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English 5106: Technical Writing in the Digital Age
Summer 2018 (CRN 56613)
Fully online, 3 credit hours


Dr. Chip Rogers
Email: chip@chipspage.com
Website: www.chipspage.com

Office: Arts and Sciences (COAS) 203
: (478) 471-5366
Office hours: Tu 11:00-12:30 and by appointment



The MGA Catalog indicates that English 5106 "provides intensive and advanced study of principles and strategies for researching, planning, composing, and revising technical documents and workplace communications in the digital age. It promotes nuanced and effective use of language, sophisticated analysis of purpose and audience across a wide spectrum of disciplines and workplace environments, and rhetorical and document design strategies to craft succinct and optimally readable documents in a variety of genres and delivery platforms."

Student learning outcomes: Students will

  • analyze purpose and audience considerations in a range of rhetorical workplace contexts;
  • analyze, evaluate, and implement principles of document design; 
  • conduct in-depth and advanced research in a substantial formal proposal;
  • craft optimally readable documents in various genres;
  • work collaboratively in small-scale projects and one project larger in scope.


bulletAdmission to the Graduate Certificate in Technical Writing and Digital Communication program, or permission of Program Coordinator (me, Dr. Rogers)


bulletRequired: Technical Communication, by Mike Markel and Stuart A. Selber, 12th edition, Bedford/St. Martin's, 2018, ISBN 978-1-319-05861-6

bulletGently recommended, not required:The Non-Designer’s Design Book, by Robin Williams, 4th ed., Pearson, 2015, ISBN 978-0-13-396615-2

Final grade breakdown and Instruments of evaluation

 Threaded discussions
150 pts.
 Launchpad assignments
200 pts.
 Individual projects
250 pts.
 Collaborative projects
200 pts.
 Formal report
200 pts.

Threaded discussions: This component of your grade is determined primarily by the frequency and quality of your contributions to the threaded discussions focusing on assigned readings. You should participate with thoughtful, meaningful contributions in each unit's discussion. Threaded discussions must be posted prior to the deadline to receive credit, and you would do well to engage in discussions early and late in each unit.

It is essential that you read all posts by your classmates (and me) each unit. Threaded discussions approximate class discussion in a face-to-face class, and just as students in traditional classrooms cannot just share their contributions and leave the classroom without hearing and benefiting from what others say in discussion, you should not just contribute your posts to discussions without attending to what everyone else has to say. Students who post only on the last day of any unit will receive no higher grade for that unit's discussion than a B; students who fail to read at least 80% of classmates' postings each unit will receive no higher grade than C.
So post and read others' posts at least two or three days each week!

Launchpad assignments: These activities in Macmillan's Launchpad online companion for Markel and Selber's Technical Communication textbook include chapter quizzes and adaptive learning exercises developing your mastery of rhetorical concepts and fundamentals of grammar and style.

Individual projects: generally brief writing assignments in a variety of genres, implementing principles emphasized in the readings.

Collaborative projects: documents and other assignments generated through teamwork with your classmates. Project grades are uniform for all team members.

Formal report: This assignment of moderate length involves collaborative planning, research, and composition. You will have a range of topic options.

Course, Departmental, and University Policies

Textbooks: The textbook ordered for this class, in the correct edition, is mandatory.

Participation: Although this online class is in some respects independent study, due dates apply and your timely participation in discussions is essential. Your grade will be adversely affected by anything less than diligent, conscientious participation in threaded discussions and all other course activities. Be especially mindful of "pulling your weight" with integrity and professionalism in collaborative assignments.

Late work: Threaded discussions are not accepted late. All other late work will lose 5% per calendar day late. I accept no work more than two weeks late. To reiterate particularly, threaded discussions must be posted prior to the deadline to receive credit.

Plagiarism: Except for assignments expressly calling for collaborative effort, all written work must be your own. Any unacknowledged borrowing from the writings of others will be considered plagiarism, a serious breach of academic integrity. I will submit cases of plagiarism or other academic dishonesty for review by the Student Conduct Officer. The penalty for plagiarism in this class is an "F" for the entire course, not just the assignment in question. 

