ENGL 301 (3 cr): Technical Writing

Course Description

English 301 involves the study of principles of written and online communications in business and professional contexts; it includes discussion of and practice in the preparation of abstracts, proposals, applications, reports, correspondence and online communications: emails, texts, Web Folio and networking.

Note: Credits in this course cannot be used toward a major or a minor in English.

Prerequisite: Six credits of First Year English or Arts One or Foundations.

English 301 is offered as a fully online course. The use of a computer and ready access to an Internet connection are required.

Intended Audience

This course should be of interest to students in a variety of disciplines such as commerce, science, education, and the health sciences. It may also be of interest to students in Arts Co-Op and other Co-Op programs.

Course author

Dr. Erika Paterson is an instructor in the Department of English.

E-mail: erika.paterson@ubc.ca

Course Objectives

English 301 is a dedicated writing course offered in an online classroom environment. During the course, you will be expected to work in three ways: independently; in consultation with your instructor; and also collaboratively in writing teams to be established in the first unit of the course.

The course has these major purposes:

  • to introduce you through course readings and activities to the distinctive elements of writing in business, professional, and technical contexts;
  • to provide you with opportunities to practice and perfect the strategies and techniques particular to writing in these contexts;
  • to engage you with your classmates in online discussion, peer review, and the production and analysis of documents produced for business, professional, and technical contexts;
  • to direct you to the considerable resources available to you through UBC’s Career Services unit;
  • to involve you in developing and designing an online Web Folio in two forms: a Linked in profile with accompanying references and a professionally designed website that also presents your resume;
  • to encourage and assist you in reflecting on your writing and developing self-editing skills.

Course Outline

English 301 is divided into four units, each unit has three lessons: one lesson per week.

Unit 1. Principles, Practices and People in English 301 (3 weeks)

In Unit 1, you will meet your instructor and classmates online, build your online site, and you will be introduced to the principles of technical and business writing as set out in the opening chapters of the core course text, Technical Communication, Thirteenth Edition by John M. Lannon; Laura J. Gurak See More. You will be self-organizing into writing teams with which you will work collaboratively at several points in the course. In preparation for report writing you will also focus on one distinctive genre of technical writing: the study and practice of definition for different audiences. Your assignments for this Unit will include focusing on the genre of business correspondence and will involve the study of principles of audience, tone, clarity, and presentation as well as practice in writing particular types of business correspondence.

Unit 2. Designing a Report Proposal; Defining Terms with Audience in Mind (3 weeks)

In Unit 2, the first stage of the formal report project, you will design and submit a report proposal to your writing team. You will peer review your report proposals and send memos to your instructor summarizing your partner’s report proposal. You will explore the Linked-in website and begin the process of creating a social networking strategy, a Linked-In profile, and building your online resume. Resume building is a major project for the semester and will be on-going.

Unit 3. Designing a Report Outline & Draft; Building your Resume and Job Application skills (3 weeks)

In Unit 3, you will take the formal report project to its next stage by first drafting a formal outline and then submitting it to your writing team for feedback, and again a brief memo to your instructor summarizing your feedback. As you work individually on revising and re-drafting the formal report, you will be accessing and working through the resources of UBC’s Career Services website to locate a suitable career-related job advertisement and then to design and write a full job application package for posting to your Linked-in site. Or, alternatively, you can choose to apply for an international volunteer position or a graduate school.

Unit 4. Drafting the Formal Report; Peer Review and Final Report; developing networking strategies (3 weeks)

Unit 4 will focus on the final re-write of the formal report, with emphasis on matters of organization, evidence, audience, and style distinctive to this form. You will also develop a social networking strategy and peer review and complete your application assignments.

Assignments

There are three major writing assignments in this course: the Formal Report, the Application Package on Linked-in and the Web Folio; at the end of term you will present samples of your best work on an online portfolio in the form of a UBC website of your own design and creation.

There are a number of smaller assignments that are both collaborative and reflective – think of these smaller assignments as practice pieces that your instructor will occasionally comment on – and your peers will be reviewing. These smaller assignments will be graded on the basis of writing skills and completeness at the end of each unit. See the grading chart below.

Grading Standards

Assignments in the course will be evaluated according to English Department grading standards and with a view to the particular conventions of writing for technical and professional purposes. Assignments weakened by frequent and basic errors that impede meaning and distract from readability will not be eligible for “A” or “B” level grades and will in extreme cases be assigned a failing grade.

  • The “A” range (80 – 100%)
    Work outstanding in its focus, organization, content, style, and design, with no serious errors of expression or mechanics.
  • The “B” range (68 – 79%)
    Work competent in its focus, organization, content, style, and design, with occasional lapses in strategy and occasional errors in expression or mechanics, none of which seriously impede meaning or readability.
  • The “C-D” range (50 – 67%)
    Work adequate in its focus, organization, content, style, and design, but with some noteworthy lapses in strategy and in expression and mechanics, some of which may impede meaning.
  • The “F” range (0 – 49%)
    Work unsatisfactory and seriously flawed in its focus, organization, content, and style and/or design, and/or work weakened by serious and frequent weaknesses in expression and mechanics, many of which impede clarity and readability. Work that does not accurately and completely acknowledge use of secondary sources in an accepted style of documentation.

