Call for Submissions: Creative Writing/Center

Amy Hansen is the assistant director of the Appalachian State University Writing Center and a recent graduate of the MFA program in creative writing at Northern Michigan University. She’s joining the CWCAB blog team as a staff writer–and has a great first project!

For my first project at CWCAB, I’d like to solicit and share the creative writing of writing center tutors and administrators here on the blog. I’d love to read poetry and short non-fiction/fiction pieces about writing center work, but I’m just as interested in creative work that’s more abstractly inspired by the practice and pedagogy of tutoring writing. Maybe you have a poem inspired by an interaction with a student in the writing center. Maybe you wrote a reflective profile of yourself as a tutor. Maybe (fingers crossed!) you composed the first writing center rock opera. Whatever it is, however you got there from writing center studies, we want to read it.

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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.

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Listserv Misgivings and the WcORD

Screen Shot 2016-03-17 at 8.25.38 AMThis blog post is courtesy of Patrick Hargon, the Associate Director of the Learning Commons at the University of Nebraska at Kearney. 

If you haven’t checked out the Writing Center Online Research Database, enter a term in the search field at this link. It is like a micro-Google just for writing centers. You can find annotated exchanges from WCenter, links to writing center websites with all of the handouts and videos and resources so many have created, links to journal articles, blogs, podcasts, etc.

Perhaps its most useful function, for me, is that it offers a new site to check whenever I get the feeling that I want to post a question to the WCenter listserv.

Last Friday, as UNK’s Learning Commons neared closing time, I pulled one of our writing tutors aside and asked her to tutor me. She said she would, but I couldn’t judge her. “That’s got to go both ways,” I said, knowing that I was about to drag her into a house of mirrors: I wanted to send a question to the WCenter listserv, and I just needed to verbally release, like static electric discharge, all of the misgivings I cycle through beforehand. Should I this, should I that? Should I not? No, I should not. Okay, just do the thing. Hit send.

I’ve never been browbeaten on a listserv, I’ve never sent a message and lost sleep over it (I haven’t hit “Reply-all” by accident yet), and I’ve never come up with a single rational reason to go through the anxious protocol of searching the archives, writing, deleting, searching the archives again, rewriting, thinking, overthinking, finishing, almost sending, rethinking, etc., before simply hitting send. Furthermore, WCenter has an admirable record for polite responses to questions that have been asked many times before.

The tutor and I looked over recent posts to assess the tone of the salutations, to look at folks’ preferred sign-offs, to just get a feel for the different intonations of queries. We didn’t come up with a coding or classification system or anything, so I have nothing to report from our findings. But it was fun.

After that, she asked, “What are you worried about?”

“Well, creating an international wave of eyerolls throughout higher education,” I said.

She said, “Seriously, what’s the worst thing that could happen?”
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Writing Center Topographies: Art, Space, and Stature

Geoffrey Middlebrook
Geoffrey Middlebrook

Editor’s note: I met Dr. Geoffrey Middlebrook at IWCA this year and loved hearing about the redesign of his center. I asked him to share a bit about how they partnered with various departments around campus to create a student art gallery in their space!

We who work in or with writing centers know that one of the many enduring challenges is space, or in the words of Nathalie Singh-Corcoran and Amin Emika, “where a center should be located, what a center should look like, what a center should feel like.” Another and related challenge for writing centers is establishing prominence on campus, which can be cultivated through, among other things, intra-institutional relationships (the collection Before and After the Tutorial contains a broad discussion of this topic).

Opening Reception
Opening Reception

In October 2015 I examined the intersection of these spatial and statural concerns at the IWCA Annual Conference in Pittsburgh, with a presentation on a project at the University of Southern California (USC), where I am Director of the Writing Center. It was fortuitous that the IWCA call for proposals highlighted how writing centers might utilize visual arts, allow students to create and connect, and join in partnerships and campus-wide initiatives and activities, for the USC project aggregated all three.

