English 573/679: Writing for the Web

Instructor: Mr. Michael Stowe

Office: Siceluff 341

Phone: 836-5167

Office Hours: MWF 2:15–3:30 PM

Email: michaelstowe@missouristate.edu

Important notice about classroom time

Know up front that this class is only for completing the task at hand that I've assigned. You are here to learn, to treat everyone respectfully, and to work hard on material related to our course. During our class period, you may not use your cellphone, personal electronics, or classroom's computing resources for anything unrelated to our course. Do not leave the room to use your cellphone or personal devices. If you cannot abide by this policy, drop the class now, or you will face consequences, as covered under the participation and conduct policy later in this policy statement. Distracted students disrupt not only themselves but also their peers and for me, and it won't be tolerated. This notice is your one and only reminder.

Required texts

Castro, Elizabeth, and Bruce Hyslop. HTML and CSS: Visual Quickstart Guide. 8th ed. Berkely, CA: Peachpit, 2014.

You can buy the platform-independent e-book directly from the publisher. Try coupon code IFBD45 at checkout for 45% off, making the e-book $17.59. If that code doesn't work, try using coupon code POP35, making the e-book $20.79. A Kindle version is available through Amazon.com for $14.40.

Fenton, Lynda. Writing for the Web: Creating Compelling Web Content Using Words, Pictures, and Sound. Berkely, CA: New Riders, 2012.

You can buy the platform-independent e-book directly from the publisher. Try coupon code IFBD45 at checkout for 45% off, making the e-book $13.19. If that code doesn't work, try using coupon code POP35, making the e-book $15.59. A Kindle version is available through Amazon.com for $14.39.

Robson, Elisabeth, and Eric Freeman. Head First HTML and CSS, 2nd ed. Sebastopol, CA: O’Reilly, 2012.

A Kindle version is available through Amazon.com for $7.80 to rent or $16.12 to buy.

If you prefer to use a tablet or e-reader for your textbooks, bring your device to class fully charged or bring a charging cable, and use the device solely for class purposes, or you may lose the privilege of using your electronic textbooks in class.

You will need to bring the current text with you to every class period. Also, you will need to print or read on screen additional assignments during the semester. I’ll let you know how to access these materials at the appropriate time.

Purpose

In English 573/679, we will focus on creating effective information-based websites. During the semester, students will create content-rich webpages using the HTML5 markup language and CSS3 presentation language. In using these languages to create webpages and websites, students will not only improve their online organization and writing skills but also learn how to read and write standards-compliant code using only a plain-text editor. Moreover, students will learn how to create sites that are flexible, accessible, and concise and in doing so will separate content from presentation, which is the hallmark of the modern, standards-based, semantic approach to the web.

Computer requirements

To meet the computer requirements in this course, you must:

You will also need to purchase a domain name and hosting for publishing projects. Don't make such a purchase, however, until we've had time to discuss these issues as a class. For those unable to afford this purchase, I'll provide an accommodation at the appropriate time.

Attendance

Your attendance is mandatory. If you can't attend this class regularly, you should drop now. Frequent absences will lower your semester grade because you will miss important instruction and participation points. If you miss a class, you're solely responsible for finding out what we covered and for turning in any work that's due. Moreover, if you miss often, I won't grade your projects until your attendance improves. Finally, absences determine whether you may opt out of the final exam; see the Final Exam section for more information. For the purposes of calculating final exam exemption, an absence—excused or unexcused—counts as an absence. If you are tardy, leave early, or leave class for more than a couple of moments, you will receive half an absence for the class period.

Tardiness and early departures

You need to arrive on time and be ready for class when it begins. You must also stay for the duration of the class period. Arriving late and leaving early is disruptive. Frequent tardiness or early departures may result in your dismissal from the course. If you must arrive late or leave early, inform me of the situation beforehand. Also, I take roll only once, at the beginning of class. If you arrive late, you're solely responsible for getting on my attendance form; otherwise, you'll remain marked absent, and I won't change attendance records after the date of the class meeting. Again, for the purpose of attendance and participation, a tardy or early departure counts as half an absence.

