Syllabus: Spring 2014

Course Information

WRIT 4250/5250

Section 001, Course # 49165 / 49037

We meet from 10:00 a.m. - 10:50 in LIB 118 (occasionally in an alternative room, BohH 343) on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

The course home page can be found at: <>.

Professor Information

Dr. Craig Stroupe,, 218-726-6249, Humanities 437, Office Hours. Mondays and Wednesdays from 11:00 to noon or by appointment.

Resources Needed

  • Dreamweaver CS6: The Missing Manual, David Sawyer McFarland, Pogue Press/O'Reilly; ISBN-10: 1449316174, ISBN-13: 978-1449316174
  • The Language of New Media, Lev Manovich, MIT Press. # ISBN-10: 0262632551
    # ISBN-13: 978-0262632553
  • Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter. Tom Bissell. Publisher: Pantheon (June 8, 2010)
    Language: English. ISBN-10: 0307378705, ISBN-13: 978-0307378705
  • Printouts of shorter texts available as PDFs via the course Moodle site. You are required to print these texts out and bring them to class.
  • 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: 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%
  • Note that unexcused absences in excess of 4 will deduct 2% each from your overall grade


This course examines the emerging practices of writing in digital environments such as social media, video games, web sites, mobile apps, and augmented reality. Students learn both theory and practice through readings, discussion, exams, and software tutorials, as well as by producing a series of creative online projects. The course requires no prior knowledge of web design or specialized software.

Writing and Design

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 final exam and essay give you opportunities to demonstrate and consolidate your grasp of the readings and maj or course concepts.


The projects are larger pieces that you'll complete individually over a period of three or four 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 two-point penalty per day for late prßojects. Projects over a week late will receive no credit.

  • 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 and Tutorials

Exercises will generally be assigned as homework, and we will trouble-shoot them in the next class meeting. Exercises will be due (that is, available on the Web, the URL posted to the correct online forum) by midnight on the due dates. Sometimes we will do exercises together in class. Each day an exercise is late will deduct 20% (a point for a five-point exercise, for example), with no credit given after five days.

Technical Production

We will learn enough basics of the software Dreamweaver to enable you to edit existing pages, templates, and sites, and to maintain them.

You are not required, however, to use Dreamweaver to create your projects. If you prefer, you can use Wordpress, Google Sites, or any other means you have to create web pages and sites and to make them public on the Internet.

Regardless of the technical means you use to produce your online projects, you will need to complete all the Dreamweaver tutorials in order to get full credit for your course grade.


We will have readings assigned, which will explore the cultural uses and consequences of New Media. In addition to the books to be purchased, many texts will be made available via the Moodle site. 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 give you incentive to keep up with (and engaged with) the readings.


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 the class readings and discussions.

Additional Expectations

In addition completing the exercises, designing and producing the projects, readings the assigned texts, and taking the exam, you will earn credit through:

  • writings in our online discussion forums
  • 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. The 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 and Penalties:

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.

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 TT 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—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.

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: