Welcome to English 301: a course in Technical Writing
At the moment, there are 40 students registered in the course, so we are a big group of writers. And, as you all know by this stage of your academic careers, writing courses are intensive.
Writing is like most all of the arts: painting, playing the piano, or dancing; they all require you learn techniques and you practice those techniques – frequently. Writing is also like sports; the more you practice, the more adept and successful you become. Some things seem to never change, like the requirement of commitment and practice to gain expertise, and some things consistently changing, like the ways we communicate.
English 301 online is designed to meet the challenges of changing technologies and globalized communications that confront professional and technical writers. This course also teaches writing techniques and protocols and ethics that do not seem to change so very much, even when applied cross-culturally. Techniques like writing with a “YOU attitude” – the YOU is your reader(s).
This course is also designed to take full advantage of online teaching and learning. You will be presenting all practice work online on a UBC website that you will build. Most assignments belong “in-house.” This means, your work is available to everyone involved in the “project,” or, in our case, this course of studies. No one “out of the house” should have access to our practice work. You will learn to set up an online forum and websites to ensure your privacy. This is an important point to take note of now; you are the administrator of your online sites and as such, you are responsible for setting up privacy controls.
We will also be creating documents that are addressed to an outside audience, these include: 1) a Formal Report designed to address a problem that needs solving — of your choosing, 2) an Application to either a job, or an international volunteer position, or a graduate school [the choice is yours], 3) A Linked In profile, and finally a Web Folio that will be your final project and takes the place of a final exam. Again, there is no final exam, but rather the presentation of a Web Folio at the end of term.
Working online allows us to collaborate and to benefit significantly from the varying levels of expertise your peers offer: some of you will be in your third year of an undergraduate degree, some of you are working on second degrees, and some of you are taking this course as a part of a second degree while, at the same time, working professionally. This course has been designed to accommodate and challenge a wide range of expertise, and by working together you will each contribute to our collective learning experience: teaching and guiding each other, and yourselves, through peer reviews, self-editing, and reflective writing. It is advisable to self-edit assignments immediately after receiving feedback. It not advisable to leave the essential task of self-editing until the end of the semester.
My role as your instructor is to guide you through your readings and provide feedback that will enable you to improve your technical writing techniques and strategies. Which brings us back to how big we are, as a group; too big for me to comment on your work individually — with any depth. In order to provide you all with in-depth feedback and editing examples, I will keep an Instructor’s Blog. Every working day I will be reading your assignments, taking notes on common errors to provide you with lists of writing tips, and selecting examples to demonstrate writing that fulfills the criteria — and examples of writing that need editing. I will edit examples of your work for you with commentary. If confusion arises as to which example to follow: the textbook or the Instructor’s Blog, please use the Instructors blog.
In other words, the Instructor’s Blog is central to your progress and replaces individual evaluation and commentary for each writing assignment. Instead of assigning grades to all of the many and varied writing exercise you will produce, I will evaluate your individual progress at the end of each Unit: every three weeks. You can see the breakdown of these grades on our Grading Standards page.
You should go to the Instructor’s Blog now, thank you.