Final examination

This course has an objective, comprehensive final examination over the course content. If you have one or fewer recorded absences, you may opt out of the final examination. Remember that a tardy or early departure counts as half an absence and that both unexcused and excused absences count toward taking the final examination.

Participation and conduct

This course includes participation grades. Each class period, we will complete in-class work and activities that require your presence and active, undivided participation to complete and to receive credit for. You must also bring your USB flash drive and textbook to every class; you may not participate without them. You may not make up missed in-class work and activities.

To receive each day's participation points, you must be present for the entire class period, complete the assigned activity, and behave professionally. Class begins as soon as I enter the classroom, which means you should put away anything distracting at that time. During class, you must work only on the assigned activity.

While we're conducting class, DO NOT use your cellphone or other electronic devices for any reason unreleated to our class activities! Likewise, DO NOT use the computers for anything unrelated to our class activities! Accessing your email, checking Facebook or other social media sites, surfing the web, using your cellphone in any way, or doing work for other classes is strictly forbidden! If you violate this policy, you will be asked to leave for the remainder of the class period, and you may not return until you agree to comply with the course policy. In addition, you wil be counted absent and lose all credit for any missed class periods, and you may no longer opt out of the final exam, regardless of the number of missed classes. If you would like to do something during class time that runs counter to this policy, such as use your email account to back up files you're working on for this class, clear the usage with me, or you risk my thinking you're intentionally violating class policy. Repeat violations will result in your permanent dismissal in accordance with the university's class disruption policy.

Our classroom uses LanSchool networking software, and I will use this software to monitor your work during class time. I also can project and shut down any activity on your workstation. If I suspect you're misusing computing resources during class time, I will take appropriate actions, without warning, to stop you from abusing your computer privleges. Such actions include my remotely logging you out of any software or your workstation without first saving your work.

If you have a valid, documented absence, you may not lose participation points at my discretion.

Cellphones and electronic devices

The provost's cellphone policy is as follows:

As a member of the learning community, each student has a responsibility to other students who are members of the community. When cellphones or pagers ring and students respond in class or leave class to respond, it disrupts the class. Therefore, the Office of the Provost prohibits the use by students of cellphones, pagers, PDAs, or similar communication devices during scheduled classes. All such devices must be turned off or put in a silent (vibrate) mode and ordinarily should not be taken out during class. Given the fact that these same communication devices are an integral part of the university's emergency notification system, an exception to this policy would occur when numerous devices activate simultaneously. When this occurs, students may consult their devices to determine if a university emergency exists. If that is not the case, the devices should be immediately returned to silent mode and put away. Other exceptions to this policy may be granted at the discretion of the instructor.

In other words, you are not allowed, by university policy and by class policy, to use your phone in any way during class. Silence your phone before class starts, and put it away until class ends. Do not answer it in class or leave the class to take a call. Do not read or write text messages during class. I may make an exception to this policy but only if you've discussed the situation with me first. Remember that violating this policy can lead to serious ramifications.

Assignment deadlines

I don't accept late work. To maintain fairness, assignments are due at the established date and time, not at your convenience. If you have a valid reason for missing a deadline, contact me immediately. I may decide to accept your work upon hearing your rationale and reviewing your documentation. If you don't use class time effectively, for example, you won't receive any deadline extensions. If I do accept your late work, I reserve the right to assess whatever penalty I deem appropriate and to place your work at the bottom of my work to grade. Submitting work improperly (such as forgetting or neglecting to submit work electronically by the deadline or uploading the incorrect file), being held up in another building or at work, experiencing computer or peripheral problems, and attending university activities aren't valid reasons for missing a deadline. Note due dates and plan accordingly, double-check your work prior to submitting it, and confirm that you submitted the correct material by the deadline.

