Our Blog Receives the John Lovas Award from Kairos!

By Bradley Hughes

Brad Hughes is director of the Writing Center and Director of Writing Across the Curriculum at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and he is the editor of Another Word, the UW-Madison Writing Center’s blog.

Two of the nominators--Professor Kate Vieira (left), University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Professor Annette Vee, University of Pittsburgh.

Two of the nominators–Professor Kate Vieira (left), University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Professor Annette Vee, University of Pittsburgh.

In May of 2016, the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Writing Center staff was thrilled to learn that our blog, Another Word, which you’re reading now, received the 2016 John Lovas Award, a major national award. This award honors the best use of blogs and other open-publishing tools of the Internet for knowledge-creation and community-building in rhetoric and composition. The award is given each year by the journal Kairos: A Journal of Rhetoric, Technology, and Pedagogy, which is the longest running e-journal in rhetoric and composition and one of the top journals in digital rhetoric.

The UW-Madison Writing Center’s blog, which began in 2009, features weekly posts about writing center theory, research, and practice, collaboratively written by current members of the Writing Center’s staff, including undergraduate and graduate students, and by alumni and friends of the Writing Center. In a typical month, the blog draws over 58,000 page views from around the world. The nomination for this award came from 39 PhD alumni from our department (led by Annette Vee, who is on the faculty at the University of Pittsburgh) and by other friends of our blog from around the country.

At the risk of seeming self-congratulatory, we thought our blog readers might enjoy reading the letter nominating our blog for this prestigious award. We also thought this would give us a chance to thank Kairos, our nominators, Rik Hunter who played a key role in designing and launching our blog in 2009, and the many, many authors and commenters who have contributed to our blog over the past seven years. Thank you all!

The Nomination Letter

March 25, 2016

RE: John Lovas Award Nomination

Dear Kairos Communications Editors:

We write to nominate Another Word, the UW-Madison Writing Center Blog, for the John Lovas Award. Launched in 2009 and orchestrated by Brad Hughes, the indefatigable Director of the Writing Center and of Writing Across the Curriculum at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Another Word has exemplified the knowledge-building and community creation recognized by this award in its collective authorship and its consistent public conversations about the teaching of writing. With 176 posts, over 1600 comments, and around 58,000 visitors in a typical month, Another Word is a paragon of online public scholarship and engaged conversations about writing.

Our Writing Center's blog, October 2009

Our Writing Center’s blog, October 2009

The primary goals of Another Word are to help with sharing innovative ideas for writing centers around the country and the world and advancing the field of writing center studies, to provide a publication outlet for the UW-Madison writing center staff and alumni, and to build and sustain a larger writing center community. Every post on Another Word is written by a member of the UW-Madison Writing Center community, including current tutors both undergraduate and graduate, friends, administrators and alumni. Another Word strives to feature a diversity of voices and its authorship is truly collaborative. For many of the authors, writing for Another Word is often their first experience in blogging. Posts range in topic from peer tutoring, community writing assistance, celebrating local events, productive silence, podcasts interviewing Writing Center scholars and practioners, neurodiversity in writing, writing retreats, U.S. writing centers from a German perspective, residential colleges tutoring, and so on. Every single post is carefully considered and polished and contributes to our collective knowledge about the tutoring of writing, theories of writing pedagogy, writing in the world, or administration of a successful and bustling writing center.

Stylistically, posts take advantage of the blog medium: they’re cleverly titled, beautifully formatted, many of them embed photos and links, and most posts are heavily commented. The comments bear special mention: so that their posts spark conversation rather than speaking into a void, authors often round up the larger UW-Madison community and encourage them to comment on a particular post relevant to their work. To those of us in this community of commenters, these periodic invitations remind us of the intellectually rich training we received and contributed to at the UW-Madison Writing Center. We take a moment to stop our busy lives, read the post and reconnect with our rich diaspora of writing teachers. This sustained and public attention to knowledge-sharing and community-building evidenced by Another Word’s writing process is deeply engrained in the UW-Madison Writing Center’s ethos, led so expertly by Brad Hughes for 32 years.

Our Writing Center's blog, redesigned in January 2014.

Our Writing Center’s blog, redesigned in January 2014.

Another Word is just one branch of the mighty UW-Madison online writing center—one of the first and one of the largest and most comprehensive in the US—which offers support for student-writers across the university and others across the country and around the world through hundreds of pages of reference materials, online consultations, and the Writing Across the Curriculum site. For the computers and writing community, Brad Hughes’ blog post on the UW-Madison Writing Center’s digital history is most relevant–and might be deserving of this award all by itself: “The Evolution of the UW-Madison’s Writing Center Online: A WayBack Look.” The post lists a dozen ways the UW-Madison Writing Center helps writers online, and then launches into a fascinating history, a true media archeological dig. Beginning with a Gopher site in 1994, the Writing Center moved to its first website in 1995, which was designed by Brad and two grad TAs–who responded to an ad “to develop a new online writing center on the new ‘World Wide Web.’ This will require learning to use something called ‘Hypertext Markup Language (HTML).’” The post goes on with screenshots of the Writing Center’s frames-based site and others, podcasting initiatives, and then recursively features Another Word’s launch in 2009. This post drew on collective memory, the WayBack Machine, published scholarship, and even Brad’s datebook from 1995, and was featured on the International Writing Center Association website in 2015. As this post shows, Brad Hughes has been a pioneer in online writing center innovation for over 20 years, and under his direction, the UW-Madison Writing Center is still one of the most robust and creative users of digital technology to support the teaching of writing.

