All readings refer to chapters/pages in Technical Communication unless otherwise linked/noted.
T, 8/26: At our first class, we’ll define professional writing, explore what it means at this point in your career, and consider why rhetoric matters in the workplace. I’ll also introduce you to this unit, the course site, and the results of our online survey. Finally, we’ll look at some examples of digital bios and discuss the content and format guidelines for yours.
Th, 8/28: Write and design your digital bio using this tool (or this one). Once you’re happy with your design, grab the html by copying and pasting it into a new document that you’ll have access to class. Also, read “Chapter 3: Defining Your Communication’s Objectives: Purpose, Reader, Context” and pp 5-10 (“Characteristics of workplace writing”). In class, we’ll review the bios and watch and take notes on Helvetica (2007), considering how the film presents a rhetorical analysis of typeface.
T, 9/2: Add a comment under the Meet the Team tab, above, that networks with at least three students. If someone comments on your bio, respond to them in the appropriate thread. Also read “Chapter 8: Drafting Paragraphs, Sections, and Chapters” and “Chapter 14: Designing Reader-Centered Pages and Documents.” In class, we’ll discuss Helvetica and document design, considering what it tells us about the purposes, audiences, and various cultures that produce and read these fonts. Finally, we’ll apply that knowledge as we start to gear up for our Tech Briefings.
Th, 9/4: Read pp 188-193 (“Conducting a Survey”) and “Chapter 4: Planning for Usability.” In class we’ll review the Tech Briefing assignment, check out a video on Google Forms, and start making surveys using Google Forms.
T, 9/9: Send me a link to your survey by 8 a.m today. In class, we’ll complete these surveys and view the results and their importance to audience analysis. To prepare, read “Chapter 7: Analyzing Info and Thinking Critically.”
Th, 9/11: By 8 a.m. today, email me pdfs of your summary of responses along with a draft of a memo summarizing your survey results, drawing from some of the methods discussed in Chapter 7. Use the format on pp 550-52 to help you design it. I’ll collect these and we’ll workshop them in class today.
T, 9/16: Revise your memos and email them to the class (get addresses from my class-wide emails or the Meet the Team page). Read “Chapter 5: Planning your persuasive strategies” and “Chapter 23: Writing Reader-Centered Proposals.” In class we’ll talk about writing proposals, which are due in a week (on 9/23). You’ll also get together with your Instructions Project group and develop a plan for materials.
Th, 9/18: Look over “Chapter 22: Letters/Memos,” and read the following links:
- Use This Template to Write Concise, Effective Complaints When Companies Piss You Off (Lifehacker, Oct 2010 — don’t miss the comments!),
- Professional Complaint Letter Writer Shares His Secrets (Consumerist, June 2008)
- How to Get Your Complaint Heard on Twitter (Media Bistro, Nov 2012)
- Fewer Companies Listen For Customer Complaints On Twitter (Forbes, Mar 2014)
In class, we’ll talk about writing letters and the importance of tone and tactic when you have to deliver bad news. Come prepared with a story to share about a time in the last six months when a company, organization, or person did not provide a product or service that met your expectations. Your situation does not have to be as dramatic as a broken laptop, damaged turntable or lost remote control (nor does it have to be about electronics). It can be as simple as eating a lousy burger at the dining hall or noticing an unreasonable ATM fee the last time you took money out.
T, 9/23: Skim “Chapter 2: Overview of the Reader-Centered Communication Process: Obtaining a Job” and read:
- I’ve Read 500 Cover Letters for Entry-Level Media Jobs (Slate, Aug 2013)
- Cover Letter FAQs (pdf from SU’s Career Services & The Writing Center, 2010)
- Cover Letters: Types and Samples (from Virginia Tech’s Career Services, 2013)
Bring a job ad to class (if you’re not sure where to look, Orangelink from Career Services might be a good place to start.). Email your Tech Briefing proposal to Jason. In class we’ll analyze the job ads and begin to talk about strategies for writing effective cover letters.
Th, 9/25: Review Chapter 2, especially pp 49-57. In class we’ll look at some sample cover letters. I’ll also introduce you to the Instructions Project. Claim letter and cover letters are due on 10/2.
T, 9/30: Review drafts of claim and cover letters. Bring 5 copies of each, including copies of your job ad.
Th, 10/2: Before class, read “Chapter 27: Writing Reader-Centered Instructions.” Bring your legos to class — you’ll have some time to design. In class, we’ll also check out a few DIY instruction sites like All Recipes, wikiHow, Instructables & the DIY Network. Be sure to email me your claim and cover letters by tonight. Also, sign up for a conference next week.
T, 10/7: Before class, read “Project Planning and Tracking” (you might also look over “Chapter 18: Creating Communications with a Team”). Come to class having tried something from one of the sites we looked at in class on 10/2 and talk about that experience. You’ll have a chance to get in your groups and make some decisions about your collaboration tools and the host for your instructions site.
Th, 10/9: NO CLASS: Conferences in MSM. Are you signed up?
T, 10/14: Before class, read “Chapter 27: Creating Websites.”
Tech briefing: Simple web design (Lincoln & Mark)
Th, 10/16: Usability. Before class, read “Chapter 4: Planning for Usability” and this usability study about the iPad.
T, 10/21: Usability testing in HBC 227. Before class, read “Chapter 16: Testing for Usability and Persuasiveness.”
Th 10/23: Usability testing continued in HBC 227.
Tech briefing: Advanced features of Google Docs (Evan & Lucas)
T, 10/28: The Feasibility Study unit. Review final delivery requirements for the Instructions. Introduction to the Feasibility Study unit. Tech briefing: Zoho (Tim & David)
Th, 10/30: Writing Proposals. In-class lecture is based on “Chapter 23: Writing Reader-Centered Proposals,” so you might check that out again before class. Tech Briefing: Go2Meeting for webinars/presentations (Alina & Tian). Tonight: Email your Instructions Project to me before midnight and complete the team evaluation form.
T, 11/4: Working with Clients. In-class lecture is based on “Chapter 21: Managing Client & Service Learning Projects.” Tech briefing: LinkedIn (Julia & Kelly). We’ll also look at some examples of proposals from previous years.
Th, 11/6: Writing & researching reports. In-class lecture is based on “Chapter 25: Feasibility Reports,” “Chapter 6: Gathering Reader-Centered Info” and “Chapter 7: Analyzing Info & Critical Thinking.“” Tech briefing: InterviewStream (Kathryn & Anisha). Email me your proposals before midnight (75 points)
T, 11/11: Writing & delivering a presentation. MEET IN HBC 009. In-class lecture based on parts of the book Presentation Zen and this handout. Tech briefing: Facebook & Twitter for professional use (Andrew, Rachel, & Lexi)
Th, 11/13: Slide design (cont’d) & organizing your report. Take a look at these examples slides (Example 1 & Example 2), taken from previous feasibility briefings. Be ready to digitally share slides made on 11/11 and for HW. Finally, you’ll listen to an in-class lecture based on “Chapter 12: Front and Back Matter.”
T, 11/17: Briefings
Th, 11/19: Briefings
T, 11/25-11/27: THANKSGIVING BREAK
T, 12/2: Briefings
Th, 12/4: Briefings, wrap up, and course evals.
Monday, 12/8: Email me your entire feasibility report (all docs) as a single pdf attached with the appropriate filename: your last name + the assignment name (e.g. Johnson_feasibility.pdf) In the body of the email use 300-500 words to explicitly but informally introduce me to your report. Tell me about your process, clarify the context or any decisions you made based on your audience, tell me what’s new since your briefing/slides (if anything), and predict what what will really happen as the result of your research.