Spring Semester, 2009.
MWF 9:30 am-10:20 am
Office EDUC 209
announced in class.
This course introduces you to principles and methods
of technical writing and provides you with skills that improve your ability
to communicate through a variety of technical documents. We will examine a
number of writing and design principles and learn a variety of technical
genres. The aims of this course include your ability to:
• learn technical writing principles and methods by reading
and discussing the textbook;
• critically read technical documents via analysis of sample documents;
• learn a variety of technical genres by engaging in the production and
analysis of technical
• hone your writing skills by utilizing various strategies
in various stages of the writing process; and
• become comfortable with a wide
variety of online tools for producing and delivering your technical writing.
We will be discussing the significance of other topics as well, including technology,
the World Wide Web, visual and media rhetoric, and other areas of interest that you
Though this is not a theory driven course, we will be
theorizing production, primarily through in-class discussion and exercises
derived from simulations or “cases” provided by the textbook and real-world Web
Texts & Materials
Communication Handbook, by Laura J. Gurak and Mary E. Hocks.
A Facebook account.
A utminers.utep.edu personal webspace.
Class Activities (15%) includes
poster presentations (two per person during the semester), graded exercises, graded online postings; conferences; attendance;
collective work; in-class participation; and other in- and out-of-class exercises.
Web Analysis (10%)
Working as a team, you will write a short analysis of a
professional or technical website related to your major or professional
field as a system
Project TRIM: Instruction
(including Usabs1ity-Testing and Progress Report)
(50%) You will write a set of instructions for a complex activity or
software related to your major, test
those instructions in the real world, make corrections as required, and post a web-ready version.
Memoranda (15%) You will provide an introductory memo and 3
“assessment” memos with your instructions, progress report, and research
(10%) Using the tools you have learned in this class, you will
carefully analyze as a technical document a technically-oriented program
broadcast on the University's FM radio station.
An online assignment page will be provided
for each project. Assigned methods of delivery differ for each assignment,
and assignments posted or delivered in an incorrect or untimely manner will
Grading & Policies
or your projects will be assessed by how well
you complete the assignment and the general quality of your writing. Final
grades will be determined using the 100 pt. scale
with conversions from the percentages as
A 90-100 pts.
There will be
no "plus" or "minus" letter grades in this course.
In addition, the following policies will be
• You must complete
all the major assignments to pass the course. These are:
and Web Portfolio
policy: Students will be requested to rewrite assignments that are
not of acceptable quality. Requested rewrites are due within 5
calendar days of request. No late or rewrite penalty will be
assessed on timely rewrites. Rewrites are an important part of the
instructional process, so there is no option to decline a rewrite.
Requested rewrites not completed with five days fall to a "zero"
(not an "F"). Students are also encouraged to rewrite and improve
any work in their E-Portfolio at any time before May 1.
Late assignments will be downgraded one letter grade per
calendar day late.
• "Contempt" Penalties
of seven points or more may be deducted from a student's total grade for refusal to participate (refusal to
complete daily assignments, coming to class clearly unprepared, refusal to
answer questions in class), or other acts
or behaviors which are, in the instructor's sole judgment, antithetical to the learning process.
Such penalties should be extremely rare, and a student will normally be offered an opportunity to "show cause" before any such penalty is applied.
• Save early, save often, save in multiple places. Losing material
of computer crashes, disk problems, theft or loss of a laptop or storage medium, etc. is never an excuse for late or
reserves the right to provide advisory grades only on daily
practice exercises, or to grade any assignment
(other than major assignments listed above) on a pass-fail basis. Any such
grading will be applied to all students.
reserves the right to award extra credit points for work that is clearly above
course-level or demonstrating extraordinary merit. This sort of extra credit
should be extremely rare, is completely discretionary, and may not be
requested by the student. Significant extra credit may also be available at
Instructor discretion for students' scholarly, technical or professional
writing which is published or accepted for publication during the regular semester in an edited
hardcopy book, journal, periodical or publication available to the public or
professionals, or for student writing published on an edited professional or
technical website related to the student's major. Limitations apply: contact Instructor for
details. No extra credit will be available after May 1, 2009.
"incomplete" grades will be issued for the course except in documented
emergency cases, here defined as unexpected situations endangering the life,
health or property of the student or immediate family. Except for in
emergency cases, no credit will be offered for any work turned in or posted
after the end of the last regular class session.
Attendance is mandatory (simple,
isn’t it?). University policy requires that you attend every class. That also means you need to
prepare for and participate in class
activities regularly and substantively. Your online “activity” with course materials
will be tracked, and you will be sent warnings if you are not actively engaged
on a weekly basis. Online work will take a variety of forms, including Wiki,
social networking and online course utilities. You are required to remain
current in your work: if you miss more than two weeks of class (six
absences) or fall more than
two weeks behind on regular online postings, you will be considered to have
abandoned the course and may be involuntarily dropped or will fail the
You are expected to produce high
quality, sophisticated documents. A part of that quality is the appearance of
your work. Neatness, visual appeal, and mechanical and grammatical correctness
do matter— though they’ do not by themselves guarantee that a document is well
made. Your out-of-class assignments should be composed in a high quality form.
