This class will survey and discuss successful technical communication strategies and then practice these strategies in a variety of common forms (20+ pages including an instruction manual, a recommendation report, and an annotated list of references). In addition to learning the basic elements of document design and professional editing, yYou will learn to analyze different writing contexts, meet the needs of diverse audiences, organize and present material logically and clearly. We will use computers and the internet for the work in this course.



English 1 & 2. Only juniors and seniors should be registered for this course.


This course meets on-line. There are four times when you must be physically present:

  1. The first class for the syllabus, course outline, and course contract.
  2. Week 4: discuss translation of a technical document with your conference professor; bring a copy of the article you plan to use.
  3. Week 11: a meeting with your conference professor to discuss your ideas for the proposal and recommendation report; bring preliminary bibliography.
  4. The last class for course evaluations.

You are required to be present on e-mail. To keep up-to-date with assignments and readings, you will need to check your mail at least twice a week (I recommend Tuesdays and Thursdays at a minimum); ideally, check your mail every other day. There are steep penalties for late assignments (see below).


  1. Hand in all assignments on time. Since the e-mail nature of the class allows you quite a bit of flexibility, the deadlines for drafts and final versions of work are absolute.
  2. Do all of the assigned readings/preparations. You must complete all of the assignments to be eligible for a passing grade.
  3. Check your e-mail at least every Tuesday and Thursday. (Ideally, check it every other day.)
  4. Read the on-line discussion listfor this class for announcements, reminders of deadlines, further assignment details, and questions for optional extra credit. Feel free to post general questions or announcements to this list.


Because deadlines are important in professional writing, you shouldbecome accustomed to producing written work on time or early. Late work is unprofessional and will negatively affect your grade. For the first day that a draft or a final assignment is late, you will lose ten points from the final grade for that assignment; if the draft or assignment is two days late, you will lose twenty points from the final letter grade for that assignment; if three days late, you will lose thirty points. A draft or assignment that is more than three days late earns an automatic F and will not be accepted.


You should submit work that could be used in a professional setting. In drafts submitted via e-mail (a medium that allows only simple text features), we expect you to make use of format features like paragraphing, lists, and simple headings. For final work (always submitted in hard copy to your professor's mailbox in 231 Stansbury), we will expect documents to include boldface, underlining, and other techniques that increase the readability and overall effectiveness of the message.


When you are meeting deadlines, always allow enough time for a back-up plan in case something goes awry. For instance, if the computer labs are jammed or if the server that lets you send mail is temporarily down, you'll need extra time. It's also good to have a back-up plan for those (hopefully rare) occasions when technology (computer, car, printer, etc.) fails you entirely. Some alternatives that you might want to keep in mind:

  1. E-mail or transport failure: you can, in an emergency, FAX your assignment (along with a note of explanation) to the department--FAX # 293-5380. List your name, your professor's name, and the course number on page 1. (Sometimes a no-tech solution will work if you have time: walk over a hard copy--along with a note of explanation--to your professor's mailbox.) If you must substitute a fax or hard copy for an e-mail submission, always send the assignment on e-mail ASAP so that you can receive e-mail comments.

  2. Printer failure for final version: send the final version by e-mail--along with a note of explanation--and get a print version to your professor as soon as possible.

  3. No response from your professor in over a week: send an e-mail or give a call. We occasionally hit glitches, too. If you haven't heard from us in the time promised (see schedule), something is wrong and we need to know it so we can fix the problem.


There are two labs that are run by Academic Computing where you can activate your e-mail account (if you haven't already), get a copy of Eudora, and receive help. One is in the basement of the Mountain Lair, and the other is in the basement of the Evansdale Library. You will need your student i.d., a paid fee statement, and (if you want a copy of Eudora), a few blank double-sided, high-density disks. Once you have activated your mail account, you may want to ask Academic Computing about other computer labs on campus. Most buildings and departments have labs that are open to the public at some point during the day. For instance, Stansbury has a networked MAC lab where you can access the WWW, word process, and check mail (with a MACversion of Eudora); it is open in the evenings after the second week of classes. During the day, any student in an English class can, on a space available basis, use the Center for Literary Computing's lab (also a MAC lab) in 201 Armstrong.


Grades of "Incomplete" will not be given, except in cases of unexpected or unpredictable physical or psychological trauma. Certification from the Dean of Student Life is required.


In the last part of this class, you may choose to revise and re-submit any one graded assignment for a higher grade. The revision will be due during the time normally set aside for the final exam for this class. You may not revise more than once. Attach the original graded work to the revision. Conference professors will not read work unless you can provide your original assignment with the original grade and comments. Your professor will generally average the grades for the original and the revision. If, for instance, you earned 80 points on your original document and 90 on the revision, the new grade would be an 85. Strong revisions will make improvements beyond the minimum suggested by the professor, and will improve the overall content, presentation, and style of the original.


We assume that we will never have reason to doubt your honesty. But so we're clear on what is considered plagiarism for English 208:

plagiarism involves misrepresenting as your own work any part of work done by another; submitting the same paper or substantially similar papers to meet the requirements of more han one course without the written approval and consent of all instructors concerned; depriving another student of necessary course materials; interfering with another's work.

This is a serious offense and will be officially reported. Clear cases will result in an F and appropriate academic discipline. If you have any question concerning scholastic honesty, talk to your professor.

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