English 362: Foundations of Technical Writing
Hybrid Course Lessons

Module 1: Introduction to Technical Communication

Module Contents:
    Textbook Readings
    Supplementary Readings
    Peer Review
    Back to Syllabus
    Back to Course Index Page

This module covers the following topics:

  • Course and professor introduction
  • What is technical writing?
  • Who is a technical communicator?
  • Semester and syllabus overview

Here's a video welcome and course orientation from Chris McKitterick, course instructor and KU Technical Communication Liaison.
It's about 14 minutes long and provides an overview of the online version of the course, a syllabus walk-through,
a course website walk-through, and course goals. (Note: I made this when the course was online-only, so keep that in mind.)

video platform video management video solutionsvideo player

Because this is a new version of this course, check the syllabus and modules frequently,
as I will continue to add new content and update the website and modules throughout the semester,
including new (short) videos. Many modules will also soon contain an "Examples" section.

Textbook Readings

None this week, but order (or pick up) your textbooks if you haven't yet to get ready for next week.

It's a good idea to get a head-start on next week's readings; it's always a good idea to check ahead to get an idea of what we'll be doing. Here are next week's readings:

Supplementary Readings

"Technical Communication" defined - we'll probably discuss this in class, but look it over on your own, too - especially if we don't have time in class. Lots more handouts and links to excellent readings are also available on the Handouts page.

If you haven't yet taken a look at the course syllabus, go check it out now. I'll wait. It handily lays out the entire semester in one place, plus contains all the information you'll need to succeed in this course.

This Week's Discussion

Throughout the semester, we'll chat in class and online about the readings, assignments, and related matters. Keep in mind that we only have one hour for our live get-togethers, so bring in your most-pressing questions! You'll find the topics and discussion-leader assignments in this section of each Module.

This week's topics:

  • What is technical writing?
  • Who is a technical communicator?
  • Survey responses.
  • Semester and syllabus overview.
  • Intro to course website.

Discussion leader: Your teacher leads the first week's Blackboard forum discussion, but everyone else gets involved as usual.

Starting in the second week of class with Module 2, this space will suggest some online-discussion prompts for each week's student-led module discussions. Discussion leaders usually start the conversations by noon on Monday. Everyone gets involved right away, but feel free to continue dropping in to read and respond to new posts throughout the week. Everyone is required to lead at least two discussions, and everyone is required to participate in these discussions with useful responses to the discussion leaders' prompts, or at least in response to other comments in the discussion forum. Provide useful responses and thoughtful, creative ideas to help everyone get as much as possible out of the discussions. Your participation level - even when not leading discussions - strongly affects your semester grade, so get fully engaged every week!

We also have a permanent Q&A thread in the Blackboard discussion forum where you can ask your instructor and fellow students questions that others might also be wondering about. In addition to getting answers to your questions, this also saves your teacher from having to respond to the same question 22 times, so it's good for everyone! Of course, if you have a question about a private matter, feel free to drop me a question at cmckit@ku.edu

Rating Discussions

Please also rate your fellow students' posts and responses each week: If your discussion posts earn high ratings (more stars) from your peers, this gives a bonus effect at semester's end so do your best when posting discussion prompts and responding to others' posts. At the same time, the "star" rating for semester-end bonus doesn't work unless everyone participates....


Survey due to Blackboard by noon this Friday: Tell us a little about yourself! No need to share this with a peer-review partner. Instead, share some things about you in this week's discussion forum topic.

Drive-Car procedural document due to Blackboard before next class (next Wednesday by 5:00pm). At first glance, this seems like a simple project. The conceit here is that a man has just hired you to write him a document about how to drive a car from the Kansas City airport to campus, and he's already paid you. However, after a bit of research, you realize you've gotten yourself into something you hadn't expected. This is all about being able to get out of your own point of view and put yourself into the place of an audience who is very different from you... and for whom terms we take for granted like "accelerator pedal" and "stop sign" are technical terms. We will peer-review this next week.

Due next week: Analysis of a good technical document.

Due next week: Drive-Car procedural document, which we will also peer-review next week.

After completing each assignment, make sure to back it up (I recommend using a low-cost USB flash device like this or a Web service like Dropbox) before you turn it in or send it to your peer-review partner. Even if you are late creating a project, you can often avoid getting zero points for that assignment by completing it and turning it in to Blackboard late. Be aware that turning in late projects could harm your peer-review partner's score, as well, so be thoughtful.

Turn in most projects via Blackboard (see this tutorial for instructions on how to get and submit projects via Blackboard). Use the appropriate Blackboard assignment slot (for example, "Drive-Car"). Please don't turn in projects via email unless requested.

Peer Review

Required by next week: Exchange your Drive-Car procedural document with a partner of your choice. When you complete your responses, turn in the peer-review that you wrote for your partner's project in the appropriate Blackboard assignment slot (for example, "Drive-Car Peer Review") and return your comments and markups in the document to your partner.


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Last updated 8/24/2015.