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://3764w15.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 (reading quizzes, daily course work, and a minimum of 15 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. There is a quiz for each reading.|
Communication Guidelines: Email is the best way to contact me. You can email me at email@example.com. 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 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 day, 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 day. This work is due by 11:55 PM in Scholar 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 24 hour 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 24 hours after the due date and is the final moment 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 multiple 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 a Scholar’s default grade scale (no rounding). 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||Sat||Dec 27||Course Overview
Markel, Ch. 1: Introduction to Technical Writing
Markel, Ch. 3: Writing Collaboratively and Using Social Media
Assignment for Project 1: Professional Biography Statement, with related online readings
|Sun||Dec 28||Independent Work Day|
|2||Mon||Dec 29||Markel, Ch. 4: Analyzing Your Audience & Purpose
Markel, Ch. 6: Writing for Your Readers
|3||Tue||Dec 30||Project 1 Rough Drafts for Peer Feedback, due by 9:00 AM
Peer Review of Project 1
Markel, Appendix, Part B: Editing and Proofreading Your Documents
Project 1: Professional Biography Statement, due by 11:55 PM
|4||Wed||Dec 31||Assignment for Project 2: Analysis of Writing in Your Field
Markel, Ch. 7: Designing Documents & Web Sites
Markel, Ch. 9: Writing Correspondence
|Thu||Jan 1||New Year’s Day|
|5||Fri||Jan 2||Project 2 Rough Drafts for Peer Feedback, due by 9:00 AM
Peer Review of Project 2
Discussion of Project 2 example documents
Project 2: Analysis of Writing in Your Field, due by 11:55 PM
|Sat||Jan 3||Independent Work Day|
|Sun||Jan 4||Independent Work Day|
|6||Mon||Jan 5||Assignment for Project 3: Proposal on Job Application Needs
Assignment for Project 4: Job Application Materials
Markel, Ch. 11: Writing Proposals
Markel, Ch. 10: Writing Job-Application Materials
VT Career Planning Guide: Writing Resumes, pp. 33 to 59
|7||Tue||Jan 6||Project 3 Rough Drafts for Peer Feedback, due by 9:00 AM
Discussion of Project 3 example documents
Peer Review of Project 3
Project 3: Report and Proposal on Job Application Needs, due by 11:55 PM
|8||Wed||Jan 7||Discussion of LinkedIn, GitHub, and Online Portfolios (Web-based readings)|
|9||Thu||Jan 8||Project 4 Rough Drafts for Peer Feedback, due by 9:00 AM
Peer Review of Project 4
|10||Fri||Jan 9||Assignment for Project 5: Technical Description, Definition, & Instructions
Markel, Ch. 14: Writing Definitions, Descriptions, & Instructions
Project 4: Job Application Materials, due by 11:55 PM
|Sat||Jan 10||Independent Work Day|
|Sun||Jan 11||Independent Work Day|
|11||Mon||Jan 12||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||Tue||Jan 13||Project 5 Rough Drafts for Peer Feedback, due by 9:00 AM
Peer Review of Project 5
Discussion of Project 5 example documents
Project 5: Technical Description, Definition, & Instructions, due by 11:55 PM
|13||Wed||Jan 14||Assignment for Project 6: Course Completion Report
Markel, Ch. 12: Writing Information Reports
|14||Thu||Jan 15||Discussion of Project 6 example documents|
|15||Fri||Jan 16||Project 6 Rough Drafts for Peer Feedback, due by 9 AM
Peer Review of Project 6
SPOT course evaluations due by midnight
|16||Sat||Jan 17||Project 6: (Final Exam): Course Completion Report, due by 11:55 PM|