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Assignments

This course is organized around four major assignment units that will provide the content for your final project, the digital portfolio. All assignments must be accompanied by a formal letter of transmittal. Peer editing response sheets should be exchanged digitally so that both the author and the editor keep copies. Don't panic. We will discuss this at length in class. 

Peer editing. We will go over an editing strategy in class. Actual editing assignments should be done in a "track changes" format such as MS Word, that allows both in-text mark-up and a comment bar. Make sure that you are familiar with how to use these and capture your marked-up documents before these assignments are due. 

Letters of Transmittal (LOT). These are common letters in the tech and business world and typically accompany longer formal documents and reports. See, for example, Executive Summary letters that accompany annual reports for any publicly traded company. Here's one by Mary Barra (yeah, right. Her tech writing team wrote it. Trust me.) for General Motors 2015.

Yours will be shorter and will introduce your document and explain your rhetorical choices and processes. 

Assignment #1. Employment application documents. You will find a job description and customize a resume and cover letter for that specific position. Final submission of this assignment will include a letter of transmittal, the job description, resume, and cover letter. Submission type: Canvas doc/docx, LOT, no peer edits. 

Assignment #2. Information page. Find a faculty member or campus organization in need of an information document, specifically one that describes a concept or technology (not instructions). You will keep notes from your conversations with your interviewee--the professor or organization representative. OR choose one of the topics below and conduct your own research (document your sources) Submission type: PDF; LOT, subject matter expert (SME) notes and/or research documentation.  

Depending on your professional interests, you may choose to do one of the following projects: 

Explain a concept​

Habeus corpus, herd immunity, The Voting Rights Act, DACA, typeface pairing, Non-Newtonian fluids, entropy, homeostasis, rhetoric, machine learning, peak oil, public health

Explain a technology

Autoclave, mass spectrometer, PDF compiler, Snapchat Spectacles, wallpaper TV, Nutrigenomics, Naloxone

Assignment #3. Instructions. This is a multiphase project that includes process analysis, writing and designing instructions (including images) for both hard copy and electronic formats, performing and documenting usability testing, and writing a report on your findings, including recommendations for moving forward. Your deliverables will include the instructions themselves, documentation of usability testing, informal (memo style) reporting of the test results, and a more extensive LOT than has been necessary for the earlier assignments. Submission type: Canvas doc, docx, or PDF; LOT.

Assignment #4. Formal reports or proposals. You will work with a real-world organization to write a formal report that addresses a real need. Formal reports include Feasibility Studies, Plans of Work, Progress Reports, Proposals, Reporting Scientific or Scholarly Data, and others. Campus organizations and local non-profits are typically delighted to have this kind of help and I will help you locate an organization if you'd like. Submission type: Canvas, doc, docx, or PDF, LOT. 

Assignment #5. Electronic portfolios. Using the technical and business documents that you have created in the class, you will build an electronic portfolio that showcases your best work as a technical writer and editor. You may use the software, apps, or hosting of your choice. I really like wix.com, because it's free and easy to use.  

 

If you already have a professional website with writing samples, you can add a new page with your tech writing samples--just make sure that the link you send me takes me directly to it. One of the criteria that I will use to evaluate this portfolio is how user-friendly it is, so you don't want readers to have to hunt for the appropriate content. 

Your website/portfolio must contain the following (revised) components.

  1. Some kind of brief introductory material for the whole site (or section of existing site) that introduces the content, eg, "this site presents samples of my technical and business writing and editing." 

  2. Some kind of brief introductory explanation of what each sample is. 

  3. Resume (no cover letter required)

  4. Information page

  5. Instructions

  6. User testing memo from instructions package

  7. Formal report or proposal

  8. Editing sample/s (one required, three recommended, especially if you are considering editing work)

You can use these as menu items, buttons, or segments in a vertical scrolling single page. 

Evaluative Criteria

This course is designed to mimic a real technical and business writing situation. Unlike school projects, in real writing jobs, you almost never submit a document and it's done. You submit it, get comments, and revise it--often in many iterations. Now that you've read my comments, read your peers' comments, and learned a whole semester's worth of skills, and had lots of hands-on experience, you can submit a portfolio of work that represents all of this and evaluated cumulatively rather than incrementally. So, here's what I'll be looking for in the portfolios. 

  • Relevant design choices

  • Cohesive and consistent brand identity

  • All of the required components

  • Professional tone

  • Easy-to-use interface

  • Evidence of audience analysis--your audience for this is potential employers

  • Clean copy 

Submission type: Submit the link on Canvas. No LOT