This course is part of the Professional Writing and Editing (PWE) program at WVU. The PWE program is dedicated to preparing its students to complete a capstone internship experience and, ultimately, for careers as professional communicators. For this reason, many aspects of the course are designed to replicate professional work experiences, and all students are expected to conduct themselves like professionals in the course. As is the case with professionals, students are expected to attend and be on time to all class meetings; to come to all class meetings prepared; and, generally, to respond to course activities and assignments as they would to comparable work activities and assignments.
Due to the nature of the course, you will be sharing your work with your fellow classmates as part of workshops and peer review sessions. Additionally, you will share your work publicly on the Web (e.g., on this course site) and with the WVU community at your book reading. By taking this course, you are indicating that you accept these requirements; if you have any questions or concerns about them, please contact me immediately.
If you have questions about the readings, assignments, or any other issues related to the course, I will be happy to answer them. I will generally be available before and after our class meetings, and I will hold regular office hours each week. My office hours this semester will be on Tuesdays from 11:30-12:30 and Wednesdays from 10:00-11:30. If you would like to meet with me but are not free during those times, please contact me directly and I will be happy to schedule an alternative meeting time that fits both of our schedules. If for some reason it becomes necessary for me to cancel or reschedule my regular office hours or a meeting with an individual student, I will notify the class or the student as soon as possible using one of the methods described in the next section.
In addition to our face-to-face class meetings, there will be two primary avenues of official communication for the course: WVU email and this website. I will initiate official communication to the class or individual students via my WVU email account. I will send these messages to your MIX emails. Updates to the course site—such as changes to the course schedule, or additional information about assignments—will be posted to the blog on this site. I may sometimes duplicate messages in other media—for example, I might post on Twitter that I have added a new blog post to the course site or that I have sent everyone an important email—but, in order to make sure you don’t miss important information, you should regularly check your MIX accounts as well as this site. We will also communicate via other means, most notably via Twitter and comments on documents on Google Drive.
My tendency in course communication initiated by students is to respond in the medium in which the message was sent. For example, if you ask me a question on Twitter, I will tend to respond on Twitter (assuming the answer can fit in a tweet and is suitable for public view); if you ask a question in a comment on a document in Google Drive, I will respond in a comment on that document; if you send me an email, I will email you back.
I will do my best to respond to your messages within 24 hours during the work week (M-F); on the weekends my responses may take longer.
Adopting new technologies
In this course, we will be experimenting with many different technologies for writing and reading, ranging from services like Twitter to software packages like Adobe’s InDesign to markup languages like HTML5 and CSS. As experimenters, our method will be trial and error. In this course you may be introduced to a new way of communicating that you find indispensable. Alternatively, you may find yourself using technologies that you cannot imagine yourself using again outside of the course, and you may experience these technologies as being difficult or simply irritating.
That is ok.
You are not required to love the technologies we experiment with or embrace them without question. What is required of you is that you approach all of our assignments with an open mind and your best effort, as a future professional experimenting with different modes of communication.
While we will have specific, detailed instruction on the various markup languages associated with EPUBs and related features of HTML5, it will not always be possible for us to cover the uses of all technologies touched on in the course. I do expect that when we discuss specific technologies in class you will take notes so you will have a guide to follow when it comes time for you to use these technologies. However, on some occasions you will find that you need to use a technology or piece of software that is new to you but which we have not discussed in class. In such a case, although I will attempt to help you as best I can, I expect that you will take the initiative to research the technology in question and master it in the context of your book. For example, you may want to add an HTML5 feature to your book that isn’t covered the course readings or discussions, like SVG animations. It would then be your responsibility to discover the correct means of using that feature in your book for the purpose you intend.
In all cases, when faced with new tools and technologies you should expect to devote some time to experimenting with and learning these technologies, researching (or discovering) their possibilities and limitations, and, when possible, sharing what you have learned with your classmates when they need help.
While I will be available to answer your questions and help you troubleshoot technology issues, if you have a question about a particular technology you will find that, in most instances, other people have had the same question and the answer is either in our course readings or available on the Internet.
If this process does not solve your problem and you need to consult me, please remember that the more detail I have about your problem, the easier it is for me to help you solve it. If you email me saying
I’m trying to create my book, but I’m stuck. Help!
I don’t have much to go on. I better email request is
I was using Terminal to zip my book, but when I enter the code on p. 121 of Castro’s book, I get a ‘file not found’ error! Help!
In many cases, it is most helpful if you not only describe your problem, but also share with me the files that you are having trouble with.
