Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Writing Centers, Twitter, and the Creepy Treehouse

Image by Lisa Jarvis
This is not our goal. 
As a writing center professional whose educational background is a strange m√©lange of comp/rhet, technical writing, and graphic design, I am frequently our writing center's go-to person for all things tech-related. I am fascinated by emerging media, and I am constantly seeking out new ways to use those media to enhance the Writing Center @ PSU's online presence, and more importantly to enhance our students' experience. Recently, it was decided that our writing center needed a Twitter account, which we would use not only to network with other writing centers, but also to provide our students with a new space in which to interact with us. I knew that there was great potential to reach our target audiences; I also knew that there was great potential to really mess this up. 

The benefits of Twitter seem obvious. One tweet can potentially be seen by the entirety of our audience and quickly passed along. As I went through the process of creating our Twitter account, I visualized tweets about events in the Writing Center being retweeted from student to student, links to our scheduling system being disseminated across campus via the smartphones and tablets of the people we most want to reach - students. It was only when I began to actually compose tweets that I realized just how difficult this was going to be. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Writing Center of "Yes"

We are the Writing Center of "yes." Can we send notification of student visits? Certainly. Can we do an in-class workshop on how to write a review of the literature or how to start a research project? We'll be glad to. Can we ... ? Of course. Can we ... ? Absolutely.

This mantra of "yes" is one of the first things Janet Zepernick, Writing Center Director at PSU, taught me after I was hired this summer as Assistant Writing Center Director. For us, yes is about more than making our colleagues happy and pleasing administrators. It's how we put our time and effort where our marketing is. And it's how we live our values--chiefly that support for student writing is among the most important things a university can offer its students. It makes sense for us to be willing to take on new roles because our WC has recently gone through a major overhaul--a new location, new directors, new initiatives, etc.--and, because of that, we're still working to help faculty and students see the new possibilities we offer.