Course Policies

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Please take the time to read and absorb the information presented here. If you have any questions or concerns, please Contact Lisa.

Portfolios: For graduate students in the MA in PWRT and undergraduate students in the PWRT track of the English major, please remember that you will need to choose one of your assignments to include in your portfolio. I would suggest the minute that you turn in your assignment that you want to include that you also put it immediately into your portfolio. I would recommend that you do the “macro” assignment.

What is this course all about?

Our lives are inundated with data and information, and much of that data and information is designed in a way to make it easier to read and to process. This course will give you a theoretical foundation to assist you with designing information in a number of forms for specific purposes and audiences. This course will introduce you to theories of design and cognitive processing and will then give you the opportunity to create a number of products where you design information.


What you can expect from me as instructor?

One of the most important things you can expect from me is having an open, inclusive classroom. What that means is our classroom is a space where we can have open, fruitful discussions and all opinions and points of view will be respected. It’s also a space where I’ll work with you to make allowances for different types of learning abilities.

  • Establish the objectives, assignments, and schedule for the course.
  • Share my knowledge and opinions about topics covered in the readings
  • Facilitate the transfer of information between and among students through discussions of assigned readings
  • Encourage students to express their opinions
  • Help students make connections between their existing knowledge and the information being presented in class
  • Publish and maintain the course website that contains policies, readings, assignments, and related information about the course
  • Be readily accessible to students during my office hours or through email.
  • Review and offer directive and formative advice on plans and drafts related to the assignments


What I expect from you as participant, student, learner?

1) Engagement You have to be engaged. An engaged learner is someone who is constantly asking questions and attempting to make connections between what you already know and the course material. A hot term in education is life-long learning, which to me is centered around the idea of (another hot term) transfer.

You need to try and transfer information you’ve learned from other courses and your jobs and your lives into this course and once the course is over to transfer the information from this course into your other courses, your jobs and your lives.

2) Time outside of class You will have to invest about 3-9 hours (this all depends on you, but this is a rough estimate from past classes) outside of class to achieve the goals of the course. As in any new work routine, students may need more hours during the initial weeks as they learn to carry out the assignments in a way that balances efficiency (time required) and effectiveness (extent of coverage, depth of comprehension).

If you have concerns as we move through the term, please talk to me about them.

3) Assignments Your assignments should be carefully written and edited and fulfill the requirements of the assignments. They should be approached with a professional attitude and demeanor and be professional quality.

4) Professionalism You have the opportunity to continue to develop necessary professional skills, such as, reliable communication with me and your classmates, problem-solving approaches, and cooperation, to name but a few. Use this time wisely to try out new approaches and techniques.

So what’s in it for me?

Most professional writing is about solving problems. By that I mean, your organization or a client for your organization has a communication/writing problem and the present solutions are not meeting their needs. In this case, we’re helping our clients solve their info design problems. To that end, you need to be able to vary your format and approach in response to different rhetorical contexts (different audiences, different purposes, different subject matter). In addition, the assignments should help you to develop critical-thinking skills and the ability to consider your subject from the point of view of your audience. One key element in developing critical-thinking skills is learning how to frame relevant questions, ones that consider the writing situation from different angles and help others to think more deeply and clearly about the issue at hand.


What books and materials will I need?

We will be using parts of pieces of a number of texts. We will not be using any one text completely, so if you’re a hold it in your hand person, you’ll need to set aside funds for printing pages from an online source. Otherwise, all your books are FREE.

All your materials will be available online or through the Safari Books Online database available to you through the library. See the course schedule for more specific information.


What type of technology “stuff” will I need?

You need to have access to the Internet and you’ll need a home computer or laptop that’s fairly new. We will be using Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign, which you can find in our labs (McMicken 254 and 325) through Adobe Creative Cloud. You can also find these at other campus locations.

You can “check out” a key for the 325 lab from the main English office so you have access to that lab to work on assignments and projects.

Some of the tools we’ll be using are open-source and Web-based.

One of the big things I hope you take away from this course is the fact that you’re building a technological literacy, that is, the ability to learn how to learn a new software.


What are we going to be doing in class?

Class times will be divided between, let’s call them, theory and practice. In the theory part of class, we will discuss the major principles and ideas in the readings. In the practice part of class, we’ll see how those principles and ideas are carried out in content management. You will also have the opportunity to work on your projects during the practice part of class. However, a word of caution: it is highly unlikely that you will have enough class time to complete the projects. See “Time” under the “What I expect from you” section.

To make class time as productive as possible, it is important that you do the readings and do some thinking about the readings.


How many classes can I miss?

I strongly encourage that you miss no classes at all. If you miss more than one class period, I may ask you to withdraw and/or your grade will be effected. However, I understand life happens so we’ll try to work something out if you’re willing to do your part.


How will my grade be calculated?

See Assignments.


What do we do if the weather’s bad?

The University has an official weather policy that you should take the time and read.

As a Southerner, I have yet to acclimate to the winters here, even after all of these years. What that means to you and this class is I will often make decisions about whether to hold class in times of inclement weather on the extreme conservative side. In other words, if there is a chance of icky weather, it is more than likely we will not have class physically in our classroom in McMicken 254. In the event of icky weather, I will

    • email you by mid-day (so please be certain you check it)
    • tell you whether we will be holding class
    • provide specific details on class activities and assignments

With available technologies, it is likely we will still hold class in some format, but it will be in a virtual environment. You will also still be responsible for turning in work due on that day.

The “spring” term can be challenging in terms of weather so I simply ask that you stay flexible and adaptable, and we all not lose our sense of humor.

What if I have special needs?

While is last, it’s certainly not least. See note above about inclusive classroom spaces. Here is the official institutional policy on these things. let me translate it for you: I’m here to help you and work with you to achieve your goals. Just talk to me and we’ll find a way to work things out.

If you have any special needs related to your participation in this course, including identified visual impairment, hearing impairment, physical impairment, communication disorder, and/or specific learning disability that may influence your performance in this course, please let me know so reasonable provisions can be made to ensure you an equitable opportunity to meet all the requirements of this course. At the discretion of the instructor, some accommodations may require prior approval by Disability Services.