Dr. Joseph Essid, Writing Center Director, University of Richmond posts student essays about how the COVID-19 pandemic changed their lives on his Spider Ghost Town blog.
Students of Joe’s class undergraduate Writing Consultants training class “describe the hopes and trauma of what has probably been the most unsettling event in our scholastic lives. There’s a lot of good advice there for writings centers, as well as a record of a semester badly interrupted and a world changed.”
Our Board met recently to talk about whether we should cancel or postpone the conference or whether we should try to hold an online conference. After a long and serious deliberation, the EWCA Board has made the difficult decision to postpone the Conference 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. The date of the conference is too close, and we still cannot assure that it can go forward. Also, it is difficult to have a synchronous online conference as participants and members are from all over the world.
We feel very sorry, and we are also sad. We’ve been very much looking forward to welcoming all of you to Graz and to create a space for our community to come together, to talk, to discuss and to celebrate.
We are planning on holding the conference in Graz in 2022. We considered holding the conference in 2021, but with everything so up in the air, it is not possible to predict whether everyone concerned would be in a position to travel by summer 2021. We intend to keep the same topic as was announced for the 2020 conference, so everybody who already had an abstract accepted is welcome to join us and to deliver their presentations, workshops or roundtables in 2022, exact dates to be confirmed. Others who were unable to submit for various reasons will have the chance to answer a call for papers that will be forthcoming by the end of 2021.
How to keep in touch?
We are a community of practice, and our community is very international. I fondly remember all the beautiful conferences and meeting people from all over the world. Meeting friends and sharing our knowledge, ideas and questions.
We have not met for a long time, so we are thinking about how we can keep in touch until we meet again.
We have the listserv, and we will soon open a new the Facebook group and we have our blog https://www.ewcacircular.eu/. These are our digital instruments for keeping in touch.
We would like to invite everybody to present their writing center and to tell us a bit about your writing center and the challenges you are facing during the coronavirus pandemic. Please write a text for our blog, videos and pictures are also welcome to hand in. We will publish you story on our blog.
Finally, the postponement of the conference poses another issue that we would like to address in this announcement. As you all may know, the election of the board traditionally happens every two years at the EWCA Conference. However, because we have not met since 2016 at the conference in Łodz, our Board and our Chair have are already been in office for four years . As we are unable to hold elections for the EWCA Board and EWCA Chair until 2022, we decided to work without a Chair, working as a unit instead as an ad interim committee (Lawrence Cleary, Franziska Liebetanz and Doris Pany) and we are also thankful to have Elif Demirel and Annemieke Meijer with us.
Warm regards, Franziska Liebetanz, Doris Pany an Lawrence Cleary
Stories and Reflections on the Impact of Covid-19 on Writing Center Work
The editors of WLN would like to create a space to gather and record your reflections and impressions on how Covid-19 has impacted your writing centers. We recognize the devastating impact that the virus has caused to writing centers as staff fall ill, budgets are cut, positions are furloughed. We do not yet know when or how this pandemic will end or what lessons we will learn, both in the short and the long term. But we are certain that writing center professionals will want to reflect upon, learn from, and understand how we experienced this moment and its impact on our services, users, and our futures. We also know that writing centers will prevail and in some situations emerge stronger with renewed clarity of purpose or strengthened value to the campus community. For this special issue, then, we are interested in capturing your reflections on any potential positive outcomes that have or may emerge from the impact of Covid-19 plus new solutions, approaches, and/or strategies that have worked for you.
We are inviting short submissions of 500-750 words from directors, tutors, and even frequent writing center users. Please submit them through the WLN website: wlnjournal.org, by August 1, 2020, and choose “other” as the type of submission.
Here are some possible prompts:
How has your care for tutors and writers changed since COVID 19 emerged? What long-term effects of this care do you predict will last in your writing center?
What new methods, processes, or tools have you adopted that you would not have if COVID 19 did not occur? How has this changed the way your writing center now operates? How does this change impact the ways you will offer tutoring in the future?
What is the best outcome you have experienced from COVID 19? How has this changed you, your center, your tutors?
How has COVID 19 changed the way you educate tutors? Will these changes be temporary or long-term pedagogical shifts?
How has COVID 19, or thinking in terms of infection control procedures more generally, impacted your relationship to the physical space of your writing center?
When your writing center returns to its physical space, what will you change, add, or revise after experiencing being online as the only way to interact with writers? For example, will you add or continue to have online accessibility?
• What has been your experience with online technology, and what would you recommend and why?
• What tutoring adaptations have you and your tutors made when tutoring online? Why?
For writing center users: how has your experience with the writing center been enhanced through online interaction? Or how has the writing center helped you through the shift to online learning as a consequence of Covid-19?
If you have tested or used multiple platforms, such as Zoom, GoToMeeting, Skype, FaceTime, etc., what are the various advantages and/or disadvantages?
The EWCA board is happy to invite you to the 2020 EWCA Conference on July 8 – 11 at the University of Graz, Austria.
Keep these dates!!!
Our preparations are still in the early stages, but we already decided on our topic and shaped our ideas into a little abstract:
EWCA Conference 2020
Writing Centers as Spaces of Empowerment
Karl-Franzens-Universität Graz (Austria), July 8 – 11, 2020
Higher education is widely perceived as a promise of empowerment:
It is assumed that access to new fields of knowledge and new social and cultural practices will empower students in higher education to successfully acculturate into and participate in their chosen discipline-specific communities of practice. In higher education institutes without dedicated writing programs, ensuring that promise of empowerment often falls to Writing Centers and various other kinds of student development centers.
