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?
Professor Chris LeCluyse at Westminster College, Utah, is organising mentors for writing centre staff interested in publishing articles about the work they do in the Writing Center Newsletter.
Chris writes: The WLN mentor match program is intended to bring writers working on articles for WLN together with experienced mentors who know a thing or two about writing center work and publishing. Mentors give feedback to writers submitting to WLN to help them develop articles for publication. Mentors actively engage in goal-setting with the mentee.
Mentors also work with writers who may be interested in writing but aren’t sure what to write about or where to begin. In other words, a WLN mentor does much the same work as tutors in a writing center.
Writing centers are popping up worldwide. As more and more institutions of higher education see the need to support writers, writing and writing to learn, they are opening writing centers. However, those tasked with trying to establish writing centers, most often have to learn their business by doing and in relative isolation.
To provide professionals and academics within Europe who are seeking to develop writing centers a sustained opportunity for professional development, the European Writing Centers Association offered its first Summer Institute August 19th-23rd at European University Viadrina in Frankfurt (Oder) in Germany, directly at the German-Polish border. Thirty participants from 16 different countries participated. They were invited and accompanied by five experienced Writing Center leaders from Germany, Ireland, and the USA.
Because a central aspect of writing center work is the philosophy of collaborative learning, the Summer Institute was designed to be a truly interactive and participatory learning experience. All topics were delivered to allow all participants to share knowledge and experiences with each other. Together with their leaders, they enhanced their understanding of the following topics:
. Peer writing tutor education . Working with faculty and administration . Demonstrating impact: Writing center assessment and more . The Writing Center budget . Grant writing for writing center projects . Possible exchange programs (e.g. Erasmus) . Working with multilingual students . Writing center research and publication . Writing center sustainability
Participants also had ample time to network and to socialize as they walked together to our lodgings in a student hotel across the lovely Oder River that marks the border between Germany and Poland. They shared snacks from their home countries during our daily coffee breaks and spent time each day in small mentoring groups.
To celebrate our hard work at the closing of the Institute, participants created and staged writing circus characters in a Writers‘ Circus, “a very creative and great way to end our time together”, as a participant expressed it.
The feedback of participants was overwhelmingly positive and many expressed how they were looking forward not only to going back to their writing center work, but also to continuing the networking informally and through future summer institutes. The Summer Institute, one participant summarized, “showed me the incredible connections you make with people from all around the world, because we have that one thing in common: The love for writing – and writing consultations and centers!”
Dartmouth Summer Seminar for Writing Research
the dates! July 26 – August 7, 2020
Summer Seminar was one of the most rewarding professional experiences of my
career.” (previous participant)
A detailed announcement and the
seminar application will be available by October 1st – applications due
December 15th 2019—but here is a preview:
The 2020 Dartmouth Summer Seminar
for Writing Research is designed for writing faculty from all types of higher
education venues and contexts who are beginning to work on data-driven research
about writing in a variety of higher education contexts, and who would like an
intensive, high-powered two weeks to work on that research, review approaches
and methods, consult directly with experts, and network long-term with a cohort
of other researchers from around the world. Guided interaction about
participants’ projects is offered in the months leading up to the Seminar. The
Seminar itself offers a quiet, resource-rich environment, coursework,
small-group discussion and exchange, individual consultation with Seminar
leaders, time to work alone or in groups on research projects, and a concluding
presentation to the group with feedback from team leaders.
We encourage both individuals and
research groups or teams to apply.
The Seminar coursework covers a
range of topics, including data segmenting and coding, statistical analysis,
effective literature reviews, research ethics, and so on. Special-interest
topics are presented based on participants’ projects.
If you’ve been asking yourself any
of the following questions, this is the seminar for you:
How do I turn an interest into a viable data-driven investigation?
am very comfortable with my usual research approach, but would like to develop
new data-driven research abilities; can you help?
What data do I collect for my research study? How do I collect them?
What should I look for when I analyze the data? What is the deeper phenomenon I
am looking for? What is a good site for investigating it?
would like a writing research group within which to work—how can I find that?
