A print-friendly version of this syllabus is available on Google Drive.
English 3764 (CRN #71571) covers the principles and procedure of technical communication. This writing-intensive online course focuses attention on analyzing audience and purpose, organizing information, designing graphics, and writing such specialized forms as correspondence, instructions, and proposals. Junior standing is required.
By completing English 3764, you will
- Gain knowledge of technical communication’s rhetorical dimensions.
- Learn to distinguish between effective and ineffective technical documents.
- Write in several technical genres that use analysis, narrative, critique, persuasion, and argument.
- Practice using the conventions of written, spoken, and visual composition.
- Gain an understanding of the role of social media and visual rhetoric in technical communications.
- Write and create texts in digital environments.
- Course Website: http://3764su14.tracigardner.com/
- Markel, Mike. Practical Strategies for Technical Communication. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2013.
- Virginia Tech Career Planning Guide (available online or in print from Career Services on the Blacksburg Campus).
- Additional required and recommended readings and resources available from the course websites.
- A reliable computer with working, dependable Internet access.
- A Google Drive account and Virginia Tech email account.
You must complete all major assignments and requirements in order to pass this course. All work must be submitted online, via Google Docs, the Scholar site, or posted in shared course sites. Your final grade is calculated on this distribution:
|84%||Six major projects (14% each), along with related drafts and other artifacts. These projects (listed below) will focus on different kinds of technical communication. For each major assignment unit, you will be asked to submit preliminary drafts to be discussed online by the whole class, and/or by me. You should plan to revise these assignments extensively before the due date. There are no rewrites or revisions after work is graded.
|16%||Participation, daily course work, and a minimum of 45 online forum posts. You will write for each class session, primarily in the online class forum. These daily forum activities include class discussion of readings and related issues, correspondence, peer feedback, and reflections. The minimum number of posts is based on topics you initiate on the forums site as well as those you reply to.|
Communication Guidelines: Email is the best way to contact me. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I do not respond to students at any other address. I try to answer student email within 24 hours on weekdays and within 48 hours on weekends and holidays.
Online Office Hours: You will complete an online survey during the first class, and I will use that information to set up online office hours. Meetings can also be made by appointment. These sessions will all take place in an online chatroom that is available from the Resources menu on the course website.
Participation: Class participation in online forum discussions and in all assignments is required. If you miss a deadline because of an illness, death in the family, or family emergency, see the Student Advocacy page from the Dean of Students Office for details on how to document the situation.
If you have an issue that affects your ability to complete the course, you may qualify for Academic Relief. For personal medical issues, contact the Schiffert Health Center, and for psychiatric or psychological issues, contact the Cook Counseling Center.
Late Policy: Because this is a fast-paced course, you must submit your work on time. If you fall behind, you are likely to find yourself playing catch-up the entire term—and may find that your grade suffers as a result.
Daily forum activities, and Projects 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5: This work is due by 9 PM on the day indicated in the class schedule and in class announcements and blog posts. All these tasks include a grace period. You may submit any of this work up to 24 hours late, but I only provide substantial feedback on work that is submitted on time. You do not need to ask in advance or explain why your work is late. Just turn your work in within 24 hours of the due date. You will receive a zero for any work that is submitted more than 24 hours late.
Project 6 (Final Exam): There is no grace period or make-up option for Project 6. Your work must be submitted by the due date so that I can turn course grades in on time. You will receive a zero if Project 6 is not submitted on time. If you have extenuating circumstances (like three exams on the same day), talk with me before the last day of classes to make alternate arrangements.
Religious Holidays: Please take advantage of the 24-hour grace period explained in the Late Policy section above if the due date for any work in this class coincides with a religious holiday that you celebrate. Please let me know before the event if the 24-hour grace period will not be adequate.
Backups: Save backups of all your work for this class and submission confirmations in Scholar. Maintain these backups in multiple places (your laptop, a flash drive, Google Docs, your Va Tech Drop Box). Printed backups can also be useful. Do not discard any files, notes, or other work until the term is over and you have received your final grade. Be sure that you maintain backups so that you can continue your work when you encounter computer problems. If you need assistance with your computer, check with InnovationSpace or Customer Support Center (4Help).
Equal Access and Opportunity: If you need special accommodations in this course, please contact Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) in 310 Lavery Hall (above the Turner Place Dining Center) on the first of class to ensure that you have the resources you need. The procedures and forms you need are also available on the SSD website. I am happy to work with the SSD staff to make sure that you have the support you need. Documentation from the SSD office should be sent to me by the end of the first week of class.
Grading: I use letter grades in the Scholar gradebook. The gradebook manages all the mathematics. I do not round grades. Specific grading guidelines will be provided for each assignment.
|Excellent, outstanding work that
|Good to very good work that
|Satisfactory or fair work that
|Fair to poor work that
|F||Unacceptable work that is flawed by one or more of the following characteristics:
This schedule is subject to change. It is your responsibility to check your email and the course website for updates and changes to the course schedule.
Time Commitment: Virginia Tech classes require 36.25 hours of class time, so plan to spend at least 1.25 hours on class work for every session. You will spend more time on days when you are drafting and revising your major projects.
T, 7/8: Course Overview, Survey, Online Tools and Markel, and Ch. 3: Writing Collaboratively and Using Social Media
W, 7/9: Project 1: Professional Biography Statement, and related online readings
H, 7/10: Markel, Ch. 1: Introduction to Technical Writing, and Ch. 4: Analyzing Your Audience & Purpose
F, 7/11: Markel, Ch. 6: Writing for Your Readers
M, 7/14: Rough Drafts and Feedback, Markel, Appendix, Part B: Editing and Proofreading Your Documents
T, 7/15: Project 1: Professional Biography Statement due by 9 PM
W, 7/16: Project 2: Analysis of Writing in Your Field, and Ch. 7: Designing Documents & Web Sites
H, 7/17: Markel, Ch. 9: Writing Correspondence
F, 7/18: Discussion of example documents
M, 7/21: Rough Drafts and Feedback
T, 7/22: Project 2: Analysis of Writing in Your Field due by 9 PM
W, 7/23: Project 3: Technical Description, Definition, and/or Instructions. Markel, Ch. 14: Writing Definitions, Descriptions, & Instructions
H, 7/24: Markel, Ch. 2: Understanding Ethical & Legal Considerations, Ch. 8: Creating Graphics, and, Appendix A: Documenting Your Sources
F, 7/25: Discussion of example documents
M, 7/28: Rough Drafts and Feedback
T, 7/29: Project 3: Technical Description, Definition, and/or Instructions due by 9 PM
W, 7/30: Project 4: Proposal on Job Application Needs, Project 6 (Final Exam): Job Application Materials, and Markel, Ch. 11: Writing Proposals
H, 7/31: Markel, Ch. 10: Writing Job-Application Materials, and VT Career Planning Guide: Writing Resumes, pp. 33 to 59
F, 8/1: Discussion of example documents
M, 8/4: Rough Drafts and Feedback
T, 8/5: Project 4: Informational Report and Proposal on Job Application Needs due by 9 PM
W, 8/6: Project 5: Course Progress and Completion Report, and Markel, Ch. 12: Writing Information Reports
H, 8/7: Discussion of LinkedIn, GitHub, and Online Portfolios (Web-based readings)
F, 8/8: Discussion of example documents
M, 8/11: Rough Drafts and Feedback
T, 8/12: Project 5: Course Progress and Completion Report due by 9 PM
W, 8/13: Discussion of example documents
H, 8/14: Rough Drafts and Feedback
F, 8/15: Project 6: (Final Exam): Job Application Materials due by 9 PM