Evaluation

Your course marks in English 301 will be distributed as follows:

  • Student Blogs with Reflections: 3 x 5 for a total of 15%
  • Peer Reviews: 6 x 5 for a total of 30%
  • E-mail/ memos 7 x 1 for a total of 7%
  • Formal Report: 18 %
  • Application Package: 12%
  • Web Folio: 18%

Term Schedule

English 301 is offered over a four-month period. Term 1 sections will be offered for the period from September to December and Term 2 sections for the period from January to April. Because you will be working online–collaboratively with your classmates and in consultation with your instructor–acceleration of the course is not permitted.

Please take a few minutes now to take a look at the Course Schedule, which provides you with details about all of the work you will do during the course as well as specific due dates for activities and assignments through the 4 Units. Because you will be collaborating with other students during this course, it is important for you to keep pace with the dates published in the Course Schedule. You will need to contact your instructor and your peer writing team members about any problems you have in meeting these deadlines.

Course Components

Course Texts

The main course text, Technical Writing 13th Edition, is an online textbook can be accessed through this url: https://www.scribd.com/doc/256931986/Technical-Communication-13th-Edition

Technical Communication 13th Edition by John M. Lannon; Laura J. Gura, Pearson, 2014.
ISBN-13: 000-0321899970

You can of course order a hard copy via Amazon as well, but be sure to order the 13th edition.

Course textbooks and readings are intended to set out the principles and distinctive practices or conventions involved in writing for technical and professional purposes. Each Unit begins with your reading of relevant chapters and examples in the principal course text, Technical Writing 13th Edition.

Discussion Forums

The course will include the following forums:

Class Group Facebook page

There is a cost to access this online textbook.The Facebook page will be private, open to the instructor and all class members only. This forum is where you will post all questions with the expectation that your instructor will be on the page on a regular basis. Likewise, your instructor will expect you to monitor the page for comments or instructions.

Writing Team Discussion Forums

You and your classmates will self-organize into writing teams of 4 people each on the basis of the introductory postings on your blogs, and your letters of application and email inquires. You will work collaboratively through the remaining Units of the course. You will also complete and post peer review activities associated with your practice writings. These writing teams activities are intended to foreground student writers and learners and to position instructors in the background. So, the instructor’s role here is to step back to allow students to be heard—in other words, to stay on the sidelines, intervening occasionally to refocus activity or to ensure a good working environment for team members.

Instructor’s Weekly Blog:

The instructor will post a weekly Monday Blog, and sometimes during the week as well. The blog will respond to your writing exercises in general, comment on progress, provide writing tips for common errors with examples and include additional instructions and reflections as the course proceeds.

The Assignments Tool

You will post all of your assignments on your UBC Blog; either in the form of a webpage or as downloadable file.

Notes:

  1. In fairness to students who work hard to meet course deadlines, and in keeping with the collaborative requirements of this online course, late assignments will be assessed a penalty of 5% per day. Accommodations may be made in cases of serious acute illness or other sudden and unforeseen circumstances, provided that adequate documentation is submitted to the instructor in a timely way.
  2. In keeping with the University’s commitment to academic integrity, all assignments using secondary sources—whether the sources are statistical, graphic, non-electronic, electronic, quoted, paraphrased or summarized—must be fully and correctly documented in 2003 MLA or APA style. For further information on these issues, please refer to your textbook: The Concise Canadian Writer’s Handbook, or to the following resources from the UBC library: Plagiarism Resource Centre for Students – http://www.library.ubc.ca/home/plagiarism/
  3. Given the collaborative and intensive nature of the course, instructors will not accept submission of multiple late assignments at any point in the term. In other words, you need to submit your assignments according to the dates outlined in the Course Schedule.

Technology Requirements

First we expect you to have at least basic computer operating skills, such as the ability to use a mouse and keyboard, word-processing software, a web-browser and email.

Word Processor

We recommend that you use Microsoft Word as a word-processor when you are completing assignments for ENGL301, especially since your instructor will often use Word to insert editorial or assessment comments in your assignments.

Web Browser

We are using UBC Blogs to deliver this course, and you will need to use a web browser that is compatible with this environment.

Email client

Most of the communication in English 301 will take place through this course website e-mail account, but you will also need to have access to your own e-mail account. If you have more than one, choose the account you will check most often as your main e-mail contact for the course and let your instructor know the address by the second day of the course. This way, your instructor will be able to reach you in a timely fashion.

Technical Support

For technical support, please send an e-mail to dl.helpdesk@ubc.ca indicating the course name (and section number) and the session you are registered for. To help us troubleshoot the problem, please include in your email specific details about your technical difficulty, such as the error message that you have received, as well as details about your computer operating system (Windows or Mac), type of Internet connection, and the browser (and version number) that you are using.