The Computers and Writing Teaching Assistant's Alliance is an organization whose time has come. It grew out of the need for community that graduate students in this field--often isolated within and exploited by their departmets--found themselves requiring in order to persevere during their struggles to gain acceptance as both teacher/scholars and technological innovators.
My first exposure to the computers and composition community at large was at the 1995 4Cs covention in Washington DC. The sense of welcome that I felt was overwhelming, and it kept me going all through the following semester as I struggled to produce a thesis on hypertextual collaboration in first-year composition classes at an institution that did not encourage technologically facilitated pedagogy. When I met other graduate students at the first CWTA SIG and heard that they faced similar challenges, I felt that I was not alone, and that's an important function of this group. But the CWTA has evolved from a support group to a more politically active ensemble, now seeking not only to provide community, but to enact change and serve as an advocate for computers and writing TAs.
Certainly TAs (and adjunct faculty) in all fields face similar problems, but the difficulties of the computers and writing TA are compounded by the entrenched (although sometimes quite subtle) resistance to technology that continues at many institutions of higher learning--particularly in humanities departments. And although we often feel (and sometimes identify ourselves as) the marginalized of the margin, we do have a great community of scholars and teachers from whom we may seek guidance and assistance. As Judy Williamson, founder of the CWTA, acknowledges in her interview with Cindy Wambeam, the idea for a computers and writing teaching assistant (and mentor) SIG was prompted by members of that community.
This year, the CWTA has gathered enough strength to seek acknowledgement from the larger community of the computers and writing field, but we are still in our infancy. In order to gain recruits, Judy sent out an announcement to several computers-and-writing related lists describing the purpose and activities of the CWTA to date. In conjunction with this announcement, the CWTA also held its first open forum moo-dialogue November 14, 1995 at the Tuesday Cafe on MediaMoo.
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