The International Long Night Against Procrastination

Optional Abstract: 

The Long Night Against Procrastination is an international event promoted by university writing centers. Students in different writing centers spend the same night writing their academic papers in a productive and supportive environment. Social media is used to communicate amongst organisators as well as amongst students worldwide. They connect using twitter walls as well as skype conferences and blogs. The event brought enormous publicity for the idea of writing centers and the problems of procrastination. It shows students and the public that academic writing can be managed if students get support and come together in a community of writers.

Intro
In 2010 a student at the writing center at European University Viadrina in Frankfurt (Oder), Germany, expressed: ‘Actually, I would need you to offer tutoring sessions in writing all night long'. A few months later, the Writing center of the European University founded the Long Night Against Procrastination (LNAP). We opened our door from dusk till dawn for students. They could spend the whole night to write their papers, participate in one-on-one tutoring sessions and talk and think about their writings projects. We provided a snack bar with fresh fruit and coffee and tea. Students could also bring sleeping bags to rest in a quiet area. Tutors organized events such as night walks or desk yoga to help the minds keep awake.

The event created enormous publicity. We therefore decided to expand it. In 2011 six more German writing centers opened their doors for students at the same night. In 2012 the idea had already become a transatlantic event: 2000 students at 13 German and 2 US writing centers experienced the social aspect of writing and got support in peer-tutoring sessions, workshops, creative breaks and focused writing time.

If the growing of the event continues like this, in a few years thousands of students worldwide could celebrate their fight against procrastination together. The Long Night has the potential to become a global movement that connects universities sharing one vision: Supporting students in academic writing. We strongly believe this event will become an important movement. It will make the society and the education system aware of the need of professional and institutionalized writing support for students at schools and universities.

Needs of target groups
Writing, as a tool of communication, thinking, development and creativity, is most important in academia and sciences. Writing centers are institutions where writers come together to optimize their writing skills through individual conversations, workshops and writing groups. They learn to use writing as a powerful way of communication and critical thinking. Writing centers also conduct research to optimize concepts for writing support. Nevertheless, in Germany most students have to struggle alone with their writing processes. Whereas US- American universities have established writing centers at 90% of their universities, in Germany only a few universities established writing centers so far. The German education system and society seem to rarely understand the need for writing centers, which therefore struggle to receive financial support.
LNAP serves the purpose of making writing centers more visible within and outside the institutions. Writing centers and the needs of students are discussed in public since LNAP takes place.

Objectives
The main objective of LNAP is to raise awareness for the important work of writing centers. The event serves as a marketing tool for significant educational institutions.
We also want to point out problems caused by procrastination and a lack of support. Students do not have to struggle alone if there is qualified staff at the writing centers.

Another crucial part of LNAP is the idea of fostering a community of writers. Collaboration makes the process of writing more productive. Students have the chance to talk with professionally trained tutors about their process of writing. This enables them to address their specific needs and questions. They also get the opportunity to exchange ideas and experiences with fellow students. The unique situation of many students writing together at the same time worldwide influences everyone in a positive way, especially those who usually lack motivation or feel insecure. Students experience that talking and thinking about writing is professional and should be part of university life.

Furthermore, the event fosters cooperation among writing centers within Germany and the US and possibly world-wide. Activities are being planned and coordinated through a common blog, a twitter wall and social websites. New organizations are invited to join the consortium. The future goal is to create a global movement.

Reporting and evaluation of the impact of the initiative;
The event started in 2010 at the Writing Center at the European Viadrina and grew continuously. Therefore we conclude LNAP is successful and we believe next year even more European and Overseas writing centers will participate. Every writing center was counting the participants (2000 in 2012), but we did not develop an official counting system yet.
The attention LNAP raised in the important German media was enormous. The major German newspapers (“ZEIT”, “FAZ”, “Spiegel”, “Bild”) where reporting about the event. Important radio channels (“Deutschland Radio”, “Deutsche Welle” etc.) and TV channels (“ARD, “RBB”) where reporting. Google.de provides 95.400 hits about “Die Lange Nacht der aufgeschobenen Hausarbeiten”.

Evidence of creativity and originality, including innovative ways of measuring impact
We were overwhelmed by the great feedback not only from students but also from other writing centers, academic staff and journalists from all over Germany. Obviously, the event is touching the interests and needs of students, universities, schools and society. It connects writing centers and universities internationally because of its uniqueness, its creativity and power.
Our ways of communicating are flexible and modern. Beneath e-mail communication we use the Web 2.0 (twitter, blogging, skypeconferences, etc.) to spread and discuss the idea of LNAP. Everybody has the possibility to share information and participate in the event. For the future, we are planning to create an internet platform to foster the international collaboration and give participants the chance to discuss their papers with fellows at other universities. This will also help to spread information and collect direct feedback. We are looking forward to evaluating the event and the student’s needs, questions and hopes more efficiently in future.

Evidence of sustainability for future use by your own institution or by others
The writing centers community will continue to organize the event every year. We are going to invite more international writing centers to participate. The structure is efficient. Every writing center is planning their LNAP individually but the date and the necessity to provide writing support are set. Beneath our common idea our strength is our communication via web2.0.

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