Message to ODU Faculty

Dear faculty,

The ODU Writes a Book project begins next week, on Tuesday, 2/11, and I’m writing you now to remind you about it in time so that you’ve still got an opportunity to mention it to your students in class if you’re on either a TR or MWF schedule.

We’ll have a project launch event at 12:30 on Tuesday in the Learning Commons, and then writing will commence. Participants will be able to start their own chapters in new documents on the Google Drive, or simply jump into chapters already in progress. Contributions may be scholarly, informal, or creative writing—or video, photoessays, spoken word performance, or any other sort of engagement with the theme, “You are (w)here: How knowledge is related to virtual and physical place.” We’ll wrap up writing 24 hours later at 1:00 on Wednesday, 2/12, and then we’ll have a closing event, in which we’ll present some of the results and reflect on the experiment, at 12:30 on Thursday, 2/13.

We’re very excited about the event, and hope that you can help drum up further interest, excitement, and involvement by presenting it to your students, and possibly mentioning the theme’s relevance to your course or your field. We understand WVEC will be coming by to film the launch, that the event will be up on the front page of odu.edu shortly, and that President Broderick will be speaking at the closing event on Thursday. This is a unique experiment and, if successful, may be of national or international interest.

Thanks for your interest and support. We hope to see great turnout from students—but we hope that faculty members will be well represented as well. Please consider whether you’ll be able to make some time during these 24 hours to drop in physically or virtually, see what’s going on, and contribute!

Best,

Dylan Wittkower

Project Updates

Recently, an ODU student inquired, “Why is this event so important to ODU?” Dr. Dylan Wittkower, one of the project coordinators and participants responded:

Our educational environment today is excessively assessment-driven—most notably, in the testing culture exemplified by No Child Left Behind. We have reduced the scope of what counts as “learning” to what is empirically verifiable through standardized assessment, and the meaning and value of education has been greatly impoverished thereby. This is an important project for our University, and for our educational culture as a nation, because it represents a conscious and conscientious break with this pattern and the version of “learning” that it implies. We intend to come together as a community and write and edit as a community, and, in so doing, to recapture the idea that writing and scholarship are about an interchange of ideas and a concretization of experience into knowledge—not about memorization, hierarchical authority, cramming and recall, or performing rigid tasks to pre-set standards. This is an important project because it aims to create a pop-up community of knowledge creators that keeps faith with the fundamental goals of education as discovery–discovery of ourselves, of each other, and of the world–conducted among parters in knowing.