Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Week 6: Purdue OWL

The Purdue OWL is an invaluable resource to scholars and students around the world. I would argue that when the Writing Lab went online in 1995, it put writing centers on the international map. While many people still aren't familiar with writing centers, if anyone has Googled information about MLA or APA (or even Chicago style) citations, the Purdue OWL probably came up in the search results. According to its webpage, Giving to the Purdue Writing Lab, it "received in excess of 128,000,000 visits from people last year." That is an incredible number and should be evidence enough to convince higher ed administrators nationwide to fund writing centers on their own campuses.

The work of those creating and updating pages for the Purdue OWL cannot be appreciated enough. Harry Denny, the current director, just posted to a listserv recently that the OWL now has a Research section of its site. The goal of this section is to share research conducted about the Purdue OWL, such as the number of tutoring appointments they receive, as well as a usability report produced by former PhD students. This work is imperative for the ethos of the OWL and its administration, as Doug Hesse would call it. The OWL is setting an example that should be heeded by writing center administrators nationwide: sharing research to increase visibility of the writing center and producing empirical research that demonstrates its benefits to a wider audience.

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