and Russian. We also hold workshops on a variety of writing and communication topics (again some workshops are in English and some are in Russian). Our students read in English, attend courses in English, and listen to presentations in English, but they often want more practice speaking; because of this, we also offer one-on-one English conversation sessions.  In addition to Olga and me, the WCC employs four part-time professional consultants who work with students.

Though most of our time is dedicated to students, we also work with faculty. First, we are active collaborators with the English department in helping develop curriculum and providing guidance on aspects of courses like writing assignments, rubrics, and peer review questions. Second, we are beginning to work with Economics faculty on effectively teaching and incorporating writing in their courses.

As a recent transplant to Moscow (I’ve been here for a little over a month) what I’ve noticed most (in the WCC, that is) is that the writing pedagogy and the writing center theory that are commonplace in the US are new ideas here. Though students come to the WCC expecting help with their writing or speaking, they often show up for a session, sit down at the table and say “So, what is this place?” It’s quite rewarding to explain the writing center to students and makes the goal-setting portion of the session crucial. In the future, Olga hopes to write more about her experiences starting the WCC here last year, which illustrate the idea of Rhet/Comp being new in Russia.

Note boardOne way we’re working to increase our school’s understanding of the WCC is through Open Houses. The WCC got a new home this year, so we hope that once students actually visit the space, we can say “Okay—here’s what we do here.” To help root our writing center, our Open Houses include a discussion of other writing centers. We hope this will help students understand the context in which the WCC exists. Additionally, we want students to feel like the WCC is “theirs.” So, we’re encouraging them to provide artwork, photos, creative writing, and/or favorite quotes to decorate the WCC. To start, we’ve asked students to write their writing and/or communication goals for the year on a Post-It note and to post those goals in the WCC. So far, the Open Houses seem to be working. Students have been active in engaging us with questions about the WCC and excited about continuing to participate.

That’s all for now. We look forward to sharing and collaborating with you all soon.