Everyone seems to be talking about “coding” these days—how can I learn more
What methods are the best for the questions I would like to answer?
Where can I learn more about how to select a sample, how to create a worthwhile
survey or interview, and how to calculate statistical significance?
Should I conduct a pilot study first? What are the advantages and disadvantages
of a pilot study (including funding)?
Why does my research question keep changing?
What’s the best way to present and publish my research?
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.
On the 21st and 22nd of June, 2018, in an effort to move our association toward greater sustainability, three members of the EWCA board, the current EWCA Chair Franziska Liebetanz, Center for Key Competencies and Research Learning (ZSFL) Writing Center Head, Europa-Universität Viadrina, Frankfurt (Oder), Germany; Doris Pany-Habsa, Head of the Writing Center, University of Graz, Austria; and Lawrence Cleary, Educational Developer and Co-Director of the Regional Writing Centre, University Limerick, Ireland met with Lisa Ganobcsik-Williams, Head of Centre for Academic Writing, Coventry University, EATAW ex-officio board member and editor of the Journal of Academic Writing (JoAW), the journal of the European Association for the Teaching of Academic Writing); Íde O’Sullivan, Senior Educational Developer and Co-Director Regional Writing Centre, University Limerick, Ireland;
Birgit Huemer, Senior Lecturer in Applied Linguistics and Language Teaching (Academic German) University Luxembourg Language Centre; Shareen Grogan, Director, Writing and Math Centers at National University, San Diego, California and past President, IWCA; Alison Farrell, Teaching Development Officer in the Centre for Teaching and Learning and Head of the University’s Writing Centre, Maynooth University, Maynooth, Ireland; Pamela Bromley, Assistant Director of College Writing and Assistant Professor of Politics and International Relations, Pomona College, California; Mario van de Visser, Instructor Division Academic Support Language Center coordinator of the Scriptorium, Tilburg University, Tilburg, The Netherlands; Annemieke Meijer is a lecturer and academic tutor at University College Utrecht, and the coordinator of UCU’s Writing & Skills Center, University College, Utrect, The Netherlands; and Katrin Girgensohn, Center for Key Competencies and Research Learning (ZSFL) Head, Europa-Universität Viadrina, Frankfurt (Oder), Germany, past Chair Together, we developed a plan for the future with very concrete steps: EWCA and current Advisory Board member to the EWCA.
We had very good and helpful presentations about the EWCA, the IWCA (International Writing Center Association), the EATAW (European Association of Teaching Academic Writing) and the Writing Center Journal, and we had lovely Pecha Kuchas about the writing centers of all the contributors.
We spent two very productive and fruitful days thinking about our European Writing Center Association. We would like to say thank you to those who came all this way to Ireland to make contributions.
Together, we developed a plan for the future with very concrete steps:
In 2019, we will have an EWCA Summer Institute for writing center people at the European University Viadrina in Frankfurt (Oder), Germany. Details will be announced soon.
What:Workshop on writing center assessment with experts from the USA: Ellen Schendel und William Macauley
Where:Campus European-University Viadrina, Große Scharrnstraße 59, 15230 Frankfurt (Oder)
We are delighted that our university’s president Prof. Alexander Wöll will open the ceremonies. After the official opening we will hear speeches from Dr. Katrin Girgensohn, Director of the Center for Key Competences and Research-Oriented Learning at the Viadrina, as well as from Prof. Julie Nelson Christoph, Professor of English and Director of the Center for Writing, Learning, and Teaching at the University of Puget Sound, USA. Ceremonies will close with a panel discussion on writing with teachers from all faculties of the European-University Viadrina.
Afterwards there will be accompanying entertainment and time to celebrate together with drinks and food.
We kindly ask you to register with this online form before 20 April 2017. Thank you.
Franziska Liebetanz, Katrin Girgensohn & the team of the Writing Center at the European-University Viadrina in Frankfurt (Oder)
*Detailed information about the time will be announced soon.