The Department of English's more specific definition of plagiarism is operative in this class:

1. It is plagiarism to copy another’s words directly and present them as your own without quotation marks and direct indication of whose words you are copying.  All significant phrases, clauses, and passages copied from another source require quotation marks and proper acknowledgment, down to the page number(s) of printed texts.

2. It is plagiarism to paraphrase another writer’s work by altering some words but communicating the same essential point(s) made by the original author without proper acknowledgment.  Though quotation marks are not needed with paraphrasing, you must still acknowledge the original source directly.

3. Plagiarism includes presenting someone else’s ideas or factual discoveries as your own.  If you follow another person’s general outline or approach to a topic, presenting another’s original thinking or specific conclusions as your own, you must cite the source even if your work is in your own words entirely.  When you present another’s statistics, definitions, or statements of fact in your own work, you must also cite the source.

4. Plagiarism includes allowing someone else to prepare work that you present as your own.

5. Plagiarism applies in other media besides traditional written texts, including, but not limited to, oral presentations, graphs, charts, diagrams, artwork, video and audio compositions, and other electronic media such as web pages, PowerPoint presentations, and postings to online discussions.

Withdrawal Policies: Students are encouraged to read the withdrawal policy found at  http://www.mga.edu/registrar/dropadd.aspx before dropping/withdrawing from the class. Students may withdraw from the course and earn a grade of “W” up to and including the midterm date (July 3, 2018 for full-session summer classes). After midterm, students who withdraw will receive a grade of “WF.” A WF is calculated in the GPA as an “F.” Instructors may assign “W” grades for students with excessive absences (beyond the number of absences permitted by the instructor’s stated attendance policy). Students may withdraw from a maximum of five courses throughout their enrollment at Middle Georgia State. Beyond the five-course limit, withdrawals result in “F” grades. 

Class Behavior Expectations and Consequences for Violations: Middle Georgia State University students are responsible for reading, understanding, and abiding by the MGA Student Code of Conduct. Student Code of Conduct, Responsibilities, Procedures, and Rights are found at https://www.mga.edu/student-conduct/index.php.

MGA Policy on Disability Accommodations: Students seeking academic accommodations for a special need must contact the Middle Georgia State University Office of Disability Services in Macon at (478) 471-2985 or in Cochran at (478) 934-3023. See http://www.mga.edu/disability-services/

“Technical Policy” (re: plagiarism detection): a plagiarism prevention service is used in evaluation of written work submitted for this course. As directed by the instructor, students are expected to submit or have their assignments submitted through the service in order to meet requirements for this course. The papers may be retained by the service for the sole purpose of checking for plagiarized content in future student submissions.

End of Course Evaluations: Student evaluations of faculty are administered online at the end of each term/session for all courses with five or more students. Students will receive an email containing a link to a survey for each course in which they are enrolled. All responses are anonymous.

The Bottom Line

I hope every member of this class gets an A, and I will do all I can to make this happen. Don't get me wrongthe standards for "A" work are high, and I make no exceptions in course policies on participation, missed assignments, plagiarism, or late work. The number-one key to succeeding in this class is that you take responsibility for your own success, meaning that you attend to all assignments with careful, earnest diligence, that you respond positively to any setbacks and heed my feedback on all assignments, and that you seek my help as much and as often as you need it. I guarantee you have one of the most accessible professors at Middle Georgia State: ask for help outside of class, and I'll do my level best to deliver

I know this is a "distance course," but if you are in the Macon area I'd enjoy meeting you in person and I strongly encourage you to see me in the office for help with any course matters large or small throughout the semester. I also encourage students near and far to telephone me in the office. Don't be bashful about seeking my one-on-one attention outside the "virtual classroom"!

Addendum to the syllabus:

bulletEnglish 5106 schedule of readings and assignments.