Welcome to ENGL 6700: Information Design and Production
A Bit About Me
I have been working in collaboration with folks in the technology sector, mostly as a consultant, for about eight years now. I have taught courses in technical communication and related topics at the college level for around 15 years. I also have my Ph.D. in Rhetoric and Writing from Michigan State University. I have been researching and practicing design for about five years.
I’m stoked to share some of the insights I’ve gleaned during these professional experiences with all of you.
How This Class Works
In the interests of helping you acclimate to my style of online teaching, here are some highlights of this course website, and thus the course itself, that you’ll want to keep an eye on:
I’m a big fan of deadlines, small and large, and so I tend to scaffold assignments pretty tightly.
- The best place to check for 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 deadline is 1/22/21, when Homework #1 is due by midnight ET.
As this is an online course, and an online design course no less, it is obviously going to be technology-driven. In this regard, there are two main technologies to concern yourself with: WordPress and Canvas.
- 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.
- I’ll assume you’re all familiar with Canvas 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.
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, and discussion on the course website.
- 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 Canvas by Friday, 1/22/21 at Midnight ET. Homework assignments will always be the first thing due when we start a new module.
- Modules are larger assignments that are due every 3 weeks or so. You can see modules as they’re posted on the modules page, but like everything else, they’re included in the main schedule.
- Finally, you are encouraged to post stuff (questions, comments, interesting news articles, whatever) to the course website 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 community with interesting content constantly being posted.
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 virtual office hours listed in the syllabus when you can talk to me via Skype or Google hangout.
- 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.
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 ;-).