Downes on writing essays

I’m sitting at my desk in my office at home, trying to decide how to approach a writing assignment I promised to do a long time ago. It came about as an invitation from the Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology to provide a response and commentary to a recent meta analysis by the Bernard and Abrami team at Concordia University. I’m perplexed because I not only like these people and respect their work, but I’m also not sure what to do in the “commentary.” What can I offer the readers that will make any sense or provide anything fresh or novel? To make matters worse, there are others providing commentary who are far more accomplished and expert than I am, so I don’t want to come off looking like a jerk.

Along comes Stephen Downes with some timely advice about how to write essays quickly and expertly. He breaks the process down into some really simple, easy and useful sets of decsions and steps. I feel better now, even though I still have a commentary to write. Writing — organized, meaningful, purposeful writing — is something my students struggle with too. Maybe we can all learn something from Stephen (who I sometimes wonder isn’t really Stephen King in a David Crosby disguise, given how prolific a writer he is). Many thanks for this help, Stephen.

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