Writing centers have to ask themselves what kind of center they want to be: Do they want to interface in live or virtual spaces? Do they want to uncritically teach established formal conventions or invite students to explore the social and political motivations behind those forms? Do they wish to pursue a deficit model? Or do they want to promote a more critical analysis of situated, disciplinary writing practices in third-level education? An Academic Literacies approach requires that writing centers address how teachers and student writers are positioned by the inherently hierarchical social relationships that motivate, even dictate literacy practices in any given disciplinary or institutional context.
Considering these aspects we want to focus the following question at our EWCA Conference 2020:
What can Writing Centers do to make the academic promise of empowerment come true?
We hope that this crucial question will be appealing and appropriate to generate a lot of interesting answers that we can discuss during our EWCA conference next year. A more detailed Call for Papers will follow at the end of summer.
Chris announced the recent publication on Facebook: “Hard copies! Thanks to all the great contributors (some not on my FB–pls. tag), fabulous co-editor Jessie Moore, and the always-supportive Mike Palmquist, Sue McCleod, and Dave Blakesley.”
You can get a look at the new addition on the WAC Clearinghouse website at https://wac.colostate.edu/books/ansonmoore/
Copying in the blurb below from the WAC Clearinghouse just to get you salivating a bit about what awaits you:
In Critical Transitions: Writing and the Question of Transfer, Chris Anson and Jessie Moore offer an important new collection about prior learning and transfer theories that asks what writing knowledge should transfer, how we might recognize that transfer, and what the significance is—from a global perspective—of understanding knowledge transformation related to writing. The contributors examine strategies for supporting writers’ transfer at key critical transitions, including transitions from high-school to college, from first-year writing to writing in the major and in the disciplines, between self-sponsored and academic writing, and between languages. The collection concludes with an epilogue offering next steps in studying and designing for writing transfer.
About the Editors
Chris Anson is Distinguished University Professor and Director of the Campus Writing and Speaking Program at North Carolina State University. He has published fifteen books and more than 120 articles and book chapters relating to writing and has spoken widely across the U.S. and in 28 other countries.
Jessie L. Moore is Associate Drector of the Center for Engaged Learning and Associate Professor of English: Professional Writing & Rhetoric at Elon University. Her recent research examines transfer of writing knowledge and practices, multi-institutional research and collaborative inquiry, writing residencies for faculty writers, the writing lives of university students, and high-impact pedagogies.
Publication Information: Anson, Chris M., & Moore, Jessie L. (Eds.). (2016). Critical Transitions: Writing and the Question of Transfer. Perspectives on Writing. Fort Collins, Colorado: The WAC Clearinghouse and University Press of Colorado. Available at https://wac.colostate.edu/books/ansonmoore/
Online Publication Date: June 19, 2016. Print Publication Date: March 1, 2017.
Lawrence Cleary is a Co-Director of the Regional Writing Centre at the University of Limerick, Limerick, Ireland. He is a newly-elected member of the EWCA board.
Since 2011, at the Regional Writing Centre (RWC) at the University of Limerick, Ireland, I have been interviewing prolific writers, both academic and creative, about their writing processes, how they assess their writing situations and their strategies for negotiating the process in a given situation. The RWC’s series was inspired by Hilton Obenzinger’s How I Write Series at Stanford’s Hume Writing Center. Though Stanford’s series is much better funded than my meagre attempt at the University of Limerick, the effect is nevertheless the same: to make the process of writing more visible. We can watch fishermen tie a knot on YouTube or watch how a Ferrari is manufactured on TV, but when was the last time a prolific writer’s writing process was documented on time-lapse video for all to watch?
The RWC calls its series How I Write, Ireland, and as they do in Stanford, we video record and transcribe the interviews with prolific writers, posting the video and transcripts on the Regional Writing Centre’s website, accessible to everyone on Earth who has internet access and are curious about how good writers write. We also include written lesson plans that identify things the writers have said and present them as prompts for in-class or at-home free-writes and discussions, getting novice writers and teachers alike to be more conscious of what they do, what they think, what they feel and how they incorporate others into their process when they write.
For some time, it has been in my mind to extract those portions of the interview that inspired those prompts from the video and present them as self-contained ten to fifteen-minute video lesson plans. Not long ago, I received a bit of money from the t1Step programme, an Irish education programme that is promoting the use of technology for learning. That small amount was enough to motivate me to get two video lessons up and running. These videos are listed as Video Lessons on our website, and as one can see when they click on the link, the first speaks about the role of cultural capital in the making of a good writer, and the second interview focuses on the role of deadlines in the writer’s process.
These short video lessons are true testaments to the individuality of the writing process. The videos compare two writer’s opinions about a particular issue. Revealed is that despite having diametrically opposing positions on the matter being discussed, they both end up in the same place: lauded writers with publications that go around the block and back again.
We hope that students and teachers alike will delve into our growing bank of interviews and use them to learn how good writers go about the process of writing, how they contend with obstacles to their writing goals and how they analyse the situations into which they write. It is our hope that these writers’ revelations about their own processes will offer novice writers ideas about how they might better negotiate their own process and better assess the writing situations that confront them. It is our hope that these videos and video lessons will instigate and perpetuate a conversation on writing that began long before we came along, but that the RWC, nevertheless, made a primary mission when we established our ethos ten years ago this coming April.
The Regional Writing Centre asks users that find the resource valuable to help us with our research on this resource by answering the appropriate questionnaire on our How to Participatepage. One survey is for those using the resource as a teaching tool and the other for those who use the videos as a learning tool. Any feedback or information that you can give about how you used our resource would be gratefully received as the information will assist us in future funding applications for this resource. Enjoy.