Course Description

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ENGLISH 3140: Technical Writing

Dr. David Blakesley
Office: Strode 616; Phone: 765.409.2649 (c); also for text messages
Office Hours: Online daily, via email.
Google Hangout:
Gmail: (also for Google Chat)
Course Contact Form: user/2/contact (must be logged in)

Course Dates and Information

Tuesday, June 21, 2016 to July 11, 2016
Last day to turn in course projects: Friday, July 8
ENGL 3140 407
CRN: 55089

Course Website

Reading List

Writing 2e cover

The main course text contains required readings and activities that will be referenced daily for the duration of the course. The text is available for purchase or rental at the Clemson University Bookstore, Cengage website, Barnes and Noble, and Amazon. The course calendar specifies what should be read and when.

  • Blakesley, David, and Jeffrey Hoogeveen. Writing: A Manual for the Digital Age, 2e. Boston: Cengage, 2012. [Be sure that you get the Brief, 2nd Edition only; the print and digital versions should be identical.]

Digital Readings: Several course readings will be made available electronically via the course website or a shared folder in Dropbox. They will include timely articles on technical writing and other subjects under discussion throughout the course. All required readings for the course are listed on the course calendar.

Course Goals and Objectives

In this section of English 3140 (Technical Writing ), students will apply the rhetorical principles of technical writing in individual and collaborative projects that advance understanding of effective communication in contexts that matter. At the end of the course, students will have earned valuable experience as writers, content developers, information architects, and digital designers.

Course Technologies

The course website uses Drupal, an open source content management system used widely across industries and organizations, from NASA to the White House. In addition to proficiency with email and a browser, you will need to use a word processor (Word, Google Docs, Open Office, Pages), a text or HTML editor, such as Dreamweaver, Notepad ++ (Windows; free), TextWrangler (Mac; free). The class will use Box for some file sharing (each student will receive an invitation by email to join the shared Box folder.) Some class time will be devoted to teaching you to use more complex software for producing and designing your writing, but you should also take the initiative to master these programs on your own as you work through course projects. The textbook provides a large number of Technology Toolboxes that you can use to learn techniques or processes that may be new to you.

Note: All Clemson students now have free access to the Adobe Creative Cloud suite of high-end software, so you should set up Adobe CC now. It includes Dreamweaver (mentioned above), Acrobat, InDesign, Muse, Spark, Behance, and Photoshop—each of which you will find useful for completing projects in this course. Find instructions and downloads here:  You will need to use your Clemson credentials and will be asked to verify that you have access to the Creative Cloud suite of tools by Day 3 of the course.

Course Competencies

Students will find that most of the projects completed in ENGL 3140 provide them with quality artifacts for their professional portfolios. With its focus on effective communication across contexts and media, ENGL 3140 also teaches students effective written and oral communication, the means by which you demonstrate all competencies across the general education competencies.


Further details about each of these project will be discussed in separate project descriptions.

Reading Responses and Comments

You'll be asked to post six (6) reading responses during the semester (two per week; each worth up to 20 points). I want you to respond to questions or readings listed on the calendar with a short (250-word) semi-formal response posted to your blog at the course website. These responses will need to be posted by midnight on the due date, and you may work ahead of schedule if you choose. All reading responses should follow the Principles of Reading Responses and the Principles for Posting to Your Weblog. You will also need to comment/reply to reading responses of your peers, reflecting on what they say, suggesting alternatives, or sharing additional information or links. For each reading response assignment, you should write at least two comments (for a total of at least 12 during the course; each worth up to 10 pointss). As an author, you should reply whenever someone comments on one of your reading responses. (240 points, or 24% of course grade.)

Self-Paced Learning Modules

Self-Paced Learning Modules (identified on the course calendar) will help you learn rhetorical principles, explore ideas in depth, or become proficient with the software and hardware useful for creating, designing, and presenting technical information in print or on the Web. Each module gives you a specific challenge or task that you need to complete and then verify (sometimes with a blog post and attachment or screenshot).There will be six (6) modules over the course of the semester, each worth up to 20 points. All will be due by midnight on the day listed on the calendar but you may work ahead to complete them if you wish. (120 points or 12% of course grade.)

Peer Review

In each of the three main course projects (Resume, Documentation, Case Study), you'll be asked to read and respond to the work of your peers. Authors will be encouraged to elicit feedback, and peer reviewers will be encouraged to respond to author questions or to complete peer review sheets. There will be eight (8) peer responses total (four in the resume project and two in each of the other projects). Some will involve reading full drafts and completing review sheets. (80 points or 8% of course grade.)

