Technological Ecologies and Sustainability
Edited by Dànielle Nicole DeVoss, Heidi A. McKee, and Richard (Dickie) Selfe

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Introduction to Section II
“Sustaining Writing Programs”

Dànielle Nicole DeVoss


In his Philosophy of Writing Program Administration, Bill Wolff argued that “a writing program’s primary goal is to develop critical writers, thinkers, researchers—and, now, more often than not, critical users of technology.”

Ken McAllister and Cindy Selfe, in a chapter in The WPA Resource, persuasively described the ways in which WPAs can help program stakeholders to examine programmatic and pedagogical goals as they make decisions about technology.

They posed fine-grained questions, like:

  • What is the saturation level of computers and computer support in a community?
  • Is access to computers genuine or theoretical for teachers and students?
  • Is existing computer equipment sufficient and appropriate for the particular activities of composing and communicating?
  • Is existing equipment adequate to meet the other curricular needs of the writing program?

And they also suggest a set of ways in which technology integration can be fostered within a program, like:

  • providing release time to instructors in exchange for hosting workshops on computer-based instruction
  • accessing campus resources, including workshops, facilities, and support for the writing program
  • hiring an instructional computing specialist
  • providing funds for off-site technology workshops and training


As most of us know—and as the work of Wolff, McAllister, and Selfe well-describes—the work of a writing program administrator is complex. Hiring, staffing, and scheduling—20 courses a semester, for some of us, and 200 courses for others; coordinating within and beyond our units, departments, and colleges; providing professional development for our faculty; developing curriculum; assessing and evaluating the work of our students and our faculty; budgeting; report writing; developing web content; producing publicity materials; grand visioning; logistics juggling; and much, much, much more are our daily tasks.

Sustaining digital work in a writing program is no longer an “added-on” activity; it is crucial to any technological ecology and every writing program, and impacts each of the tasks in that long list.

The work of WPAs maybe hasn’t expanded, but it has spread with digital tools. We think about social networking tools as spaces for professional development, networking, and connecting building. We navigate instructional technology systems and staff at our institutions to ensure our technological needs are met. We work with faculty and graduate students to address their technology needs—which can span from access to a laptop to large-scale professional development efforts.


In this section, “Sustaining Writing Programs,” authors speak from writing program administrator, faculty, researcher, and programmatic perspectives on the fostering, developing, and sustaining of technoecologies.

Michael Day offers a view of the complexities of sustaining digitally integrated first-year composition programs and the role that a writing program administrator has in that process.

Patty Ericsson proposes a framework for analysis and action, anchored by her experiences developing a new, interdisciplinary degree program in digital technology and culture.

Beth Brunk-Chavez and Shawn Miller imagine new institutional structures and the support components that might help encourage the adoption of their Hybrid Academy professional technological development model across departments at—and in spaces beyond—their institution.

Writing from a community college context, Kip Strasma borrows from an environmental assessment tool and shows us how that tool can be used to guide the development and sustainability of first-year technoliteracy programs.

Finally, Jude Edminster, Andrew Mara, and Kris Blair address the enormous pressure graduate students and faculty committed to new tools and technologies are putting on their institutions, especially where electronic thesis and dissertation projects are concerned.

These authors provide a set of scenarios, tools, and frameworks nimble enough to span different institutional contexts and types of WPA work. There is considerable and impressive work available on writing program administration. We hope this section offers what doesn’t currently exist in our scholarly landscape—a specific focus on the ways in which WPAs can negotiate and foster healthy technoecologies.

ISBN: 978-0-87421-749-0

Copyright © 2009

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