Your documents should have appropriate type face, spacing
and formatting. Your productions in digital media should he well designed and
highly professional in appearance, and must strictly adhere to UTEP web
standards and regulations. Class-related web pages must use white or pastel
background only, may not include imbedded "play on opening" audio or video
clips, and should generally resemble professional, corporate, agency or
university homepages, not MySpace personal homepages.
Hardcopy documents should adhere to APA Style
to change with advance notice)
You are expected to read all
materials by the assigned date and participate in class discussion and poster
presentations. You will
find the “reading load” to be manageable as long as you give it due attention.
Please reserve nine hours every week outside of classroom hours to
complete all homework and course-related tasks. If you do not do so, you
may reasonably expect to fall behind or to fail the course.
otherwise specified, all due dates are by the beginning of class on the day
Read up to
page 14 in
Delivery. McGraw & Hubbard's Principles.
Exercise I: Exploring Real Technical Rhetoric in your own major or profession.
Week 2: 1/26-30/09
Turn in results of exercise 1.
Audience and Purpose Assessment
Content Management Systems
Exercise 2: Explore Creative Commons Copyright info.
. Discuss the question of "Intellectual Property" in technical writing:
Week 3: 2/2-6/09
Exercise 2 results due.
Read pages 76-77 in Textbook.
Ethics (pages 17-20, 402, and 412-414 in Textbook)
Copyright and Intellectual Property (396-7)
Plagiarism (p. 429-432 in Textbook)
Intro Usability and User Testing (Instructions)
Read pages 438-443 in Textbook.
Intro: Focus Groups: Project TRIM & Collaboratory. Read p. 49 of Textbook. Read page 406 of Textbook.
Exercise 3: Prepare a subject proposal for your TRIM project, including a SWOT analysis of your project.
Week 4: 2/9-13/09
Exercise 3 due.
Read pages 15-23 and 30-32 in Textbook.
The "Who Cares?" test.
Week 5: 2/16-20/09
Technical Rhetoric: Read pages 24-43 in Textbook.
Stages in the Writing Process
Style Sheets and Templates
Exercise 4 Analyze Secret Work as a technical document (instructions), based on pps. 76-77 of textbook.
Week 6: 2/23-27/09
Exercise 4 due.
Read pages 156-216 and 434-435 in Textbook
Intro Usability-Test Progress Report (Instructions)
Other themes to be announced.
Doc Usability Test Design
Week 7: 3/2-6/09
Intro Project assessment memos:
Read pages 120-124 in Textbook.
Read How to Write a Memorandum.
Project management visuals
Read pages 345-346 in Textbook.
Week 8: 3/9-13/09
Due: Usability-test Progress Reports and Project Assessment Memo #1.
Read pages 44-52 and 244-251 in Textbook.
Teamwork and Collaboration
Tools and Technologies
Writing for Regulated Environments
Equality, diversity and workplace writing. Explore GLSEN website and "Coming Out from Behind the Badge."
Exercise 5:(collective report): What is the situation of GLBT persons in your chosen career field?
Intro Web Analysis Project (due Week 14)
SPRING BREAK 3/16-20/09
Week 9: 3/23-27/09
Exercise 5 due.
Intro Proposal Project. Refresher on SWOT analysis.
Read pages 146-155 in Textbook.
Workplace writing. Management / labor / Professional / Occupational communications.
Week 10: 3/30/09-4/3/09
Reread pages 44-47, read pages 53-73 in Textbook.
Technical Document Types
Blogs and Wikis
Email and attachments
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Exercise 6. In your team, research labor writing in your field or profession. Team report due in two weeks.
Week 11: 4/6-8/09
Due: Project TRIM materials.
Read pages 78-119 in Textbook.
Job Search documents
Lab and Field Notebooks
Exercise 7: Prepare your own résumé.
Week 12: 4/13-17/09
Due: Exercise 6 report on labor communication in your field or profession.
Read pages 125-141 of Textbook.
Exercise 8: Prepare a press release about something your team, organization, club, group, church, or other organization is doing. For full credit, send it to the El Paso Times, the Prospector, KTEP-FM, or other appropriate media. (Note that you must have the approval of the organization to actually send the release to the media!)
Week 13: 4/20-24/09
Due: Exercise 8 (Press release).
1. Multimedia: Read pages 329-30 in Textbook
Exercise 9 Complete NLC Open Learning Course: Multimedia this week. Class may take place in computer lab.
Week 14: 4/27/09-5/1/09
Due: Web Analysis Report on a work-related website in your major.
Read pages 142-145, 217-222, and 252-262 in Textbook.
Exercise 10: Read "The Cover Letter," and then prepare a cover letter for your résumé, addressed to your dream-employer.
Week 15: 5/4-7/09
Due: Proposal Project and Project Assessment Memo #3.
Wrapup. Student evaluations.