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FOUNDATIONS OF

TECHNICAL COMMUNICATION
INSTRUCTOR: CHELSEA J. MURDOCK
EMAIL: CJMurdock@ku.edu
OFFICE: 3116 WESCOE HALL
VIRTUAL OFFICE HOURS: TBA

COURSE DESCRIPTION
This course introduces you to the principles of technical communication. You will
learn to organize, develop, write, and revise various technical documents (e.g.
letters, manuals, presentations, proposals, reports, resumes, and websites) often
needed in business, engineering, and scientific settings. The ways in which
professionals in various fields communicate can be specific to that field, but there
are conventions that span the breadth of technical communication. In particular,
this course will center the tenets of professionalism, clarity, brevity, and
“correctness.” This course will develop your ability to engage technical genres with
the professionalism deemed appropriate for the workplace. In particular, the course
is designed with individuals in mind, with each assignment providing the ability for
students to meaningfully personalize the assignment to fit their respective fields
and interests.
Writing is in a state of constant evolution, changing and developing with the
technologies that are developed. Therefore, this course includes an introduction to
general technical-writing software: Excel, PowerPoint, and website generation. With
this in mind, access to the internet is required. Any sites used in the course
structure will be free of charge and accessible.
Prerequisite for this course is the completion of the KU Core Written
Communication requirement.
This course fulfills the prerequisite for ENGL 562 and ENGL 564.

COURSE STRUCTURE
This course is conducted fully online, which means students do not have to be on
campus to complete any portion of it. Students will participate in the course using
the University of Kansas Blackboard system, which can be accessed through
the link at the top of the front page at KU.EDU.
This course is comprised of eight lessons. Each lesson will engage with genres and
principles common to technical communication.

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COURSE REQUIRMENTS
TEXTBOOK

Markel, Mike. Technical Communication. 11th ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s,
2015. ISBN: 978-1-319-00982-3.
You do not need LaunchPad access with this book, so purchasing used or renting will
be sufficient. Also ebooks are a potential option, for those looking to save money.
This textbook will be supplemented by other readings throughout the course.

COMPUTER REQUIREMENTS
If students do not have access to a computer off campus, there are many computer
labs on campus to use to participate in the course. Most public libraries also have
computers with internet access that can be used for free.
You must have to have access to a computer to participate in this course. Students
should also have access to a high-speed internet connection.
Students will need to have an up-to-date web browser, operating system, and some
additional software on their computer to take this class. Check KU Blackboard Learn
for hardware and system requirements. Some of the documents in this course will
be available to students in PDF form. Adobe Acrobat can downloaded by going to
http://get.adobe.com/reader/.

COURSE COMMUNICATION
ANNOUNCEMENTS
Announcements will be posted Blackboard on a regular basis. They will appear on
the Blackboard dashboard upon log in and/or will be sent directly to you through KU
email from the Blackboard system. Usually these announcements will bring
attention to deadlines.
Please make certain to check them regularly, as they will contain any
important information about upcoming projects or class concerns.

EMAIL

You can contact me at any time through the KU email system. My email address is
[FILL]. Emails are usually answered pretty quickly, but please allow for a 12 hour
turnaround on responses. [I do answer emails over the weekend.] When emailing,
please do the following:





Put a subject in the subject box that describes the email content with your
name, week of the course, and message subject. For example:
WK2ASSIGNMENT.
Send email only to [FILL].
Make certain to check your email frequently.
Maintain a sense of professionalism in correspondence.
Do not send messages asking general information about the class, please
post those in the Q&A discussion board forum.
Do not submit your assignments by email, unless otherwise instructed.
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QUESTIONS
In online courses, it is normal to have many questions about things that relate to
the course, such as clarification about assignments, course materials, or
assessments. Please post these in the Q&A which you can access by clicking the
Discussion Board button in the Course Content links. This is an open forum, and
you are encouraged to give answers and help each other.
For each clear and comprehensive answer you give to another student, you can
receive 1 extra credit point for the course (up to 5 points maximum).

DISCUSSION BOARD

The Discussion Board (DB) is a way for you to engage with each other about the
course content. Each lesson module will have a prompt that links to a forum. You
can also access each forum by clicking on the Discussion Board link in the Course
Content links in the left sidebar of the course site.
In order to get full credit for each discussion, you will need to post a thoughtful,
well-written response to the question and respond to two of your
classmates’ answers.
Each post will have instructions included. Make sure to follow those instructions.
Remain professional and respectful in this setting, as with all settings in this course.

VIRTUAL OFFICE HOURS
Twice a week I will be available for virtual office hours – one morning and one
evening session using Skype. [INSTRUCTORS: If you are conducting Virtual
Office Hours, provide your Skype for Business (through KU) contact
information. Skype is preferred, but Google+ is an option. Note: This has
been incredibly useful in prior incarnations of the course and is
suggested.] During virtual office hours, I will respond to chats and to video
conference requests. This expands my ability to engage with your work and your
ability to seek aid and feedback. You must contact me via chat, video
conference, or email at least once in the semester.

TURNAROUND/FEEDBACK

During the week (M-F), I will check the Discussion Board and monitor task
completion several times a day. In my moderation of the Discussion Board,
professionalism is expected and required. Inappropriate material will be removed
and swift action will be taken.

