English 308

ENGL 308: Professional Writing Technologies

Prerequisites: CORE 101 and 102

Credit hours (3)

In this lab-based, hands-on course, students will produce and critique genres for professional (i.e., public or workplace) audiences using a range of digital platforms, tools, and technologies. Upon successful completion of the course, students will be able to use technology critically, efficiently, and effectively to produce documents primarily for digital environments. In doing so, students will gain skills that employers value, particularly those in professional and technical writing fields.   

Detailed Description of Course

In comparison to creating print-based documents, composing and consuming texts for web- or screen-based environments demands different expectations of writers and audiences. Writers must combine text, graphics, moving images, color, hyperlinks, etc., using various digital platforms, tools, and technologies. Many of these programs require skills that surpass a basic grasp of word processing programs. To this end, students in the course will learn how to navigate the rhetorical, formal, ethical, and technological demands of composing in digital spaces. Topics addressed in the course may include writing and designing basic web pages and blogs using “WYSIWYG” (“what you see is what you get”) editors; designing and writing about usability testing for websites and blogs; using and managing social media sites on behalf of an organization and/or to develop one’s professional, digital presence; creating screen captures and online tutorials; making online forms; optimizing graphics and images; creating infographics; and adapting professional writing genres (e.g., flyers, newsletters, white papers) for web- or screen-based consumption, including on mobile devices. In exploring these topics, students will broaden and deepen their understanding of professional writing technologies. In addition, technologies that support remote and face-to-face collaboration will be addressed. Although English 308 is intended to be a skills-based course, some historical and theoretical readings on topics such as participatory culture, online harassment, viralilty, search engine optimization, and the web 2.0 may be assigned to contextualize the technologies and genres discussed in the course.

Detailed Description of Conduct of Course

The class will take place in a computer lab, and curriculum largely will be hands-on: students will learn through “doing” in an instructor-supported atmosphere. As a professional writing course that focuses on using advanced technologies to plan, compose, and publish public/workplace documents, the course offers instruction and practice in using programs that include but are not limited to Adobe Creative Suite (InDesign, Photoshop, Acrobat Professional, etc.); Wordpress and other WYSIWYG website/blogging builders; Twitter, Instagram, and other social media sites; Camtasia; and Google Drive and Slack. In addition, the course may offer instruction in the advanced features of familiar programs like Microsoft Word and PowerPoint. Instruction in fair use policies, including Creative Commons licenses, also will be addressed. Significantly, professional writing technologies, like most technologies, are dynamic and ever-evolving. The course, therefore, also will emphasize learning for transfer so that students can apply their skills to other contexts beyond those that are or could be addressed in the course. In addition to active, lab-based learning, the course will incorporate a variety of instructional strategies such as lecture, discussion, case studies, and problem-based learning. One or more collaborative projects may be assigned so that students will have practice in using technology to facilitate team-based work. At the instructor’s discretion, experiential learning activities in which students produce documents for a real-world client also may be included in the course. Reflective writing assignments in which students describe and analyze their own processes may be assigned at any point in the course to aid metacognition or learning “transfer.”

Goals and Objectives of the Course

Having successfully completed the course, students will be able to:
    1) Identify various digital professional writing genres and be able to produce them
       using the most appropriate tool, medium, and/or method of delivery
    2) Demonstrate competency in technologies that are used by professional and
       technical writers to produce digitally mediated texts for a variety of audiences
    3) Produce documents that reflect the rhetorical, design, and stylistic needs and
       sensibilities of readers in electronic environments
    4) Use technology and others’ intellectual property ethically and legally
    5) Use technology to facilitate remote and in-person collaboration

Assessment Measures

A variety of assessment measures will be used. Students will plan, write, revise, or edit documents for public/workplace audiences using professional writing technologies, and both their work and processes will be evaluated. Students also may be asked to improve existing documents using professional writing technologies and reflect on their processes. Additionally, they may be asked to critique the strengths and weaknesses of existing documents. Collaborative projects and presentations may be assigned, and students may be asked to produce corollary documents such as a progress report and/or performance review. When theoretical, historical, or other readings are assigned, students may be asked to participate in face-to-face or online discussions using various professional writing technologies. When needed, quizzes and homework will be assigned. At the instructor’s discretion, students may create a portfolio with work from the course and/or the professional writing concentration or minor to demonstrate mastery of course learning objectives and/or aid the job search.

Other Course Information



Review and Approval

March 27, 2017