A print-friendly version of this syllabus is available on Google Drive.
English 3764 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://3764f14.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 posts 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: I will be available online and in my office on the Blacksburg campus. Meetings can also be made by appointment. Online 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: My late policy includes a grace period that should cover most problems that come up, whether academic conflicts, illness, or a personal issue. You do not need to ask in advance or explain why your work is late. Just take advantage of the grace period, as explained below:
Weekly forum activities: Every week, you will complete writing activities that you will submit online. This work counts as part of your participation grade and is relevant to the activities that will take place that week. This work is due by 11:55 PM on the day indicated on the course website. 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. Also realize that you may lose the benefit of getting feedback from your peers if your work is not submitted on time. You will receive a zero for any work that is submitted more than 24 hours late.
Projects 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5: You will compose five projects, which you will submit online. Each major project will have a due date, a grace period, and a deadline:
- The due date is the day that your major project is due. Every student has a one-week grace period after the due date during which the project can still be submitted.
- The grace period occurs between the due date and the deadline. Work submitted during the grace period will be marked as late in Scholar; however, there is no grade penalty for work submitted during the grace period. Note that we will not work on the projects in class after the due date nor will I be available to provide feedback on your work in progress or final submission after the due date.
- The deadline comes one week after the due date and is the final day that Scholar will accept a project. You will receive a zero for any work that is not submitted by the deadline. There are no extensions on deadlines.
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), email 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) during the first week 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:
Time Commitment: Virginia Tech requires 36.25 hours of class time for a three-hour course, so plan to spend about 2.5 hours on class work each week PLUS time for drafting and revising your projects.
|1||Aug 25||Course Overview
Markel, Ch. 3: Writing Collaboratively and Using Social Media
Assignment for Project 1: Professional Biography Statement, with related online readings
|2||Sept 1||Markel, Ch. 1: Introduction to Technical Writing
Markel, Ch. 4: Analyzing Your Audience & Purpose
Markel, Ch. 6: Writing for Your Readers
|3||Sept 8||Project 1 Rough Drafts for Peer Feedback, due Tuesday, Sept 9 by noon
Markel, Appendix, Part B: Editing and Proofreading Your Documents
Project 1: Professional Biography Statement, due Thursday, Sept 11 by 11:55 PM
|4||Sept 15||Assignment for Project 2: Analysis of Writing in Your Field
Markel, Ch. 7: Designing Documents & Web Sites
Markel, Ch. 9: Writing Correspondence
|5||Sept 22||Discussion of Project 2 example documents
Project 2 Rough Drafts for Peer Feedback, due Thursday, Sept 25 by noon
|6||Sept 29||Project 2: Analysis of Writing in Your Field, due Tuesday, Sept 30 by 11:55 PM
Assignment for Project 3: Proposal on Job Application Needs
Assignment for Project 4: Job Application Materials
Markel, Ch. 11: Writing Proposals
|7||Oct 6||Markel, Ch. 10: Writing Job-Application Materials
VT Career Planning Guide: Writing Resumes, pp. 33 to 59
Discussion of Project 3 example documents
(Fall Break, Oct 10–12)
|8||Oct 13||Project 3 Rough Drafts for Peer Feedback, due Tuesday, Oct 14 by noon
Project 3: Report and Proposal on Job Application Needs, due Thursday, Oct 16 by 11:55 PM
|9||Oct 20||Discussion of LinkedIn, GitHub, and Online Portfolios (Web-based readings)|
|10||Oct 27||Project 4 Rough Drafts for Peer Feedback, due Tuesday, Oct 28 by noon
Project 4: Job Application Materials, due Thursday, Oct 30 by 11:55 PM
|11||Nov 3||Assignment for Project 5: Technical Description, Definition, & Instructions
Markel, Ch. 14: Writing Definitions, Descriptions, & Instructions
Markel, Ch. 2: Understanding Ethical & Legal Considerations
Markel, Ch. 8: Creating Graphics
Markel, Appendix A: Documenting Your Sources
Discussion of Project 5 example documents
|12||Nov 10||Discussion of Project 5 example documents
Project 5 Rough Drafts for Peer Feedback, due Thursday, Nov 13 by noon
|13||Nov 17||Project 5: Technical Description, Definition, & Instructions, due Thursday, Nov 18 by 11:55 PM
Assignment for Project 6: Course Completion Report
Markel, Ch. 12: Writing Information Reports
|Nov 24||Thanksgiving Break|
|14||Dec 1||Discussion of Project 6 example documents
Project 6 Rough Drafts for Peer Feedback, due Thursday, Dec 4 by noon
|15||Dec 8||SPOT course evaluations due Wednesday, Dec 10 by midnight|
|16||Dec 15||Project 6: (Final Exam): Course Completion Report, due Monday, Dec 15 by 11:55 PM|