COURSE PARTICIPATION POLICY
As with all courses, participation is essential to your success. In distance
education (online) courses, you are still required to participate in class discussion
and with assignments given in the course.
In order to get full credit for participation, you will have to complete your
discussion board assignments, lesson assignments, and journals by the
appropriate posted deadlines.

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SUBMISSION OF ASSIGNMENTS
All written work in the course must be prepared using Microsoft Word only (see
below). As well, all work must be formatted using MLA style guidelines; for help with
that, consult “Appendix B: Documenting Your Sources” in your textbook. Specific
instructions for written work will be included on assignment prompts. Prompts for
written work will be posted on Blackboard, and you will submit your work to the
Instructor on Blackboard in the same manner.
The following types of assignment submissions will not be accepted:

Work produced in any program other than Microsoft Word;

Assignments sent to the Instructor via email. Students themselves are
responsible for posting their work on Blackboard;

Assignments submitted as PDFs.

GRADING
The course grading system is based on 550 possible points and uses the traditional
90 = A, 80 = B, 70 = C, 60 = D grading formula. For reporting purposes, course
grades will be given as whole grades (i.e., no pluses or minuses).
Grade

Point Scale

A

490–550

B

430–489

C

370–429

D

310–369

F

0–309

Grades will be recorded on Blackboard, which you may access at any time in
order to see your progress in the course.

In addition to requirements specific to the assignment, written work will be
graded on thoroughness of treatment; quality of ideas; correctness
(grammar, syntax, punctuation, diction, tone); appropriate use of specifics,
data, tables, and/or graphic elements; suitable tech comm form; and quality
of document design.

Comments and feedback will be provided for each assignment.

LATE WORK

Late work will not be accepted. Assignments will not be available for completion
after the deadline has passed. If you have an extenuating circumstance, please
contact me by private message before the assignment is due to make alternate
arrangements.
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OTHER COURSE POLICIES
CHANGES TO THE SYLLABUS

Changes to the syllabus will be rare. When they do occur, you will be informed in
writing. I reserve the right to change the syllabus at any time.

Academic Achievement and Access Center
(Accommodations)

The Academic Achievement & Access Center (AAAC) coordinates accommodations
and services for all KU students who are eligible. If you have a disability for which
you wish to request accommodations and have not contacted the AAAC, please do
so as soon as possible. Their office is located in 22 Strong Hall; their phone number
is 785-864-4064 (V/TTY).
Information about their services can be found at http://disability.ku.edu. Please
contact me privately in regard to your needs in this course.

ACADEMIC HONESTY
Intellectual property and integrity are important values for the university
community, so cheating in any form, including plagiarism, will not be tolerated. Any
time a writer uses someone else's idea, words, or work without explicitly citing the
source, the writer has been academically dishonest. Some specific examples of
actions that constitute plagiarism include pasting together uncredited information
or ideas from the Internet or published sources, submitting an entire paper written
by someone else, submitting a paper written for another class (and thus not original
work), and copying another student’s work (even with the student’s permission). In
order to avoid unintentional plagiarism and to represent your work honestly, you will
need to be meticulous about giving credit to any and all sources, whether directly
quoted (even a few words) or paraphrased. Please study the University's description
of and rules concerning academic dishonesty in the Student Handbook as well as
the English Department's description in Composition & Literature. All incidents of
plagiarism will be penalized, reported, and kept on file in the English Department,
the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
Because one of the goals of this course is to help you improve your writing,
plagiarism hurts you as much as it does anyone. If you plagiarize another’s work,
you will not be receiving the needed feedback to improve your own writing. There
will be a zero tolerance policy for any type of plagiarism in this class. All incidents
of plagiarism will be penalized, reported, and kept on file in the offices of the
Department of English, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and University Provost.
Important Note: At the Instructor’s discretion, written work for this course may be
checked for originality using the SafeAssign plagiarism-detection program in
Blackboard. (See also above, under “Grading.”)

POLICY ON STUDENT ACADEMIC CREATIONS

Since one of the aims of this course is to teach students to write for specific
audiences, ungraded student-authored work will be shared with other class
members during the semester in which you are enrolled in the class. Please do not
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submit materials on sensitive subjects that you would not want your classmates to
see or read, unless you inform the instructor in advance that you do not want your
work shared with others. This class, due to its online nature, is going to be very
open and community-driven. Reading peer work will be required. Bear this in mind
when writing for the course. When we start fan fiction, make sure that your fiction is
friendly to a wide audience. Keep it the equivalent of PG-13 or below.

OTHER POLICIES
Be sure to read Composition & Literature thoroughly for all other Departmental
policies.

WRITING CENTER

For help with your writing, I strongly encourage you to contact the KU Writing
Center. At the Writing Center you can talk about your writing with trained tutors or
consult reference materials in a comfortable working environment. You may ask for
feedback on your papers, advice and tips on writing (for all your courses), or for
guidance on special writing tasks. Please check the website at
http://www.writing.ku.edu for current locations and hours. The Writing Center
welcomes both drop-ins and appointments, and there is no charge for their services.
For more information, please call (785) 864-2399 or send an e-mail to
<writing@ku.edu>. The website is loaded with helpful information about writing of
all sorts.

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