Course Information: WRIT 4230 / 5230
Section 002, course # 57459 / 45760
We meet from noon-12:50 in MonH 239 on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.
The course home page can be found at: <http://www.d.umn.edu/~cstroupe/f09/5230/001>
This class is intended to teach you the aesthetic, cultural, and rhetorical uses of Web-design techniques—including writing. While the class is not primarily focused on technical tools, it is designed assuming that you have no prior knowledge of Web design, and is intended to provide you with introductions and resources to master to the basic skills.
In this class, you will gain practice and expertise in the following areas:
- applying principles of rhetoric, design, cultural theory, and creative thinking to your Web-design work and writing;
- discussing your work in critically informed ways;
- writing critically and knowledgeably about issues and questions raised by the digital culture;
- conceiving and carrying out writing/design projects that engage potential audiences on a variety of levels;
- participating in and contributing to a community of writer/designers;
- learning to develop successful working relationships with clients and support teams, which are especially necessary in the creation of documents for institutions, businesses, and civic organizations;
- using a variety of software to create documents for delivery via the Internet.
Exercises and Projects
This course is organized as a set hands-on projects and exercises, combined with a series of strategic and critical readings. The midterm and final exams give you the opportunity to demonstrate your grasp of the readings and major course concepts.
- The three major projects are long-term, individual works which you will complete on over a period of weeks.
- The exercises are activities done as homework following step-by-step directions, followed up by a help session in class. We will sometimes do exercises together in class. For in-class exercises, you'll have 24 hours after the class meeting (if needed) to complete and post exercises and their URLs to the Web for credit.
The Projects. As described on the Projects Page, the projects are larger pieces that you'll complete individually over a period of two or three weeks using the skills you've learned from the exercises and insights from the readings and class activities. These include a personal home page, an audience-focused informational site, and "Client Project" for a real-life organization, individual, business, professor, or campus unit of your own choosing.
Exact due dates for all requirements are included in the online schedule, which will be updated throughout the semester. Please note that often digital projects will be due on non-class days.
There is a three-point penalty per day for late projects.
- Digital projects are late if the URL is not posted to the correct online discussion as of the day and exact time specified in the schedule. A digital project that's five minutes late is the same as one that's 23 hours late. Changes made to the projects after the assigned day/time may or may not be included in the evaluation.
- Paper-based projects need to be submitted as a hard copy at the time and place assigned. I will not accept e-mail-attached or electronic copies of paper-based projects.
We'll do the exercises together in class to learn particular skills or techniques, and you'll have 24 hours after the class meeting (if needed) to complete and post each exercise to the Web for credit.
Midterm and Final Exams
I will give you sample questions and conduct a review session to help you prepare for the final exam.
In addition completing the exercises, designing and producing the projects, and taking the exam, you will earn credit through:
- writings on our online discussions
- brainstorming sessions and preliminary writings or designs for your projects,
- peer critiques for workshops
- occasional self commentaries on your work
- other writings.
On days when readings are assigned, please do the following:
- Do the readings by the beginning of class
- As you read, mark in the book or on the printout, noting key terms, ideas, issues, questions, and names. In the margins, make notes of important implications and consequences, as well as your own ideas. These markings and notes will be extremely valuable to you in the exams.
- Before class, complete any Preparation Sheets, Reading Guides or other preparatory activities that I have assigned. I will frequently ask you to read your responses aloud in class to help generate discussion.
- Expect occasional, brief quizzes or other opportunities for response at the beginning or end of class. There are no make-ups on these responses if you are absent, late or leave early.
Since this class will function as a community of writer-designers, your regular attendance is absolutely necessary.
- Absences: For Monday/Wednesday/Friday classes, absence in excess of 4 will deduct 3 percentage points each from your overall grade. For Tuesday/Thursday classes, absences in excess of 3 will deduct 3 percentage points each from your overall grade. For night classes, absences in excess of 2 will deduct 3 percentage points each from your overall grade
- Absences short of these limits can be spent however you wish and so there are no excused or unexcused absences. Save your "free" absences for a rainy (or snowy) day.
- If you are absent, you are responsible for all material covered in class.
- In the case of absences or lateness, some requirements like quizzes and guided in-class activities cannot be made up when timeliness or group interaction is critical.
- In addition to your budget of allowed absences, you also have instances of arriving late or leaving early to use (with or without an excuse) if necessary: 4 for Monday/Wednesday/Friday classes, 3 for Tuesday/Thursday classes, 2 for night classes. Instances in excess of these allowed occasions will decrease your overall grade by 2 percentage points each. If during the semester you need to leave class early, even if it's one of your allowed instances, please arrange it with me in advance.
A larger goal of this course is to establish a community or network of writer-designers—with a wide variety of backgrounds, expertise, and interests—to enhance your learning and enjoyment in the class. The class is designed to provide a number of avenues for this community building, including peer workshopping and critiquing, in-class "studio sessions," support groups, and various Internet-based communications and collaborations. Your sincere and regular contributions to maintaining this collaborative environment will count in your grade and of course will greatly benefit your final products in the course.
Because your work is the subject matter for this course, turning in all projects and writings precisely on time is critical; work turned in late will be assessed a 3% penalty per day.
If you have a disability, either permanent or temporary, which might affect your performance in this class, please notify me at the beginning of the semester. Methods, material, or testing will be adapted as required for equitable participation.
Incompletes for the semester will be given only in the following very limited circumstances:
- you must contact me in advance of the semester's end to make a request for an incomplete;
- no more than one or two weeks of class, or one or two assignments, can have been missed;
- you must be in good standing in the class (not already behind, in other words);
- you must have a documented family or medical emergency, as required by university policy;
- you must arrange a time table with me for completing the missed work that is acceptable for both of us.
Academic Integrity and Student Conduct
- Reading Digital Culture, David Trend (ed.)
- Dreamweaver CS3: The Missing Manual, David Sawyer McFarland, Pogue Press/O'Reilly;
- Homepage Usability: 50 Websites Deconstructed, Jakob Nielsen and Marie Tahir, New Riders Publishers
- a number of book chapters that I will make available from the UMD library's electronic reserves. I will provide links to these PDF files, which I will require you to print out.
- a UMD e-mail account
- a USB drive (a.k.a., jump drive, pocket drive, thumb drive) for saving and transporting your work
- occasional access to a digital camera, which can be checked out from ITSS.
- access to a printer, or funds for printing
- Your work on the major projects: 55%
- The midterm exam: 10%
- The final exam: 20%
- Your completion of the various exercises, reading responses, and participation in class generally, including in-class activities and contributions, online discussions, attendance, conferences, quizzes, peer workshop responses, online discussions, class discussion, promptness: 15%