Project submission

Projects you submit must be professional in content and appearance and should merit inclusion in your writing portfolio. Projects must also meet the guidelines established in respective assignment sheets and in class discussions. These guidelines will include the manner in which you submit the work. Additionally, projects must adhere to the principles of quality technical communication. That is, the writing you submit must be clear, concise, complete, honest, accurate, and thoroughly proofread. Further, any material you submit must be solely your work created specifically for this course during this semester. I will penalize severely or not accept projects that fail to meet these criteria.

As you will discover throughout the course, the guidelines for web authoring and publishing differ significantly from what you’re used to, both in terms of writing and design. Of course, I expect you to learn and apply these guidelines as the semester progresses.

Email

You receive feedback on work and other course information via your university email account. In addition, I'm happy to answer questions through email, but your message must clearly identify you, contain a relevant subject line, and convey a professional tone and message throughout. (If you've never read about "you attitude," now's a good time to do a Google search for the phrase.) In other words, when you write, address me as you would a supervisor. Do not write to whine about your work schedule; express frustration with me over things I can't control, such as open lab hours or your inability to install trial software; chastise me for enforcing policies, and so on. Also allow reasonable time for a response; I don't constantly access my email.

If you ask a question, especially about something that may require an elaborate reply, send an email message back to me if you've resolved the issue since you sent the prior email. Please don't make me spend time researching the issue and replying to you only to discover you didn't need the response after all.

Finally, don't submit projects to my email account without prior approval. Faculty are on a different email server, which filters out some types of attachments, so I may not even receive your attachment or email message.

Academic integrity

Missouri State University is a community of scholars committed to developing educated persons who accept the responsibility to practice personal and academic integrity. Students are responsible for knowing and following the university's student honor code, Student Academic Integrity Policies and Procedures, which is also available at the Reserves Desk in Meyer Library. Any student participating in any form of academic dishonesty will be subject to sanctions as described in this policy.

All work you complete for a grade, including all writing assignments and tutorial exercises, must be solely your work completed for this class during this semester. Cheating, plagiarism, and lying have serious consequences in this course. At my discretion, the sanctions range from losing credit on the assignment to failing for the semester. Serious violations could result in your receiving an XF grade. Copying and pasting information wholesale from a source, for example, will earn you an XF for the semester. If you don't know whether a practice is plagiarism, ask me immediately. Ignorance isn't an excuse.

Nondiscrimination

Missouri State University is an equal opportunity/affirmative action institution and maintains a grievance procedure available to any person who believes he or she has been discriminated against. At all times, you have the right to address inquiries or concerns about possible discrimination to the Office for Institutional Equality and Compliance, Park Central Office Building, 117 Park Central Square, Suite 111, (417) 836-4252. You may discuss other types of concerns (that is, academic concerns) with your instructor or your instructor’s department head.

Disability accommodation

Before I can give you an accommodation for a disability, you must work through the proper channels. To request academic accommodations for a disability, contact the Director of the Disability Resource Center, Meyer Library, Suite 111, (417) 836-4192 or (417) 836-6792 (TTY), http://www.missouristate.edu/disability/contact.htm. Students are required to provide documentation of disability to the Disability Resource Center prior to receiving accommodations. The Disability Resource Center refers some types of accommodation requests to the Learning Diagnostic Clinic, which also provides diagnostic testing for learning and psychological disabilities. For information about testing, contact the Director of the Learning Diagnostic Clinic, (417) 836-4787, http://psychology.missouristate.edu/ldc.

Emergency response

At the first class meeting, students should become familiar with a basic emergency response plan through a dialogue with the instructor that includes a review and awareness of exits specific to the classroom and the location of evacuation centers for the building. All instructors are provided this information specific to their classroom and/or lab assignments in email prior to the beginning of the fall semester from the Office of the Provost and Safety and Transportation. Students with disabilities impacting mobility should discuss the approved accommodations for emergency situations and additional options when applicable with the instructor. For more information go to http://www.missouristate.edu/safetran/51597.htm and http://www.missouristate.edu/safetran/erp.htm.