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CFP: Sharing Common Ground? Writing Centers and Learning Commons

Guest Editors: Hillory Oakes and Steven J. Corbett for the WLN Journal

As schools look to develop students as sophisticated communicators across disciplines and media, more and more writing centers are becoming—or considering becoming—part of multiliteracy-focused learning commons enterprises (Koehler; Deans and Roby). In fact, the success of writing center programming has on many campuses contributed to the emergence of the learning commons model. Writing center directors and tutors have a wealth of knowledge to bring to these endeavors: we are natural collaborators and have developed skills and practices that put us in a perfect position to lead conversations about the learning commons at our institutions (Harris, “Preparing”; Lunsford and Ede).

11800171_902887463119022_7738110525106617949_nStill, the history of our field has taught us that we must pay attention to names and titles, definitions of purpose and mission statements, institutional hierarchies and physical locations (Macauley and Mauriello; Mauriello, Macauley, and Koch; McKinney; Salem). These are not niceties but necessities for developing successful programs. Just as defining what a writing center is and is not has historically been problematic (Boquet and Lerner; Lerner; McKinney; Corbett), the definition of “learning commons” currently varies widely between institutions (Oblinger) and at times revisits all-too-familiar territory. For example, writing centers have long rejected being cast as “fix-it shops,” yet now it is common for the learning commons to be touted as a place for “one-stop shopping.”

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IDC Herzliya Writing Center: The story behind Israel’s first academic writing center.

Editor’s note: As part of our ongoing work to gain a broader appreciation of the vital work our colleagues around the world are doing, I asked Dr. Miriam Symon and Ms. Sharone Kravez to share the story of their center in Israel.

The Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) Herzliya, located in the central Sharon region of Israel, not far from the Mediterranean coastline, has changed the face of Israeli academia, with its interdisciplinary approach and strong social commitment. It offers innovative and dynamic academic programs in law, business, government, computer science, communications, psychology, economics and sustainability. Approximately 25% of IDC’s 6,500 students study in the Raphael Recanati International School (RRIS), which has students from over 80 countries who come to Israel to study their degree in English-medium instruction (EMI).

IDC’s Writing Center is currently in its third year of operation. For years, the EFL Unit sought to establish a writing center, and students cooperated with the unit in seeking to promote this objective. We were successful, when it was recognized that students need support in the growing trend of EMI courses for Israeli and international students.

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Tutoring with an International Background: Part Two

Editor’s note: for the first installment in this series, click here. Read on for excellent stories from Lara, Jimmy, and Nne!

NNE NWANKWO
Pursuing Political Science, Urban Affairs & Planning, and Creative Writing at Virginia Tech

As a Nigerian (from metropolitan Lagos), I grew up learning and understanding several languages at the same time. Nigeria is one of the most ethnically diverse countries in the world, and more importantly, Lagos is the melting pot of the nation. As an Igbo girl, I learned Igbo growing up; and as a contemporary Nigerian, pidgin English is necessary to enjoyably engage in any conversation. As a Lagosian, Yoruba (no matter how little) is important to convincingly haggle with a hawker or to spit fire at a rude neighbor. Furthermore, as francophone nations of Benin, Cameron and Togo border Nigeria, French is the mandatory foreign language in schools. In fact, most contemporary Nigerian songs incorporate a mix of Nigerian pidgin, Yoruba and Igbo, and many times, other minority languages. Sometimes, the songs include French ad-libs also. Nigerian music is a direct representation of the average Nigerian’s speaking and writing patterns – a beautifully jumbled mesh of multiple languages.

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WcORD goes public!

Ever feel like the same questions get asked on the listservs and Facebook groups again and again?

Looking for examples of writing center videos?

What articles to read about training programs?

Links to regional writing center groups?

There’s a new solution for that!

The WLN is pleased to announce that WCORD: The Writing Center Online Resource Database is now LIVE.

Associate editor Lee Ann Glowzenski, a key architect of the archive, shares that “WcORD is a community project, and we’re depending on users to help the database to grow. We’d love to see the addition of writing center websites and blogs, links to articles and handouts, videos and multimedia presentations — any and all resources that writing center practitioners and researchers use in their everyday work.”

Mickey Harris agrees. “Join on in! Enter the online resources they have for their centers or that they know about (including the URLs for their WCA organizations). Together, we can make this an invaluable resource for our community.”

Explore and bookmark the WcORD today!