College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
All Spotlights » A Novel Idea--Free Writing Textbook
Charlie Lowe of Writing is co-editor of a new kind of textbook: a free one. "Writing Spaces: Readings on Writing, Volume 1, is a collection of Creative Commons licensed essays for use in the first year writing classroom, all written by writing teachers for students," according to the Creative Common's web site. Charlie explains how this works: "You can download a copy of the text from http://writingspaces.org/volume1. These are essays written by teachers for students. We will have another volume coming out, hopefully by December 2010, and currently have a CFP out for proposals for a 3rd volume. All chapters are/will be released under Creative Commons licenses, so the essays can be downloaded and used for free in any classroom." In these days of stretched student budgets, this approach to publishing will be welcome in the mix. As Charlie points out, "We believe this is a fairly novel open textbook publication process because it is an edited collection that goes through peer review much like a scholarly edited collection or journal (we have an editorial board made up of tenure track faculty in the field), and we believe it is a model that could be adopted in other disciplines. In fact, our publisher is an independent scholarly press, one well-regarded in my discipline, who sells print versions of the text at a low cost: http://parlorpress.com/writingspaces ." And this new approach looks after the faculty involved as well as students' wallets. "Because of the more standard peer review process and recognized publication genre of the edited collection, we believe that we have come up with a model that is more easily evaluated (and hopefully more valued) in tenure and promotion committees in higher ed than textbooks made in wikis or people loading textbook materials to online repositories where there might be some post-production review," Charlie notes. While aimed at teachers of first-year writing, the text may also be of interest to those in other disciplines interested in supporting stronger writing by students in their majors.