Resume Project Across Media

The goal of the Resume Project Across Media will be to develop content for a professional resume and portfolio for a specific job, internship, or grad school application and to present the information in multiple formats: print (using Adobe InDesign), professional network (like LinkedIn, Behance, Slated) with an "About Me" story, and one additional form chosen from among multiple alternatives (ePub for the iPad or smartphone, video (using Adobe After Effects, Adobe Spark, Animoto, Wordpress portfolio, or an alternative type of print or digital media; PowerPoint, Prezi, or slide presentations are not good options). In addition to keeping a project log during this project, you'll participate in peer review and submit a reflective document with the final project that addresses questions about how the three versions of the resume/portfolio change across media as well as any other technical and design details useful for understanding and evaluating the project as a whole. (Individual; 300 points or 30% of course grade.)

Documentation Project

In the Documentation Project, you will research a process or procedure associated with some aspect of composing, designing, sharing, or publishing information, which may include visual content (images, video, or animation) then write documentation that teaches users how to complete five (5) important, interesting, or challenging processes or procedures. The focus will be on some aspect of one of your new Adobe tools in the Creative Suite and should teach fellow students how to use the feature in a way that contextualizes it. (So, for example, "Top Five Ways to Use Adobe Acrobat to Comment on Peer Drafts" or "Five Ways to Use the Adobe Voice App to Enhance Your Projects.") Your finished project will be an effectively designed example of user documentation that teaches users efficiently. (Individual; 120 points or 12% of course grade.)

Technical Case Study

In the Technical Case Study project, you'll work with one or two peers to research a successful application of some form of technology (software, Web-based application, or social networking, for example) used by an organization to solve a real world problem or achieve its goals. The organization may be a nonprofit or for-profit company, an on-campus group, or a community with which you may be affiliated. Your finished case study will provide background information on the organization, a description of the problem or goal, a detailed overview (supported by visual content) of the steps taken to solve the problem or achieve the goal, and then a discussion of how well the solution has worked. You'll be asked to complete a Collaborative Project Evaluation Form in PDF format using Adobe Acrobat. at the end of the project. (Collaborative; 140 points or 14% of course grade.)

Final Examination

There will be no final examination in the course, so the last day of our semester will be Friday, July 8. All work still due will need to be submitted by 11:59 pm on that day.

Notes on Self-Pacing and Peer Response

The course will consist of both modular (self-paced) and interactive work, so while some assignments can be completed in advance of their due date, other "work in progress" (such as project drafts and peer review) will require that you respond to or interact with your peers or me as the work is completed. 

  • Students may work ahead on reading responses and comments/replies.
  • Students or groups may work ahead within each project, but only within that project, and they must submit peer reviews in a timely manner, when due.
  • Students or groups can not work ahead on peer reviews. Begin reviewing and responding on the day that drafts are due.
  • In group work, each student must maintain contact with other group members. Check your email daily, and use the group's project log effectively. When collaborative projects fail, it's usually because of poor communication among group members. Since effective communication is a central focus of this course, your successful communication with group members is key ingredient of what you're expected to learn.
  • Reading responses, comments, and give-and take in the blogs must be submitted by midnight on the day they are due. The requirement is that you submit two reading responses per week and that you write four (2) comment responses per week to blog posts submitted by your peers. When people comment on your responses, take the initiative to respond (and possibly extend the discussion).

Feedback and Response Time

Your instructor will respond within three (3) days to major course projects with feedback in written, video, or aural form. Grades on reading responses and self-paced learning modules will be sent to you at the start of each week but may not include additional feedback. The instructor may also join reading discussions online as a participant.


Assignment Points
Reading Responses and Comments 240
Self-Paced Learning Modules 120
Peer Review 80
Resume Project 300
Documentation Project 120
Technical Case Study 140

This course follows the typical grading scale:

A = 90 to 100%
B = 80 to 89%
C = 70 to 79%
D = 60 to 69%
F = 0 to 59%

To earn full credit for reading responses, modules, and peer review, you will need to complete all of them and, in the case of reading responses, actively respond to your peers on the course website. Your reading responses and replies should show that you are engaged with the topic and open to new possibilities and ideas. The criteria for evaluation of the individual and collaborative projects will be spelled out on the full description of each. For the collaborative project, you'll be asked to complete a Collaborative Project Evaluation Form andsubmit it privately to me on or before the project's due date.

