Course Information: WRIT 4220/5220
Section 001, Course # 53532 / 46106
We meet from 9:30 a.m. - 10:45 in KPLz 143 on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
The course home page can be found at: <http://www.d.umn.edu/~cstroupe/sp10/4220/>
This class will explore how documents work in the physical and social world. You will learn hands-on skills and methods of document production and have opportunities to conceive and create documents for particular audiences, tasks, environments, and situations. You will also gain a larger perspective on the convergence of technology, language, and culture which documents represent. The goal of the course is thus to present "document design" is not simply as the study of software tips and techniques, but as an interdisciplinary area where the fields of design, writing, history, usability, and cultural studies meet.Expectations
As described on the schedule, this course is organized as a set hands-on projects and exercises, combined with a series of critical readings. The midterm exam and final exam will give you opportunities to demonstrate your grasp of the readings and major course concepts.
Projects. 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.
The online schedule 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.
Exercises will generally be assigned as homework--though we will trouble-shoot them, if needed, in class. Exercises will be due (that is, available on the Web, the URL posted to the correct forum) by midnight on the due dates. Sometimes we will do exercises together in class.
We will have readings assigned regularly, throughout the term, which will demonstrate the various cultural uses of writing and critically discuss New Media. In addition to the books to be purchased, some texts will be made available via the library's electronic reserve. I will provide URLs to these texts, and I will expect you to print them out, read and annotate them, and bring the printouts to class ready to discuss. Do not use online versions of the readings as your primary means of understanding them. Please be prepared for brief quizzes and other activities intended to encourage you to keep up with (and engaged with) the readings.
Exam and Essay
I will give you sample questions and conduct a review session to help you prepare for the exam. The exam will cover the readings and concepts elaborated in class discussions.
The final essay will give you the opportunity to apply these ideas from class to the analysis of a document of your own choosing.
In addition completing the exercises, designing and producing the projects, readings the assigned texts, 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.
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 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. 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
- Art and Design in Photoshop, Steve Caplin. Focal Press
- The Cognitive Style of Powerpoint, Edward Tufte, Graphics Press
- Scrolling Forward: Making Sense of Documents in the Digital Age, David M. Levy, Arcade Press
- 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 exam: 15%
- The final essay: 15%
- Participation, including your completion of the various exercises, reading responses, quizzes, and participation in class generally: in-class activities and contributions, online discussions, attendance, conferences, peer workshop responses, online discussions, class discussion, promptness: 15%