Below, we will highlight a few more of our favorite posts from seven years of Another Word:

● Glenn Hutchinson and Paula Gillespie’s piece on writing centers as sites of activist work, “Mindsets and Partnership: University and High School Writing Centers” is inspiring as a model example of how writing center research and practice can affect local communities in such positive ways. (Alice Daer)
“How to Talk with a Student Who Isn’t There”  is helpful in trainings for instructors in our first-year writing program for the past two years. (UW-Madison)
● Deborah Brandt’s “What’s the Harm in Blogging” unravels complexities and risk in public writing, specifically in blogging (“blogs foreground the difficulty of separating the private individual from the corporate body—a difficulty inherent in nearly any kind of public, published writing.”)
● Mike Shapiro’s “The Social Center: Why Writing Centers Need Twitter” argues that a writing center’s use of Twitter must go beyond simply providing information to students regarding things such as appointment openings. Instead, Twitter can be used to engage with libraries, departments, and programs on campus as well as other writing centers. More importantly, however, Twitter can be used to build “genuine interactions with students” and “start conversations with them about their writing.”

We thank you for your consideration of Another Word as a valuable contribution to online public scholarship in writing.

Respectfully,
University of Wisconsin-Madison Writing Center friends and family

Annette Vee
Assistant Professor of English
University of Pittsburgh

Kate Vieira
Assistant Professor of English
University of Wisconsin, Madison

Tisha Turk
Associate Professor of English
Writing Center Director
University of Minnesota, Morris

Mary Lou Odom
Associate Professor of English
Director, KSU Writing Center and CHSS Writing Across the Curriculum
Kennesaw State University

John Duffy
Associate Professor of English
Francis O’Malley Director of the University Writing Program
University of Notre Dame

Mary Fiorenza
Associate Faculty Associate, English Department
Associate Director, English 100 Program
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Rebecca Lorimer Leonard
Director, UMass Amherst Writing Center
Assistant Professor, English Department
University of Massachusetts Amherst

Kirsten Jamsen
Director, Center for Writing
University of Minnesota – Twin Cities

Rachel Azima
Director, UNL Writing Center
Assistant Professor of Practice, English
University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Alice Daer, Ph.D.
Digital Content Strategist
Tempe, Arizona

Michael LeMahieu
Associate Professor, Department of English
Director, Pearce Center for Professional Communication
Clemson University

Rebecca Entel
Associate Professor of English and Creative Writing
Chair, Writing Program Committee
Director, Center for the Literary Arts
Cornell College

Stephanie Kerschbaum
Associate Professor of English
University of Delaware

Jessica Citti
Writing Skills Specialist
Writing Studio Coordinator
Humboldt State University
Arcata, CA

Christine R.G. Stephenson
Lecturer, College of Engineering
Engineering Professional Development: Technical Communication
University of Wisconsin–Madison

Beth Godbee
Assistant Professor of English
Marquette University
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Matthew Capdevielle
Director, University Writing Center
Associate Professor of the Practice, University Writing Program
University of Notre Dame

Michele Eodice
Associate Provost for Academic Engagement
Director of the OU Writing Center
University of Oklahoma

Melissa Tedrowe
Wisconsin State Director
The Humane Society of the United States

Michelle Sizemore
Assistant Professor of English
University of Kentucky

David Grant
Associate Professor
Department of Languages and Literatures
University of Northern Iowa

Taryn Lee Okuma
Clinical Assistant Professor of English
Director of the Writing Center Undergraduate Tutor Program
The Catholic University of America

Rebecca Nowacek
Associate Professor
Director of the Norman H. Ott Memorial Writing Center
Marquette University

Julie Nelson Christof
Professor of English
University of Puget Sound

Mary Juzwik
Professor, Department of Teacher Education
Michigan State University

Adam Koehler
Associate Professor, English
Manhattan College

Bonnie Smith Whitehouse
Associate Professor of English
Belmont University

Christa Tiernan
Director, Writing and Media Center
Iowa State University

Nancy Linh Karls
Senior Instructor & Science Writing Specialist
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Danielle Warthen
PhD Candidate in English
University of Wisconsin-Madison

John Bradley
Assistant Director of Writing Studio
Vanderbilt University

Katie Lynch
Assistant Professor of English
Rockland Community College, SUNY

John Drake
English / Communication Department
Madison Area Technical College

Rik Hunter
Assistant Professor of English
University of Tennessee-Chattanooga

Cydney Alexis
Assistant Professor and Director of the Writing Center
Kansas State University

Paula Gillespie
Director of the Center for Writing Excellence
Florida International University

Alex Block
Lecturer, Merritt Writing Program
University of California, Merced

Chrissy Stephenson
Lecturer, College of Engineering
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Clara Burke
Assistant Teaching Professor, Business Management Communication
Carnegie Mellon University

 

*A special thanks to Professor Karl Stolley, Illinois Institute of Technology, for sharing the Kairos logo for the featured image for this post.

2 thoughts on “Our Blog Receives the John Lovas Award from Kairos!

  1. Hurrah! Well deserved! Many thanks to Kate and Annette for writing the nominating letter and rounding up the rest of us to co-sign — and to Brad for being awesome, all the time, in ways that no letter could fully express. <3

  2. Huzzah! Thank you for sharing this nomination letter, Brad. It’s wonderful to see in the list of co-signers the vast reach of the UW-Madison Writing Center’s community of friends and alumni. Reading, writing for, and commenting on the blog has been an increasingly influential part of my identity as a writing center tutor and an important face-to-face conversation-starter; I’m happy to see the blog being recognized for its outstanding community-building work!

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