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English 413, Electronic Documents and Publications -- Dr. Jablonski -- UNLV -- Course Website Link to UNLV home page

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Doc Re-Purposing
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T 4:00-6:30
CBC C309
http://www.unlv.edu/faculty2/jablonski/413/index.html

Dr. Jeff Jablonski
FDH 624
jablonsk@unlv.nevada.edu
895-0947
T 1:00-4:00 or by appointment

Course Introduction English 413 presents principles of Web-based document design, creation, layout, editing, and posting to the Internet and on corporate intranets.

This course emphasizes learning how to produce electronic documents from a rhetorical perspective, which means understanding how purpose, audience, and context affect the development of Web pages and other electronic documents. This is not a course in using HTML code or a specific HTML editor. Nor is it a class in creating flashy high-end multimedia graphics or becoming an e-commerce Webmaster (i.e., administering a for-profit business using web databases). Though these elements are important and will be reviewed in this class, these skills are reserved for other courses (e.g., the Division of Educational Outreach’s Internet Design and Technology Certificate Program, or there’s good Web graphic design courses in Fine Arts).

Since this is an English class, this course will focus on writing electronic documents, broadly defined to include such topics as visual design, user testing, and information architecture. Some of the skills Web writers, as opposed to Web graphic designers, must posses include:

  • Planning, researching, and writing fresh, compelling, concise content from teasers to full-length feature articles
  • Strong understanding of principles of information architecture and user-centered information design
  • Brainstorm, evaluate, produce, test, launch, and promote new site ideas
  • Experience with HTML and HTML editors
  • Experience with content management systems
  • Ability to work on web design team and interact with management, sales and marketing, and subject-area experts
  • Solid understanding of grammar, punctuation, and style rules

One advantage of knowing how to write effectively for the World Wide Web is that Web writing skills, broadly defined, translate very well into any form of writing, including print documents written in any profession.

English 413 is among the new core courses for the English Dept.’s Professional Writing Certificate Program. This program, open to all majors, is designed to strengthen your workplace written communication skills or prepare you for a career as a professional writer. For managerial and other business and technical jobs, strong writing skills translate into increased career advancement and income.

A Professional Writing Certificate makes you more marketable and enhances your career options. You can also pursue a career as a professional writer, specializing in communicating information to diverse audiences.

Course Goals

Goals of English 413 include:

  • Learn to design professional quality online documents, including Web pages, Adobe PDF documents, and online help
  • Learn and apply principles of rhetoric, visual design, usability, and information architecture in designing electronic documents
  • Create professional quality personal and professional Web sites, including external client sites and personal e-portfolios
Prerequisite
  • Completion of first-year composition requirement
  • No prior Web design experience required
  • Admission to the Professional Writing Certificate program is not a prerequisite
Required Texts

Don’t Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability by Steve Krug. Indianapolis, IN: New Riders, 2000. $24.50 at Amazon.com. Krug has a companion Web site with some additional information at http://www.sensible.com/. You’ll have to purchase this book.

Hot Text: Web Writing that Works by Jonathan Price and Lisa Price. Indianapolis, IN: New Riders, 2002. $28.00 at Amazon.com. There’s a companion site with free PDF versions of the text at http://www.webwritingthatworks.com/.

Web Style Guide ( 2nd ed) by Patrick J. Lynch and Sarah Horton available at http://www.webstyleguide.com/index.html?/. It’s free online but you can purchase a print copy at Amazon for $13.97.

  • NOTE: I didn’t order any copies of these texts at the bookstore
Required Materials
Recommended Materials A home copy of Dreamweaver MX. The software is available on campus in the public computer lab located in CBC C234, but you may want to purchase your own copy of Dreamweaver MX, the latest version of Macromedia’s Web authoring software. This is what the pros use to create and manage Web pages. It is a powerful, flexible program that is relatively easy to use. One drawback is that it has tons of features (again, UNLV’s Educational Outreach offers great Dreamweaver courses). You can install a 30-day trial version of Dreamweaver MX 2004 from Macromedia’s site at http://www.macromedia.com/software/
dreamweaver/

You can purchase educational discount versions of the software at Journeyed.com. Dreamwever MX is available for $99.98. You can also purchase an educational version of Macromedia Studio MX, which includes Macromedia Flash MX, Dreamweaver MX, Fireworks MX, and FreeHand, for $199.98. Academic versions may not be used for commercial sites and are not upgradable to the retail versions. Before purchasing or downloading Dreamweaver, make sure your computer meets the software’s specifications .

A good Web design book for novices is The Non-Designer’s Web Book (2nd ed.) by Robin Williams and John Tollett (Berkeley, CA: Peachpit, 2000). $24.49 at Amazon.com.

Assignments Labs (30% ÷ 6)
There are six in-class “lab” activities designed to give you hands on experience with the tools and/or principles applicable to a particular project and the overall course objectives. Generally, you’ll get full credit for successfully completing all the tasks of a particular lab. You can make up a missed lab assignment for half credit.

