This session was delivered by Nick Robinson, who is one of the coordinators of the Materials Writing SIG (MaW SIG) – at impressively high speed due to technical difficulties taking over the first half of the session!
The aim of the session was to give a short overview of MaW SIG, in terms of why it was set up and what the coordinators hope that members will be able to get out of it. Thus, rather than a “how to” session, it was more of a “why to” session.
So, why was MaW SIG created?
Well, until now, with the creation of MaW SIG, there hasn’t been a special interest group aimed especially at materials writing. (It is important to note the -ing there: materials writING, not writers. It is aimed at anyone who is interested in the process of materials writing. You don’t need to be published, or a big name, in order to be a member of this group. The only essential is interest in the process of materials writing.) However, nearly every English language teacher in the world writes all the time – you may not call yourself a materials writer, but every time you produce a worksheet or a quiz, you are writing materials. Some people do write to be published or to sell their materials, others write materials to share, and others write just for their students to use. The common thread, though, which runs through all of these reasons is the act of writing. MaW SIG wants to bring together a group of people around that thread.
The world of publishing is changing very fast, especially in the past ten years. This creates both a need and an opportunity for people to come together in order to share best practice and ideas and to give advice on how to adapt to this new environment. What MaW SIG provides is a single forum for people to come together and do this, a single forum for the sharing of materials writing knowledge, best practice and continued professional development.
Why should you join MaW SIG?
Publishing is still a who-you-know business, so the connections you make are hugely important. MaW SIG intends to run two conferences a year. In terms of what is forthcoming, the first event will hopefully be held in October, while the second will be a Pre-Conference Event at IATEFL. These events aim to offer you the opportunity to network with established writers, authors, publishers, editors and anyone else who is involved in all the different aspects of materials writing.
This SIG is all about professional development and training, so therefore the stand-alone conferences (like the one planned for October) will be very hands-on. This will help you learn to write better and best practice will be promoted; it is an opportunity to learn from experts in the field.
MaW SIG also has an active Facebook page, through which you can access people who have been doing materials writing for a long time. There is a lot of knowledge out there, which can be shared and this page aims to provide a platform for this.
Finally, if you are interested in getting work published, it is worth remembering that publishers don’t only look at the quality of your materials. They look at a range of other things, like how you interact with the wider ELT community, how interested you are in the field, how active you are in blog-writing and on Twitter, how active you are in attending conferences. Joining and being part of MaW SIG is another way of demonstrating commitment to the field as well as the willingness to learn and develop as much as you can.
How can you join MaW SIG?
You can join by adding MaW SIG to your IATEFL membership, alongside any current SIG membership. (You can also wait until your current SIG membership runs out and replace it with MaW SIG if you so desire!)
You can also join the Facebook page for which you do not need to be a member. (But of course you’ll gain more from the SIG by joining it!)
You can follow the Twitter handle (@MaWSIG) (As above, you do not need to be a member to do this but the same applies in terms of benefits!)
And you are also welcome to email Nick or Byron to ask any questions you might have. (I didn’t catch the email address but I’m sure you can get it via the Facebook page or Twitter!)