Establishing a Writing Practice Remotely: A WhatsApp Course for Academics

Conference: The European Conference on Education (ECE2022)
Title: Establishing a Writing Practice Remotely: A WhatsApp Course for Academics
Stream: Nurturing Creativity & Innovation: New, Innovative & Radical Education
Presentation Type: Oral Presentation
Moyra Keane, University of Johannesburg, South Africa


In many universities, there are numerous writing courses, workshops, resources and writing centres for academics. Some of these were disrupted by the Covid pandemic. A positive outcome has been moving beyond Emergency Remote Teaching to innovative pedagogical alternative that continue to be effective moving forward. A WhatsApp Writing intervention has provided a new way for research writers to make progress on their writing. This study describes and reports on a 10-day WhatsApp course that is designed to connect group members, increase accountability, address obstacles to writing and develop the identity of the writer. The format addresses issues of access and zoom fatigue. The theoretical basis of the design draws from mindfulness, coaching and research into academic writing. The course was run for between 10 and 40 participants in 16 separate courses. Participants include supervisors, postgraduate students, as well as creative writers across South Africa and internationally. I analyse and share some of the posts from participants on what makes writing difficult, their writing blocks, as well as their perceptions (and changing perceptions) of themselves as writers. Personal perspectives from writers show up three main common concerns of confidence, distractions, and focus. The posts also highlight the individual sense writers have of their identity. The course format could serve as a model for similar curricula design interventions.

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