Computers and Writing 2008-- Deadline Extended
The deadline for paper, panel, and workshop submissions for Computers & Writing 2008 has been extended to January 24. This year's theme is “Open Source as Technology and Concept,” and we welcome everyone to visit the conference website to learn more about the conference, the Athens area, and to access our online (and open source) proposal and registration system.
We look forward to seeing you in Athens!
The conference CFP is enclosed below for your convenience.
In 2006, Blackboard purchased WebCT, its closest competitor in the Learning Management System (LMS) market, and also filed a suit against rival Desire 2Learn, Inc. on a controversial claim of patent infringement. In response, at its October meeting Educause issued an open letter urging Blackboard to abandon its suit on the grounds that the suit will stifle collaboration and innovation. Blackboard of course, is not the only closed source LMS out there. D2L, Angel, Turnitin.com, E-College, Criterion, and all kinds of other products populate the educational technology landscape. However, Blackboard's lawsuit and its claims outraged technologists, and more importantly for many of us, heads of campus instructional technology units; that outrage sharply increased interest in the role that can be played by open source technologies and communities in the development of educational computing.
The concurrent growth of open source Learning Management Systems (LMS's) such as Sakai, Moodle, and Open Source Portfolio will not, in and of themselves, necessarily replace or change the reigning corporate and/or campus bureaucratic models for educational technology exemplified by Blackboard purchasing and support. Because something is open source doesn't mean that the open source process and models will automatically promote and enhance the values important to the Computers and Writing community and to composition pedagogy in general.
Ideally, open source development, as both a technology and a concept, is grounded in values of collaboration, interaction, and respect for the user; these same values have also informed writing pedagogy of the process and post-process eras. There is, therefore, an important and enduring connection between the values that inform open-source technology and composition pedagogy. That connection, nonetheless, doesn't matter if it isn't enacted. For our values to find a place, we need to define them, assert them, and to ask for them to be designed into the architectures, interfaces, and features of both open and closed source products. We need in short to be users, designers, critics, and philosophers of online learning systems, both open and closed.
We invite papers that go beyond the easy claim that because open source is open, it is necessarily good and better, or automatically in-line with writing practice and pedagogy. Instead, we hope to look at what we must do to make the open source possibility a reality in light of our understandings on the philosophy, ethics, and politics of using writing technologies within the academy and other workplaces. We encourage participants to range beyond the narrowest definition of "open source" to explore the values and practices collaborative ventures can promote when we also work with or influence developers of closed source systems. In other words, what can we learn and use from open source possibilities and practices to change our relationship to, and the design and implementation of, closed source and for profit systems.
Papers may want to consider one or more of the following topics:
What are the differences in how we can use open source technologies to influence pedagogy as compared to how we might use proprietary technologies to do the same?
We know that open source models open up new spaces for writing and collaboration, but how do these models work on an institutional level or programmatic level? What are best open source practices? How are decisions made? How are things made?
How have open source technologies changed, maintained, and/or complicated our understanding of the relationship between ownership and authorship?
What do you do if you do no not have the resources, time, access or means to use open source technologies instead of proprietary technologies on your campus? How do you make what you have to use, work for you?
What has been the influence of such powerful proprietary technologies as Blackboard on Rhetoric and Composition as a discipline?
Considering the trend toward portfolio-based evaluation in composition pedagogy, is the widespread adoption of Course Management Systems inevitable?
Not all proprietary vendors and designers are the same. Many, for example, will adapt innovations created by open source projects into their own systems. Others will customize their product to meet particular department or institutional needs, often in a process that is as collaborative on some levels as one might find in the open source model. Given that, what influence can open source have on closed source?
What are the virtues of pedagogical bricolage, using the systems and materials at hand in any given institution?
What are some best practices for incorporating open source technologies in the classroom? Which open source technologies might be/have been appropriated for classroom use? How well do they work?
What are the practical and political implications of adopting open source at the programmatic or institutional level?
How do the philosophies behind open source technologies, as well the technologies themselves, encourage process-oriented writing practices?
What do Learning Management Systems offer that more traditional teaching tools do not? What are the limitations of these systems?
What opportunities does open source offer for putting development into the hands of educators, enabling writing pedagogies to drive development?
In keeping with this year's theme, the University of Georgia and the organizers of Computers and Writing 2008 have made a commitment to support open source technology. Towards that end, and in order to streamline the submission process, we will be using the open-source writing environment to collect proposals and disseminate information about the conference. In addition to accepting electronic submissions in more traditional proprietary formats such as Microsoft Word (.doc) and Adobe Portable Document Format, we are encouraging all potential conference participants to consider using OpenOffice (Windows) or NeoOffice (MacOSX) and to submit proposals as Open Document Text (.odt) files.
We will be accepting proposals beginning December 3, 2007; the deadline for submissions is January 24, 2008 at 11: 59 pm EST.