Course Introduction

Greetings!

Welcome to ENGL 3880: Writing for Business and Industry! I have been working in collaboration with folks in the business world, mostly as a consultant, for about five years now. I have taught courses in business writing and related topics at the college level for over ten years. I also have my Ph.D. in Rhetoric and Writing from Michigan State University. I’m currently an Assistant Professor (meaning on the track toward tenure) of Technical and Professional Communication here at ECU.

I’m excited to share some of the insights I’ve gleaned during these various professional experiences with all of you.

In the interests of helping you acclimate to my style of teaching, here are some highlights of this course website, and thus the course itself, that you’ll want to keep an eye on:

  • Deadlines – I’m a big fan of deadlines, both hard and soft, and so I tend to scaffold assignments pretty tightly.
    • The best place to check for hard deadlines is always the schedule page, from which you can view the schedule for each course module, or learning unit, as it’s posted. All deadlines for each module can also be found within the module itself.
    • Your first hard deadline is 8/26/15, when Homework #1 is due by the start of class.
    • I will also include soft deadlines as steps within the modules. These deadlines that are not required, but you are encouraged to meet them to stay on pace with the assignment.
  • Technologies – As this is an online course, it is obviously going to be technology-driven. In this regard, there are three main technologies to concern yourself with: WordPress, Eli, and Blackboard.
    • WordPress is the Content Management System that runs our course website. If you ever have problems with it, I invite you to first be good technological problem-solvers and take a look at WordPress’s excellent documentation, both within the CMS itself and on their website.
    • Eli is a peer review technology we’ll use to share our writing with each other. They have a very robust support section on their website, so check their first if you have any problems.
    • I’ll assume you’re all familiar with Blackboard and so won’t go into that one, except to say that all you’ll be using it for is turning in assignments and downloading readings.
  • Interactions – I like to think of teaching as a series of interactions during which knowledge is made. The main interactions of this course are: homework assignments, modules, discussion in class, and small group work.
    • Homework assignments and their due dates can be found via the schedule page, under the schedule specific to each module. So, for instance, if you go to the schedule for module #1, you will see that homework #1 is due to Blackboard by Wednesday, 8/26/15 by the start of class. Homework assignments will always be the first thing due when we start a new module.
    • Modules are larger assignments that are due about every 1.5 weeks. You can see modules as they’re posted on the modules page, but like everything else, they’re included in the main schedule.
    • You are encouraged to post and discuss stuff (questions, comments, interesting news articles, whatever) on the course website and in class that you think your peers would like to hear about, and every homework assignment after the first one will require you to do so. That way we have a nice active online and in-class community with interesting content constantly being discussed.
    • Much of the work you produce in this class will be done collaboratively in small groups. Research has shown that peer interaction in classrooms of all levels is highly beneficial to learning and fosters better peer support. At the same time, the current economy requires collaboration for pretty much any profession worth having, so this small group work will also be a form of training to prepare you for the world beyond this classroom.
  • Reaching me – All my contact info is available on the syllabus page, which of course you should read through thoroughly in case you have any questions or concerns about any course policies (you’ll be prompted to do this for homework #1).
    • I’m pretty much always available via email and phone during normal business hours (M-F 9-5). I am slower to respond on weekends, but still check my email.
    • I have obviously also worked hard to build a robust course website with a lot of information and interactivity, so please do read through it before asking me simple questions like “when is such-and-such due” or “how do I access X?” If you can’t figure out how to do something or are struggling in any way, the best way to reach me is to post a comment on the course website itself. I will receive an email every time you post something to the website, so it will be the equivalent of emailing me, and often another student will beat me to the punch with an answer to your question. Most importantly: other people who have that same question will see it and the answer that gets posted, saving us all a lot of lead time.
    • Of course I have traditional office hours posted on the syllabus page. You can call or chat with me via Skype or Google during those times as well. It’s best to make an appointment with me if you want to talk outside class, just to ensure I haven’t stepped out for a moment when you stop by or call. I am also available for appointments outside of these hours.
  • Service-learning – This class is also a specially designated service-learning section, meaning a lot of the writing we do will be for a client: the Community Crossroads Center. What this means is that you should recognize that by continuing in this class, you are making a commitment do your utmost to meet the needs of the above-mentioned community partner.
  • Working hard – If you aren’t intimidated by the massive course website or omnibus introductory post, I should just mention that I teach a tough class. I also provide a lot of support, however, so if you’re willing to work hard, ask questions, and engage with the material, you should be fine. If you are NOT fine, reaching out to myself and your peers early and often is always the best response. If you are feeling lost in the course, which can often happen when working in online learning environments, touching base with another human being can help ground you and get you back on track. I have high expectations for students, particularly graduate students, but I don’t want anyone struggling needlessly. That’s what the assignments are for ;-).

Service-Learning Section