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://3764su15.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 Drive, the Scholar site, or posted in shared course sites. Your final grade is calculated on this distribution:
|80%||Five major projects, 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 class. You should plan to revise these assignments extensively before the due date. There are no rewrites or revisions after work is graded.
|20%||Participation (reading quizzes, 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. 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. Since most students are not in the Blacksburg area, I do not offer on-campus office hours. We can arrange an online meeting if needed.
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. You must provide documentation within one week of any 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:
Daily forum activities and quizzes: Every weekday, you will complete writing activities and/or quizzes 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 realize that you will probably lose the benefit of getting feedback from your peers if your rough drafts are not submitted on time. You will receive a zero for any work that is submitted more than 24 hours late. All forum posts must be submitted by 11:55 PM on the last day of classes, August 13.
Projects 1, 2, 3, and 4: You will compose four 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. Projects are due on Tuesdays, by 11:55 PM in this course. Every student has a two-day 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 two days after the due date and is the final moment that Scholar will accept a project. In this course, the deadline is Thursdays by 11:55 PM for each project. You will receive a zero for any project that is not submitted by the deadline. There are no extensions on deadlines.
Project 5 (Final Exam): There is no grace period or make-up option for Project 5. Your final exam must be submitted by the due date (11:55 PM on Saturday, August 15) so that I can turn course grades in on time. You will receive a zero if Project 5 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 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 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 the term 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.
|Grade Scale||Your manager might say…||Project Description|
|This is exemplary work. It will have a solid impact and will be remembered as a model for future tasks.||This project…
Any work that is incomplete or that contains multiple errors will not earn an A or an A-.
|This is very good. The details and approach are impressive, and the document stands out visually. I’m happy to send this out/use this.||This project…
|This is acceptable. It accomplishes the task completely. We can send it out, but some aspects of it are average. We can do better next time.||This project…
|This is flawed. It will have to be revised before we can send it to a client or coworkers.||This project…
|F||This is unacceptable and unusable. Someone else will have to do this work, starting over from the beginning.||This project…
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. Check the daily posts for specific quiz and forum post activities.
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.
|Week One (I’ll be at West Virginia University)|
|T||7/7||Course Overview, Survey, Online Tools and Markel, Ch. 3: Writing Collaboratively and Using Social Media|
|W||7/8||Overview of Project 1: Professional Biography Statement, and related online readings.|
|H||7/9||Markel, Ch. 1: Introduction to Technical Writing, and Ch. 4: Analyzing Your Audience & Purpose|
|F||7/10||Markel, Ch. 6: Writing for Your Readers, and Ch. 2: Understanding Ethical & Legal Considerations|
|Week Two (I’ll be in Virginia)|
|M||7/13:||Rough Drafts and Feedback, Markel, Appendix, Part B: Editing and Proofreading Your Documents|
|T||7/14||Project 1: Professional Biography Statement due by 11:55 PM|
|W||7/15||Overview of Project 2: Analysis of Writing in Your Field, and Ch. 7: Designing Documents & Web Sites|
|H||7/16||Markel, Ch. 8: Creating Graphics, and Ch. 9: Writing Correspondence|
|F||7/17||Discussion of example documents; and Ch. 5: Researching Your Subject and, Appendix A: Documenting Your Sources|
|Week Three (I’ll be traveling to and in Utah)|
|M||7/20||Rough Drafts and Feedback|
|T||7/21||Project 2: Analysis of Writing in Your Field due by 11:55 PM|
|W||7/22||Overview of Project 3: Job Application Needs|
|H||7/23||Markel, Ch. 10: Writing Job-Application Materials, and VT Career Planning Guide: Writing Resumes, pp. 33 to 59|
|F||7/24||Discussion of example documents; Discussion of LinkedIn, GitHub, and Online Portfolios (Web-based readings)|
|Week Four (I’ll be traveling and back in Virginia on Wednesday night)|
|M||7/27||Rough Drafts and Feedback|
|T||7/28||Project 3: Job Application Materials due by 11:55 PM|
|W||7/29||Overview Projects 4: Capstone Analysis Report and Progress Report|
|H||7/30||Proposal for Project 4 due by 11:55 PM
As appropriate for your report:
Markel, Ch. 11: Writing Proposals, Ch. 12: Writing Information Reports, Ch. 13: Writing Recommendation Reports, and Ch. 14: Writing Definitions, Descriptions, and Instructions; and/or Ch. 15: Making Oral Presentations
|F||7/31||Discussion of example analysis reports|
|Week Five (I’ll be in Virginia)|
|M||8/3||Discussion of example progress reports|
|T||8/4||Progress Report for Project 4 due by 11:55 PM|
|W||8/5||Review of Markel, Ch. 5: Researching Your Subject and, Appendix A: Documenting Your Sources|
|H||8/6||Topic to be determined based on proposals and progress reports|
|F||8/7||Rough Drafts and Feedback|
|Week Six (I’ll be in Virginia)|
|M||8/10||Discussion of remaining questions/issues for the analysis report|
|T||8/11||Project 4: Capstone Analysis Report due by 11:55 PM|
|W||8/12||Overview of Project 5: Course Progress and Completion Report|
|H||8/13||Discussion of example documents|
|F||8/14||Open Day (First day of Summer II Exams)|
|S||8/15||Project 5: (Final Exam): Course Progress and Completion Report due by 11:55 PM|