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‘ODU Writes a Book’ Seeks Co-Authors Across Campus for 24-Hour Creative Project

Final preparations are under way for Old Dominion University's one-of-a-kind 24-hour, book-writing flash mob.

On Tuesday, Feb. 11, at 12:30 p.m. in the Learning Commons @ Perry Library, faculty, staff and students will gather to kick off the ODU Writes a Book project.

Over the ensuing 24-hour period, which officially begins at 1 p.m., anyone with an ODU email address can join the process of writing the book: "You are (w)here: how knowledge is related to virtual and physical place."

The ODU Libraries and project organizers will give the official welcome at 12:30, and Big Blue will be on hand to help launch the 24 hours of concentrated creativity.

"Visitors to the Learning Commons throughout the next 24 hours will witness students, faculty and staff collaborating either physically together or separated in virtually creating an e-book. The Learning Commons will be the physical manifestation of the collaboration and excitement occurring virtually in the Google Doc arena," said George Fowler, associate university librarian for information resources and technology and project co-leader.

The "book" can even include multimedia contributions; there will be a presentation area and a sound booth available for use during the 24 hours. It will certainly include social media contributions, through the ODU Writes a Book Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/ODUwritesabook, and a Twitter hashtag (#ODUWritesaBook) created for the event.

The website for the project, http://oduwritesabook.digitalodu.com/, includes a link to the participation form.

The project is open to all faculty, staff and students. On the day that "ODU Writes a Book," instructors are urged to redirect their classes to the event, organizing students around one or more relevant topics, using the event as an innovative and experimental venue for a group assignment.

Following the 24-hour period, a wrap-up program will be held at 12:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 13, in the Learning Commons, featuring ODU President John R. Broderick, where samples of the participants' contributions to the project will be showcased.

The ultimate goal of the project is to produce an actual book, along with online content, that represents ODU's collective creative experience of how knowledge is related to virtual and physical space.

Dylan Wittkower, ODU assistant professor of philosophy and co-leader of the project, said a group of people becomes a community through different ways, "through shared values, shared projects and, very often, through physical proximity and cohabitation, and the compromises and give-and-take demanded by getting along."

Wittkower said shared projects are rare today in academia as research has become increasingly specialized, and the advance of connective technology has made it possible for students to interact less with each other, rather than more.

"By critically investigating the role of the physical and the virtual in education, and by doing so through a shared collaborative writing project that addresses our shared values, we hope to both investigate and invest in the ODU community as a community, to further revitalize this institution as a living-learning community," Wittkower said.

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