You'll receive feedback along the way throughout each project from your peers and a grade on the projects after they're completed. The Resume Project (involving three main parts) can be revised until all three parts are due at the end of the semester.


Since this is an online course, your attendance at a physical location is not required. However, you will need to demonstrate active involvement in the course activities by keeping up with reading responses, project logs, and other coursework. You will also need to respond to course email promptly to ensure that good communication flows in all directions. More than three continuous weekday absences from course activities is grounds for failure of the class. Since late work is not accepted (including peer responses) being virtually absent will significantly affect your course grade.

Decorum and Professional Communication

All students are expected to behave responsibly and collegially in the course's online space, via email, or in any other interactive course communication (e.g., Skype, if used), just as they would in a face-to-face course. Everything you write in the course, including email with each other and the instructor, blog posts and replies, peer responses, and even text messages should be conducted professionally and (probably) more formally than you might expect. As a technical writer, you should be especially mindful of decorum, which is alertness to the ethical practices of a community. Harassment of any kind in email, blog post, or other communication will not be tolerated and may be subject to a warning from the instructor, dismissal from the course space, or referral to the Dean of Undergraduate Studies. Students who feel they have been harassed in some way should contact the instructor privately by email, Skype, or phone.

Clemson University Title IX (Sexual Harassment) Statement

Clemson University is committed to a policy of equal opportunity for all persons and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender, pregnancy, national origin, age, disability, veteran's status, genetic information or protected activity (e.g., opposition to prohibited discrimination or participation in any complaint process, etc.) in employment, educational programs and activities, admissions and financial aid. This includes a prohibition against sexual harassment and sexual violence as mandated by Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. More on Title IX policy: Mr. Jerry Knighton is the Clemson University Title IX Coordinator, and is also the Director of Access and Equity. His office is located at 111 Holtzendorf. Hall, 864.656.3181 (voice) or 864.565.0899 (TDD).

Academic Integrity

Clemson students and their instructors are expected to adhere to the community and ethical standards for behavior and academic integrity at the University:

"As members of the Clemson University community, we have inherited Thomas Green Clemson's vision of this institution as a "high seminary of learning." Fundamental to this vision is a mutual commitment to truthfulness, honor, and responsibility, without which we cannot earn the trust and respect of others. Furthermore, we recognize that academic dishonesty detracts from the value of a Clemson degree. Therefore, we shall not tolerate lying, cheating, or stealing in any form."

"Therefore, we shall not tolerate lying, cheating, or stealing in any form. In instances where academic standards may have been compromised, Clemson University has a responsibility to respond appropriately to charges of violations of academic integrity."

Unless otherwise noted in assignment guidelines, you should not submit work for this course that has been submitted for a grade in other courses.

Accommodations for Students with Disabilities

Student Disability Services coordinates the provision of accommodations for students with disabilities in compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Reasonable and specific accommodations are developed with each student based on current documentation from an appropriate licensed professional. All accommodations are individualized, flexible, and confidential based on the nature of the disability and the academic environment. Housing accommodations for a disability or medical condition are also coordinated through this office. Visit the Student Disability Services website for location, contact information, as well as official policies and procedures. To learn more information or request accommodations contact Student Disability Services (SDS) at sdsl@ or 864.656.6848 or visit SDS's website: (

Privacy Statement

For any publicly accessible student-created content (e.g., social media, multimedia posted in YouTube, responses on course website) included in the course assignments, an alternate activity will be offered upon student request. This option ensures students have a choice to meet learning outcomes (students are given an option on how to meet the learning outcomes) when there is any potential risk to student privacy resulting from applications that may be discoverable outside of the course website. Students may perform and display their multimedia projects for educational uses in the course for which they were created or may use them in their own portfolios as examples of their academic work. Students are reminded to credit the sources and display the copyright notice (©) and copyright ownership information, if this is shown in the original source for all works incorporated as part of educational multimedia projects.

In Case of a Campus Emergency

In the event of a major campus emergency, course requirements, deadlines and grading percentages are subject to changes that may be necessitated by a revised semester calendar or other circumstances. You can acquire updated information from the course website, by emailing, texting, or calling me using the information provided on this course description, or by contacting me through the English Department at (864) 656-3151.

Late Work

All course work is due when listed on the course calendar. Assignments turned in late will not receive credit, and missed class assignments cannot be made up. Sketchy internet access or computer problems aren't acceptable excuses. If a serious and unavoidable problem arises, however, you should contact me in writing prior to the deadline to determine whether or not an extension for the work can be granted.