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Greetings from the Xchanges editorial staff! We're excited to present this latest issue of Xchanges. We feature here four articles by graduate student scholars from across the United States. The issues confronted by these researchers reflect current areas of study within the broad expanse of Writing Studies fields: audience analysis within religious organizations’ social media outreach, writing centers’ adoption of assistive technology (AT) approaches, rhetorical and usability-related concerns associated with the use of geodemographic data in smart phone social media posting, and the limitations of “easy” ready-made web-design templates and their capacity to constrain users’ agency. As the foregoing list conveys, the topics covered in this issue of Xchanges point to many new directions within Writing Studies, as scholars are increasingly concerned with empowering users through various technologies – whether these users are visitors to a writing center, individuals posting personal information to a social media site, job-seekers designing a first website, or church-based groups striving to reach out online with the goal building communities of faith.
The graduate-student scholars published in this issue are MA- and Ph.D.-level researchers from an array of institutions: University of Minnesota in Twin Cities (Jason Tham), University of Central Florida (Jennifer Roth Miller and Celina Yebba), and Bowling Green State University (Maggie Collins). Yebba’s essay, "Digital Media Strategies in a 21st Century Church," examines the social media strategies, and their efficacy and potential for growth, of two religious organizations, the LDS church (Mormon.org) and CatholicsComeHome (catholicscomehome.org). Jennifer Roth Miller, in her essay "Multiliteracies for Inclusive Technologies: A Case Study on Location-Based Services and Domestic Violence Survivors," closely scrutinizes the ways in which geolocation services on smartphones particularly impact victims of domestic violence and how such technologies might be usefully redesigned as a result of rhetorically sensitive design approaches that justly serve the needs of this population. "Rhetorical Web Design: Thinking Critically about Ready-Made Web Templates and the Problem of Ease," by Jason Tham, asks us to question “ease of use” in web templates as they have the potential to limit a (novice) website-creator’s rhetorical agency. Finally, Maggie Collins’s "Assisting Writers with Assistive Technology" asks whether the adoption by writing centers of assistive technologies (AT), or the inclusion of some of these approaches as option within a tutor’s set of resources for visitors to a writing center, might “help writers in a new way.”
We look forward to future issues of Xchanges to build upon the exciting momentum we’ve developed over our fifteen-year history. Thanks to all for your continued support of Xchanges and we are excited for you to read each of the engaging articles in this issue.