Crow at Computers & Writing 2019

From June 20–22, our Crowbirds flocked to East Lansing for this year’s Computers & Writing conference hosted at Michigan State University by a team including Crow PI Bill Hart-Davidson.

Shelley Staples and graduate student Jeroen Gevers, both from the University of Arizona, presented on multimodal and multilingual composing in FYW courses by using data from Crow corpora. Dr. Staples and Gevers discussed a multimodal multilingual remediation project in ENGL 108, the last L2 writing course in the Foundations Writing sequence at UA. They shared their methods for coding multimodal assignments, which include the use of images, text, emojis, and more, and voiced the challenges they encountered in standardizing codes. They ended with a discussion, seeking recommendations for alternative practices that require less time and less intensive labor.

Bradley Dilger, Mark Fullmer, Emily Jones, Hadi Banat, and Michelle McMullin conducted a workshop to introduce the Crow platform and its various uses to the C&W audience. Participants explored multiple features of the platform and reflected on its potential uses for their own research and writing courses. After undergraduate researcher Jones introduced the Crow project and design practices, our brilliant developer Fullmer discussed the nitty-gritty technical aspects of building and maintaining the interface. Afterwards, Dr. Dilger and Banat led a guided tour of our web interface. Dr. McMullin assisted by answering queries during our extensive individual work time. Finally, participants reported on their experience interacting with the interface and reflected on ways to utilize this resource in their own institutional contexts.

Emily Jones introduces the Crow platform, with Mark Fullmer in the background via videoconference.
Emily Jones introduces the Crow platform, with Mark Fullmer in the background via videoconference.

Dilger, Banat, and McMullin collaborated with the “Building Healthcare Collectives Team” on a roundtable which focused on research projects funded by Humanities Without Walls, and the outcomes of utilizing digital spaces and tools to build infrastructures necessary for successful collaboration among researchers and across institutions. Dr. Dilger discussed the models Crow PIs use for team building, and how Crow leaders developed collaborative writing practices, balanced individuals’ needs, and maximized professional development and team productivity. Dr. Dilger called for action, commenting on the responsibility of faculty to mentor graduate students on the skills they need to build research agendas, enter the job market, and pursue their prospective careers.

Dr. McMullin discussed the need to make teams a site for research, by interrogating practices within a collaborative community. Relying on her Crow experiences, she presented recommendations and practical tips that teams can use to create digital infrastructures and develop best practices which honor both accountability and flexibility.

Banat, Crow’s rising fifth year PhD candidate and a 2019–2020 Purdue Research Foundation Fellow, focused on performing interdisciplinarity through the transfer of research, team building, collaboration, and grant writing practices from Crow to the Transculturation in FYW research project. He highlighted the value of involvement in research teams for knowledge construction and expertise development. In his lightning talk, he outlined Crow’s grant writing strategy in detail, inviting the audience to use the same guidelines and practices at their own institutions. He emphasized the value of mentoring that research participation provides, drawing comparisons between the Humanities Lab Practicum which was a common part of our HWW projects, and the engineering research lab model. Despite the fact that this was one of the conference’s final sessions, the roundtable ended with lively conversation surrounding best practices for grant writing and team building.

As at every conference, the Crow team found time to make new friends and socialize with scholars from other institutions who are pursuing brilliant projects. Crow conference experiences are holistic and comprehensive, as we use this opportunity to reflect on our experiences and learn from them.

Afterglow at the Hart-Davidson compound
Afterglow at the Hart-Davidson compound

The dormitory accommodation was a unique experience, as our Crowbirds are used to staying in nearby hotels. The communal living made conversations with scholars, colleagues, and peers easier and smoother. We also enjoyed after-conference socials at East Lansing breweries, where we discussed types of beer, future Crow projects, and prospective career plans for Crow’s graduating students. At the end of the conference, co-host Bill Hart-Davidson invited us and other attendees to his house for snacks, laughs, and lively conversation. The real fun started when a group of conference presenters enthusiastically formed a band and played some (loud) jams. Before heading back to West Lafayette, we enjoyed a delicious vegan brunch at People’s Kitchen and reflected on our third (and hopefully not last!) time presenting at the C&W conference.

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