Welcome to Technical Writing

This is the post for the August 26, 2014 class meeting.

Welcome to English 3764, Technical Writing. This site is the official home for our Fall 2014 courses (CRNs #86653 and #86654). All assignments, weekly and daily activities, and related resources will be posted here. Check this site regularly for the details on what to do for the course.

How This Online Class Works

Twice weekly, I will post details on this site about the work you are to do for the course. You can follow Twitter updates or sign up for email notifications on when new work has been posted (more on that below).

Once you get notification that new content is available, come to this site to find the details. Usually, you will find instructions on the reading for the day and a link to related discussion questions. You will also find an outline of specific things you need to write or do for the course and a reminder of upcoming due dates.

Since this is a blog, the posts for each day appear in reverse chronological order. The most recent post will be at the top of the page. You may need to scroll down to find the post you need. You can also use the All Posts by Title link the the menu bar at the top of the page to find the post for a specific day.

Keeping Up with the Website

 I send out a Tweet using the Twitter account @HokieTengrrl when new content is published on this site. You can also see that feed in the sidebar on the side, so even if you don’t use Twitter, you can scroll through the list in the sidebar to see what has been added.

I also added a “Subscribe Via Email” option in the sidebar. Use this option to get an email message whenever I add a new post to the course website. The process is simple: Add your email, and click subscribe. You’ll have to confirm your subscription. That’s it. The email messages will have information on how to unsubscribe if you decide you want to.

The Online Tools We Will Use

Since this is an online course, we will use a variety of free tools to get our work done for the class. I will provide instructions and help for all of the tools, so there’s nothing to worry about if you haven’t used them before. Here’s an overview of the tools we will use most often:

  • Scholar: You will use Scholar to turn in Assignments and keep track of your progress in the Gradebook. If I need to make sure you see something, I will use the Announcement tool in Scholar to send you an email message.

  • Google Drive: You will compose your major projects using your Virginia Tech Google Drive. We will use the commenting features in Google Drive for peer review and other feedback. You will need to share your work with me and with others in the class.

  • Forums: You will post your response to discussion questions, rough drafts, and other work in a phpBB forum I have set up for the class. It’s similar to the Forum tool in Scholar.

  • Mibbit: You will use Mibbit if you want to meet with me online, in real time, for online office hours. Mibbit is embedded in the course website, and it’s easy to use. If you’ve sent IMs, you can use this tool.

We may also use Google Hangouts, WebEx, and YouTube videos, but I haven’t scheduled anything using any of these tools so far.

Class Work for August 26

Today is about making sure you understand the course policies, getting access to the tools we will use set up, and generally touching base with one another. If you have technical difficulty with today’s class work, don’t panic! Send me an email at tengrrl at vt.edu and let me know what you need help with.

By 11:55 PM Eastern time, please complete these tasks:

  • Read the syllabus thoroughly and note any questions you have. All due dates and times are Eastern timezone. If the times are difficult for you (because you are in another timezone, for instance), send me an email with the deatils immediately.

  • Browse around the course website to find the various resources and additional information. In particular, notice the brief descriptions of the major projects on the Assignments page and the details on the Forum Posts & Participation page.

  • Complete the following in the Forums:

    1. Register on the forums. Be sure to choose the discussion area for Technical Writing (and not the other course I am teaching).
    2. Please choose a professional, classroom-appropriate username. This is a public site, so realize that the name you choose will be publicly available. If you need to protect your privacy (say you are in the witness protection program), feel free to use a pseudonym, but please email me to tell me that pseudonym and your real name.
    3. Go to the Syllabus board and add a reply to the “Syllabus Verification Thread” that confirms you have read the syllabus. Your post will serve as confirmation that you are enrolled in the course.
    4. If you have any questions about the syllabus, course policies, or anything related to the class, create a new topic and ask your question.
    5. Also in the Syllabus board go to the “Class Introductions” and add a reply, following the instructions on the forum.
    6. After you post your intro, read through the other posts to begin getting to know your classmates.
  • Get familiar with your Google Drive account, which is connected to your vt.edu email address. (If you have forgotten your password for your VT Google Apps account, follow these instructions.) If you have never used Google Drive before, you can learn more by watching relevant portions of Google Drive Essential Training with Jess Stratton. (Lynda.com resources are free to VT students.)

  • Obtain a copy of the textbook. An e-book is fine. You will begin reading and using the book next week, so buy it today!