For our classroom, if we have a severe-weather warning, leave the classroom and congregate in the 3rd-floor hallway, away from any windows. If we have to evacuate because of a fire, gas leak, etc., exit the building, and head toward the lower level of Plaster Student Union.

Dropping the course

You're responsible for understanding the university's procedure for dropping a class. If you stop attending but don't drop the class properly, you will receive a failing grade and will also be obligated to pay for the class. For more information on dropping this or any class, contact the Office of the Registrar, (417) 836-5520. You may also wish to refer to the university's academic calendar for the various drop deadlines.

Staying in the course

By remaining in the course, you acknowledge you have read and agree to follow all the policies covered in this document. If you do not agree to adhere to these policies, you must drop the class.

Grading criteria

Know up front my standards are high, and grading will be tough but fair. In assessing your writing, I rely upon the following grading criteria established by Dr. Sam Dragga of Texas Tech University:

A = 90–100% The document is superior. It exceeds all the objectives of the assignment. The information is ethical, sophisticated, thorough, and ideally suited for the audience. The style is clear and appropriate to the subject, purpose, and audience. The organization and design of the document make the information understandable, accessible, and usable. The mechanics and grammar are correct.
B = 80–89% The document is good. It meets the objectives of the assignment, but requires minor improvements or reveals easily correctable errors in organization, style, design, grammar, or mechanics.
C = 70–79% The document is adequate. It omits useful information or requires significant improvement in organization, style, design, grammar, or mechanics. It may be formally correct but superficial in its discussion.
D = 60–69% The document is disappointing. It meets some of the objectives of the assignment but ignores others; the discussion is inadequately developed, omits important information, or displays numerous or major errors in organization, style, design, grammar, or mechanics.
F = below 60% The document is unsatisfactory. It omits critical information, does something other than the assignment required, or displays major or excessive errors in organization, style, design, grammar, or mechanics.

I won't answer questions about grades on projects until you have thoroughly reviewed my comments and the grading criteria. In addition, I won't assign incomplete semester grades except in extraordinary circumstances, such as a documented family emergency.

I will calculate both project grades and semester grades using the same scale listed above. In other words, this class does not use plus-and-minus grading.

Projects and grades

The projects in this class are designed to prepare you for situations you will encounter as a workplace writer. Remember, too, that you are enrolled in an upper-division class. I have high expectations from your writing, editing, proofreading, and work, and I will evaluate your projects accordingly.

Graduate students enrolled in the English 679 section of this course will complete more extensive work than undergraduate students enrolled in English 573. The additional requirements are mentioned in more detail in each specific assignment sheet. In summary, though, graduate students will conduct deeper, more scholarly research for their web projects, the result of which will mean more detailed, in-depth websites containing more webpages than those of their undergraduate counterparts. The research conducted should be thorough enough to generate potential concepts and content for a degree paper (whether the graduate student ultimately decides to pursue such a paper is, of course, entirely at his or her discretion). Moreover, during presentations of work to the class, graduate students must speak for longer periods and offer practical instruction to their classmates, so they must possess and show a more intimate knowledge of the subject matter to provide clear explanations and illustrations of important concepts. During class discussions, graduate students will be held to a higher standard to earn their participation points. They should help facilitate conversations, ask meaningful questions, and bring insightful commentary. Their participation should set the standard for class discussions. They should also offer to demonstrate their work to their classmates and to volunteer to assist undergraduate students during periods set aside for individual work and peer review. Finally, graduate students' work will be assessed more vigorously and should serve as a model to other students in the course.

The following is a list of projects and respective point values.

Project Points possible
Tutorials 150 points
Web résumé 200 points
First website 200 points
Second website 200 points
Participation 150 points
Comprehensive final 100 points
Total score for English 573/679 1000 points

If you're eligible to opt out of the final and choose to do so, your total score will be based on 900 points instead of 1000 points.

I reserve the right to change the types of projects and assigned point values should the need arise. Any changes will be announced and discussed in class.