Using technologies in class
You are welcome to use the computers in the lab during class for note-taking and activities that are relevant to the tasks at hand; you are also welcome to bring your own devices for these purposes. However, there may be some occasions when I will ask you to turn off computers and other devices for a period of time. In general, most technology is welcome in class as long as it is used to aid student learning. Technology that doesn’t serve this purpose—or that actively distracts you or your classmates from learning—is not welcome, and I reserve the right to restrict the use of these technologies in class.
Computer classroom policies
We will meet in a computer classroom. Food is strictly forbidden in the classroom. You may bring drinks into the classroom, but they must be kept on the floor.
In this class we will cover a large amount of information in our face-to-face meetings that will be essential to how you understand the course topics and eventually complete your assignments. We will also be learning a number of skills that you will be expected to develop incrementally over the course of the semester. For these reasons, it is important that you attend class, arrive on time, bring any assigned work and necessary materials, and participate in all in-class writing, workshopping, and discussion sessions.
There are no “excused” absences in the course. For this reason, you should reserve your absences for truly unavoidable emergencies. Each student will be allowed four (4) absences without it affecting his or her grade. For each absence over four (4), the student’s final grade for the course will be lowered by 5 points. This includes absences for illnesses and other emergencies.
It is also important that you be in class on time and stay for the entire period. If you arrive to class more than 5 minutes late or leave class more than 5 minutes before it is dismissed, you will be counted absent. Further, if you come to class unprepared on the day of a peer-review session, conference session, or workshop—that is, without a draft to discuss with your classmates or myself or unprepared to workshop your project—you will be counted absent.
If you find that an unavoidable conflict prevents you from attending class or being on time, you should discuss this conflict with me prior to the absence (if possible). Otherwise, you should contact me about any absences as soon as you are able to do so.
If you cannot attend class on the date an assignment is due, you should discuss a make-up date with me before the absence. If you do not contact me before the time an assignment is due, the assignment will be considered late. In general, a problem with technology will not be considered an acceptable excuse for late or incomplete work. If your computer malfunctions, it is your responsibility to find a different place to work. If your Internet goes out, you will need to find a different access point. And you should create multiple redundant backups of your work in case you accidentally erase, overwrite, or otherwise lose your files.
Major assignments turned in after they are due will be penalized by ten percentage points for each calendar day they are late. Homework, quizzes, and all other in-class assignments will not be accepted late. If you fail to attend class on the day you are scheduled to lead a class discussion or give a presentation, you should expect to receive no credit for that assignment.
Submitting course work
Unless otherwise noted, all course assignments will be submitted electronically. I will inform you of the method and procedures for submitting particular assignments before those assignments are due. Unless otherwise noted, all assignments are due before the start of class on the day they are listed in the course schedule.
Research, plagiarism, and scholastic honesty
Although we will spend substantial time in the class discussing the remixing and reuse of others’ work, it is vitally important that you fully acknowledge the original author(s) or source of all material that you include as part of your assignments, at every stage of revision. Without that citation, you can cause confusion as to the authorship of your work, and taking someone else’s published or unpublished ideas and submitting them as your own constitutes plagiarism and will result in formal academic discipline. In general, if you turn in work that is not your own, in whole or in part, without adequate attribution to the original author, or if you commit any other form of scholastic dishonesty, these actions will result in either a major course penalty or, depending on the severity of the violation, failure for the course. If you have any questions about the use you are making of sources for an assignment, you should counsult me before the assignment is turned in.
For a complete discussion of what constitutes plagiarism and relevant WVU disciplinary procedures, students should consult the West Virginia University Undergraduate Catalog (pdf) and the West Virginia University Student Conduct Code.
Social justice policy
West Virginia University is committed to social justice. I concur with that commitment and expect to maintain a positive learning environment based upon open communication, mutual respect, and non-discrimination. Our University does not discriminate on the basis of race, sex, age, disability, veteran status, religion, sexual orientation, color or national origin. Any suggestions as to how to further such a positive and open environment in this class will be appreciated and given serious consideration.
If you are a person with a disability and anticipate needing any type of accommodation in order to participate in this class, please advise me and make appropriate arrangements with the Office of Accessibility Services. Accessibility Services, formerly the Office of Disability Services, has moved to Suite 250 at 1085 Van Voorhis Road (beside Applebee’s and across from the Mountaineer Station transportation center). The OAS phone number is 304-293-6700 and the email is firstname.lastname@example.org. You can access the OAS website at http://accessibilityservices.wvu.edu/.