Syllabus| Spring 2012

Course Information
WRIT 4230 / 5230--Section 001, course # 65409 / 62192. We meet from 11:00 a.m. - 11:50 in MonH 209 (alternative room MonH 206) on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.
The course home page can be found at: <>

Professor Information
Dr. Craig Stroupe,, 218-726-6249, Humanities 425
Office Hours: Mondays and Wednesdays, 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. or by appointment.

Resources Needed
  • Dreamweaver CS3: The Missing Manual, David Sawyer McFarland, Pogue Press/O'Reilly, # ISBN-10: 0596510438 # ISBN-13: 978-0596510435;
  • Home Page Usability: 50 Websites Deconstructed, Jakob Nielsen and Marie Tahir, New Riders Publishers, ISBN-10 0-7357-1102-X, ISBN-13 978-0-7357-1102-0;
  • The Accidental Billionaires, Ben Mezrich, Anchor Books, 2009; # ISBN-10: 0307740986, # ISBN-13: 978-0307740984
  • a number of book chapters that I will make available from the course Moodle site. I will require you to print out these chapters and bring them to class.
  • a UMD e-mail account
  • a USB drive (aka, 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: 65%
  • Midterm 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, promptness: 15%
  • Note that unexcused absences in excess of 4 will deduct 2% each from your overall grade



This class is intended to teach the aesthetic and cultural uses of Web-design techniques—including writing. While the class is not primarily focused on technical tools, it does assume that you have no prior knowledge of Web design, and is intended to provide you with introductions and resources to master the basic skills.

In this class, you will gain practice and expertise in the following areas:

  1. applying principles of effective writing and design, cultural theory, and creative thinking to your Web-design work and writing;
  2. discussing your work in critically and historically informed ways;
  3. writing critically and knowledgeably about issues and questions raised by digital textuality and culture;
  4. conceiving and carrying out writing/design projects that engage potential audiences on a variety of levels;
  5. participating in and contributing to a community of writer/designers;
  6. 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;
  7. using a variety of software to create documents for delivery via the Internet.


Writing and Design

This course is organized as a set of hands-on projects and exercises, combined with a series of strategic and critical readings.

As described on the Projects Page, these larger pieces are completed 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.

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.

Commentaries. Often, the assignment will require that you write a 500-word commentary on your project. Your commentary should fulfil both the general guidelines for commentaries as well as any project-specific requirements listed on the assignment page.

Late Penalties. There is a three-point penalty per day for late projects. Projects over seven days late will receive no credit. Exceptions are granted only in cases consistent with the UMD excused absence policy explained below. 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.

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.

Late Penalties. Each day late will deduct 20% (a point for a five-point exercise, for example), with no credit given after five days.

Readings and Midterm Exam
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. Try following the techniques described on my page on Active Reading. 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.

The substance of these readings will be covered in the Midterm Exam, and will be the basis for later online projects. I will also ask you to quote and discuss ideas from these readings in your commentaries.

Other Expectations
In addition completing the exercises, designing and producing the projects, and taking the exam, you will earn credit through:


Since this class will function as a community of writer-designers, your regular attendance is absolutely necessary. UMD policy states:

Students are expected to attend all scheduled class meetings. It is the responsibility of students to plan their schedules to avoid excessive conflict with course requirements. However, there are legitimate and verifiable circumstances that lead to excused student absence from the classroom. These are subpoenas, jury duty, military duty, religious observances, illness, bereavement for immediate family, and NCAA varsity intercollegiate athletics. For complete information, please see:
1. Allowed Absences:
You are allowed a small number of absences which you can spent however you wish: 4 (in a MWF class) or 3 (in a TT class). Allowed absences do not excuse you from the work due or completed on the days you are absent, and some in-class activities and timely requirements cannot be replicated or made up. Save your "free" absences for a rainy (or snowy) day.

2. Unexcused Absences:
Absences in excess of the budget of allowed instances deduct 2 percent each from your overall grade.

3. Excused Absences and Penalties:
In the case of serious, legitimate, and verifiable conflicts that result in absences in excess of the allowed number, the UMD attendance policy states that absences can be excused if

1. you contact me prior to, or as soon as possible after, the circumstance resulting in your absence(s)

2. you provide written documentation from an authoritative source (e.g., a doctor, the Athletic Department) which speaks specifically to the reason you were unavoidably unable to attend class that particular day.

Like the other types of absence, documented, excused absences do not excuse you from the work due or completed when you did not attend, and some in-class activities and timely requirements cannot be replicated or made up.

4. Tardiness and Leaving Early
In addition to your budget of allowed absences, you also have 3 or 4 instances (depending on the TR or MWF schedule) of arriving late or leaving early to use if necessary. Instances in excess of this allowance will decrease your overall grade by 2 percentage points each. If 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.

Students with Disabilities Policy
It is the policy and practice of the University of Minnesota Duluth to create inclusive learning environments for all students, including students with disabilities. If there are aspects of this course that result in barriers to your inclusion or your ability to meet course requirements – such as time limited exams, inaccessible web content, or the use of non-captioned videos – please notify the instructor as soon as possible. You are also encouraged to contact the Office of Disability Resources to discuss and arrange reasonable accommodations. Please call 218-726-6130 or visit the DR website at for more information.


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

Please see UMD's pages concerning these two issues: