Upcoming Course Offerings
Writing Software Documentation
Instructor: Pinfan Zhu
Description: Numerous software applications and programs are created every year. Our daily life and workplace life are inseparable from using these software tools for different purposes.Thus, writing software documentation becomes one of the important skills a technical writer must command in his/her professional career. English 5314 is just such a course that develops students’ expertise in the management and production of writing for both print and online media that supports the efficient and effective use of software in its intended environment. Major genres include software and hardware manuals such as tutorials, procedures, and reference. Students will also learn how to manage projects, how to address issues of user analysis, text design, page design, task-oriented manuals, and translation management. The class is basically discussion-based, but we do have other class activities such as exercises, group critique, team project on usability test. Since the class is mainly online, you have to use my teaching website, TRACS, Adobe Connect for class meetings and other reference websites. Most activities will be conducted online, so students need to learn how to use some online tools for their assignments or presentations. Details will be found in the syllabus. We meet every Tuesday and Thursday from 5:30 to 9:50 pm for a summer session, and you mainly complete assignments, projects, and exercises on Thursday evenings.
• 10% Exercises
• 20% Chapter quizzes
• 30% 3 short projects: tutorials, procedures and references.
• 10% Usability design and implementation report
• 30% Proposal for your semester project and the Semester project
Office: FH M18
Phone: (512) 245- 3013
UX and Usability Research
Instructor: Dr. Aimee Roundtree
Description/Goals: This course explains how to plan, conduct, and analyze usability and UX research to understand the way users interact with different products, in order to improve the products. It situates both within the field of audience analysis, and it covers the principles and methods of this form of applied research. The course covers concepts of UX and usability research in the context of relevant literature, as well as best and new practices in the field. The course also offers hands-on learning experiences with the UX and Usability Research Laboratory. The course requires planning, designing, and conducting usability and UX research, then analyzing data and reporting the findings.
• Observing the User Experience: A Practitioner's Guide to User Research, Second Edition.
• Measuring the User Experience: Collecting, Analyzing, and Presenting Usability Metrics, Second Edition.
• Quantifying the user experience: practical statistics for user research
• UX Research: Practical Techniques for Designing Better Products
• Research Methods in Human-Computer Interaction
Evaluation: User Tests, Report, White Paper or Book Review, Presentations, Reading Responses
Office: FH 313
Phone: (512) 245-2317
Digital Writing and Culture
T 6:30-9:20 pm; FH G04
Instructor: Deborah Balzhiser
Description/Goals: This new course topic is currently under development. It is aimed at students (from any graduate program) interested in studies of rhetoric, writing, and technology. I’ll refine this broad statement over the summer. As I do, it will still be the case that students can focus their assignments according to their own interests so long as they sit at the intersection of core course concepts, digital communication technology, and culture. Donna Haraway tells us that “Technology is not neutral. We're inside of what we make, and it's inside of us. We're living in a world of connections—and it matters which ones get made and unmade.” In this class, we’re concerned about those connections, what gets made and unmade, and how and with what consequences. What happens when individuals, groups, organizations, culture, are mediated? What does it mean for our habits and behaviors that a digital platform has a share button? What happens when you add an upvote feature? We’ll use a computer and writing lens, particularly McLuanesque meets posthumanism, to explore and better understand relationships between features of digital technologies and culture. We’ll focus on a few key disciplinary conversations, but there are so many possibilities we could fill years of classes. As such, students will each be able to apply our theories, thinking, and research to their own areas of interest so long as it is at the intersection of our core conversations, writing, digital technologies, and culture. While we won’t cover all of these topics directly, students might consider such guiding questions in their assignment responses: How is [a given communication technology] situated within a historical trajectory (e.g., the pen, the phone, virtual reality)? How does the design of a [specific technology or feature thereof] effect bodies (e.g. gender, abilities, size, etc.)? How does the presence of this [specific feature] change our habits or behaviors? How does access or use of technology divide people politically or economically? How our interpersonal relationships or communities impacted by [a specific instance of a specific digital technology]? In what ways are the [specific instance of a digital media] racialized or gendered? How does [a specific instance of digital media] serve to complicate, diversify, deconstruct or recreate cultural and social boundaries in the understanding class? How might [a specific application or use of a digital technology (existing or new)] offer alternatives for a particular identity or community?
Books: Expect 100 (± 20) of reading each week. I am currently considering texts. Some main contenders are anything from the Polity Press series Digital Media and Society (e.g., YouTube, Twitter, Search Engine Society); Valls & Vie’s Social Writing/Social Media: Publics, Presentations, and Pedagogies; Leaver’s Instagram: Visual Social Media Cultures (Digital Media and Society); McKee’s Digital Writing Research: Technologies, Methodologies and Ethical Issues (New Dimensions in Computers and Composition); John R Gallagher’s; Douglas Eyman’s Digital Rhetoric: Theory, Method, Practice (Digital Humanities); Vincent Miller’s Understanding Digital Culture. There will also be assigned articles. Texts that might be good for you but may be too specific for everyone include Wachter-Boettcher’s Technically Wrong: Sexist Apps, Biased Algorithms, and Other Threats of Toxic Tech; Eubanks’s Automating Inequality; Noble’s Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism; Jackson’s #HashtagActivism: Networks of Race and Gender Justice. Maybe consider Kernighan’s Understanding the Digital World: What You Need to Know about Computers, the Internet, Privacy, and Security. Popular press readings of interest might include Johnson’s Everything Bad Is Good for You, Carr’s The Big Switch or The Shallows, Turkle’s Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less From Each Other; Standage’s Writing on the Wall: Social Media—the First 2,000 Years. People tend to like Clay Shirky—and he has TED talks.
Evaluation: Probably 3 short scholarly texts [1 must be mediated] (30%), 1 medium-long scholarly text [MATC must mediate] (20%), 2 technology demos (10%), presence (5%), weeklyish homework (10%), in-class activities (5%), weekly online reading & technology discussions (20%)
Office: ASBN 101A (inside the University Writing Center) The best way to reach me
Phone: (512) 245-7660 (second best way to reach me)
Email: email@example.com (not at all the best way to reach me)
T 6:30-9:20 pm; Online
Instructor: Dr. Scott Mogull
Description/Goals: In this editing course, we will cover professional copyediting skills and the publishing industry. The first half of the course is similar to an advanced undergraduate course in editing. In the first part of the course, you will learn the foundations of sentence-level editing and you will have weekly editing practice assignments that we discuss in class (becoming an effective copyeditor requires a lot of hands-on practice as well as and openness to alternative solutions). The second half of this course explores editing management and publishing. In this part of the course, students will learn comprehensive editing, electronic editing, and the fundamentals of digital publishing. In this graduate course, students will research and prepare training (or teaching) presentations that cover advanced editing skills, software, and management issues in editing. Students will the conduct an online training session (presentation) to the other students in the class (the training presentations will be the type of presentations that a manager would provide to a team of editors or technical writers). Upon successful completion of the course, students will be prepared to work as editors or lead editors in professional settings.
Books: Technical Editing (5th ed.) by Rude and Eaton. Pearson.
Anticipated course assignments and weight are as follows:
• Weekly Reading Quizzes 25%
• Foundations of Editing Exam (Midterm) 25%
• Homework (“Homework” only, not workshop activities) 25%
• Training (Teaching) Presentation 25%
Office: FH 137
Phone: (512) 245-3718
W 6:30-9:20 pm; Online
Instructor: Pinfan Zhu
Description: The world today is full of visual images. Mass media such as television, cinemas, films, magazines, advertisements, internet, billboards, advertisement, books, videocassettes, etc., are all inalienable from visuals. In technical communication, use of visuals is even more important. Few technical documents or presentations could be considered as effective without the help of visual elements. Naturally, it is important that we learn to use visuals effectively. The goals of English 5313, Visual Rhetoric, are to develop students' visual intelligence and train their visual literacy so that they are able to properly interpret, critically analyze, and effectively use visuals both in technical communication and other fields. Specifically, students will learn principles of visual perceptions such as Gestalt theories, the use of rhetorical theories, design theory, semiotic theory to interpret, analyze, and create visuals. They will also understand the rhetoric of images and design, and the use of five cannons in document design. Topics cover the study of document design, typographic applications, and the interpretation and analysis of images. On the whole, the course will be interesting and practical. I hope you will enjoy yourself immensely by taking this course. The course is a hybrid one. We will meet online on Wednesday evening from 6:30 pm to 9:20 pm. The other three face-to-face online will be in Round Rock in room 456. The dates for these meetings are 8/27, 10/17, and 12/05.
Books: Charles Kostelnick Designing Visual Language: Strategies for Professional Communicators and Carolyn Handa Visual Rhetoric in a Digital World. A Critical Source Book.
• 20% Reading responses (5 responses)
• 20% Class exercises
• 20% Three short papers
• 15% Analytical paper
• 5 % Photoshop project
• 20% Document Design Project
Office: FH M18
Phone: (512) 245-3013
Topic: Writing for Publication
M 6:30-9:20 pm; Online
Instructor: Dr. Miriam Williams
Description: Because of the interdisciplinary nature of Technical Communication, publication opportunities exist in academic journals, trade publications, popular magazines, and online. This Writing for Publication course will introduce students to our field's publishing standards and processes. The course will also provide students an opportunity to revise previously written work for consideration for publication.
Course Objectives/Goals: Students in this course will learn to 1) analyze publications and audiences for their work, 2) provide feedback to peers using criteria from various professional publications, 3) submit a manuscript for review by external reviewers, 4) revise and submit a manuscript based on feedback from external reviewers, 5) create the front and back matter required for professional publications, and 6) submit a manuscript for consideration for publication.
• Selection of appropriate publication for your work (Short proposal, abstract, and cover
letter to editor) 20%
• Weekly peer reviews and revision 20%
• First Submission to external reviewers 20%
• Second Submission & Summary of Revisions Letter 20%
• Submission to Publication 20%
Office: FH 132
Phone: (512) 245-3015
Topic: Proposal Writing
TH 6:30-9:20 pm; Online
Instructor: Dr. Aimee Roundtree
Description/Goals: The course will engage students in searching for public and private funding sources and writing grant proposals for real-world funding needs. They will use print and electronic tools for identifying funding sources, preparing proposals, and making professional presentations. They will learn about the grant cycle and budgeting basics, as well as databases and other resources for identifying funding opportunities.
1. Winning Grants Step by Step: The Complete Workbook for Planning, Developing and Writing Successful Proposals, 4th Edition
2. Creating winning grant proposals: a step-by-step guide
3. Grant Writing: Practical Strategies for Scholars and Professionals
4. The Field Guide to Fundraising for Nonprofits: Fusing Creativity and New Best Practices
Evaluation: Book Review, Letter of Intent, Proposal, Presentations, Reading Responses
Office: FH 313
Phone: (512) 245-2317