First Paragraph The three of us have been involved in secondary school writing centers for longer than we like to admit. Although our ages, backgrounds, and schools differ, we agree that computers, when used in writing centers, are tools for teaching writing across disciplines. We believe that writers should not be forced to do all …
In academic circles, one might assume that any entity that fosters the very critical thinking, challenge, and collaboration that constitute the foundation of higher learning would command due respect and appreciation. However, as we all know, such is not always true in the case of writing centers.
A search with the Alta Vista online database for the keywords WAC and curriculum reveals that many writing centers and writing programs now use the World Wide Web to communicate with faculty involved in Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC) programs. Larry Beason of Eastern Washington State University also provides a web page with a long list of links to other universities’ WAC web pages
It’s no secret that the study, implementation, and use of networked computers in writing instruction requires critical reflection. (Many writers, such as Cynthia Selfe, 1992, Christina Haas, 1996, and Ann Hill Duin and Craig Hansen, 1996 have made that claim.) We’re still learning, though, how to reflect critically— how to examine the interactions of technology and humans in the writing process.
Wiring the Writing Center is one of the first books to address the theory and application of electronics in the writing center. In the chapters here, contributors explore particular features of their own “wired” center, discussing theoretical foundations, pragmatic choices, and practical strengths.
With the rapidly increasing application of educational technologies in many aspects of college curricula, this seasoned writing center director, with more than sixteen years in the front lines of one-to-one instruction, can only blush when remembering the heated, serious, debates over whether to buy a new 512k computer (even with dual disk drives and the latest version of MS-DOS) over staying the course with a CPM-run Kaypro metal box.
Donald Schön (1983) describes “reflective practitioners” as those who are able to do all of the following: read and write and think and theorize about their own practice. They take what they’ve learned, assimilate it, and then they are able to apply it in different situations, altering content and application as context demands.
In 1984, when my supervisor invited me into his office to “talk about” purchasing computers for the Johnson County Community College (JCCC) Writing Center (the Center), my only prior knowledge about computer technology came from a month’s stint of working for Lee’s Temporaries one summer between teaching terms. That computer was the size of a small closet and ate data cards that I fed it for two long weeks.
Jeff works the night shift at the local cheese plant to cover tuition costs, housing, and family living expenses. When he gets off work at 7:30, he’s off to a series of classes and then a few hours of sleep.
The Online Writing and Learning (OWL) at the University of Michigan grew out of our face-to-face (f2f) peer tutoring program in many ways. Although our OWL website includes links to other OWLs that offer electronic handouts, our primary purpose is to respond to writers’ needs, online, person-to-person.