Webzine Project (10%)
People have different online reading habits than print reading habits. As part of the “English” emphasis of this Web writing course, you should learn how to write, in the words of Jonathan and Lisa Price, “sticky,” “attention-grabbing,” “interactive,” “relevant,” “persuasive,” “informative” content. To gain experience writing for online audiences, for this assignment you’ll write a 1,000 word “Webzine” (i.e., online) article on a subject related to information technology, like those published in popular online zines like PCWorld, WebMonkey, and Wired magazine. You can pick the topic.

Document Re-Purposing Assignment (10 % of course grade)
Your second assignment is to “repurpose” or convert a print document into a Web-based document. For this project, you must select a basic to intermediate Dreamweaver MX tutorial file (in PDF form) from Macromedia’s Web site <http://www.macromedia.com/support/ dreamweaver/tutorial_index.html> and convert it from linear pages into a hypertext Web site. In addition to knowledge of basic Web design, you will be expected to apply knowledge of the differences between print and online documents. Since Macromedia is notorious for poorly written documentation, you’ll also be expected to “add value” to the tutorials by making them easier for novices to use Dreamweaver MX.

Web Site Evaluation (10%)
One of the goals in this class is to help you develop a better critical sense of what constitutes an effective Web site. Therefore, one of the assignments in this class is to choose a Web site, apply what you read about effective Web site design, and then write a detailed 1,500-2,000 word evaluation report of your chosen site. Your analysis will consider such criteria as audience/purpose, information architecture/navigation, visual design, usability, and quality/appropriateness of writing. Your review must be submitted in the form of a hyptertext Web site.

E-Portfolio (10 %)
For the final project, you’ll construct a Web-based “e-portfolio” that creates a professional identity for yourself and can be used to showcase your skills and abilities with interested readers (i.e., employers). While you have some leeway in what you can include in this site, you will be required to include a home/splash page, a Web resume, and several annotated samples of work that represents your relevant skills, including at least one PDF document you’ve written and links to Web pages you produced during this course. Anything on the site that could hurt your image with potential employers will hurt your grade (i.e., pictures of your spring break arrest would be unacceptable; pictures of your favorite cats would have to be carefully measured according to your audience and purpose).

Mid-Term and Final Exam (20% ÷ 2)
Yup, there are exams in this class. Each exam will consist of several short-answer questions and should take about one hour to complete. The exams are designed to assess your familiarity with and ability to apply assigned readings.

Participation (10%)
You’re expected to attend every class and participate actively during class. Absences, excused or unexcused, affect your participation grade accordingly: One absence = A; 2 = B; 3 = C; 4 = F for your participation grade. Five or more absences and you fail the course.

Grading

Grades will be determined on a percentage basis. Major assignments will be graded on the standard letter-grade scale with plusses and minuses. Your overall grade and project grades are based on the following percentages:

A = 100–92% A- = 91–90% B+ = 89–88 % B = 87–82% B- = 81–80%
C+ = 79–78% C = 77–72% C- = 71–70% D+ = 69–68% D = 67–62%
D- = 61–60% F= 59-0%      

Grade to Points Conversion
Use the following table to convert your letter grade on a particular assignment to the corresponding point value out of the total 100 points for the course. For example, on an assignment worth 5 points, an “A-” earns 4.5 points (90% x 5 = 4.5).

  5 10 15 20
A
5.0 10.0 15.0 20.0
A-
4.5 9.0 13.5 18.0
B+
4.4 8.8 13.2 17.6
B
4.1 8.2 12.3 16.4
B-
4.0 8.0 12.0 16.0
C+
3.9 7.8 11.7 15.6
C
3.6 7.2 10.8 14.4
C-
3.5 7.0 10.5 14.0
D+
3.4 6.8 10.2 13.6
D
3.1 6.2 9.3 12.4
D-
3.0 6.0 9.0 12.0
F
0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0

NOTE: All projects and exams must be completed to pass the course.

Project Point Breakdown
  Overall % Points Your Grade
Lab #1
5% 5  
Lab #2
5% 5  
Lab #3
5% 5  
Lab #4
5% 5  
Lab #5
5% 5  
Lab #6
5% 5  
Webzine Project
10% 10  
Re-Purposing Project
10% 10  
Website Evaluation
10% 10  
E-Portfolio
10% 10  
Mid-Term Exam
10% 10  
Final Exam
10% 10  
Participation
10% 10  
Total>
100% 100  

Attendance & Punctuality University policy requires that you attend every class. If you do miss a class, for whatever reason, you are responsible for making up missed work. Missing more than 1 evening class without prior notification and appropriate documentation constitutes excessive absence. Your participation grade and final grade will be lowered according to missed-classes over this limit. Being excessively late for class counts as half an absence.

I expect you to notify me by phone or e-mail prior to a planned absence and as soon as possible after an unexpected emergency.

Writing Lab Support UNLV’s Writing Center (FDH 240) offers free tutoring for students who want or need extra writing help. You can make use of these services by dropping in at the Center or by making an appointment to see a writing tutor (895-3908). The Writing Center also offers online help at <http://www.unlv.edu/Colleges/Liberal_Arts/English/Writing_Center/>.
Documented Disability If you have a documented disability, you will need to go to Disability Services (DS) for coordination in your academic accommodations. DS is located within the Learning Enhancement Services in Reynolds Student Services Center (Rm 137). The DS phone is 895-0866 (TDD 895-0652).
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