Welcome to Technical Writing!

Astounding May 1951 cover
Cover artwork by Rogers, Astounding Science Fiction, May 1951. Note the sliderule bisecting the cutaway of the human head in the image, which evokes technology as a mind amplifier, or the cyborg-like fusion of human and computing-augmentation artifact.

I would like to welcome you all to our Fall 2019 Technical Writing class!

We’re going to work together to learn what technical writing and technical communication is, and how you can leverage technical writing in your other studies and future career.

We’ll use this OpenLab site to coordinate what we’re doing each class, post assignments, share opportunities and resources, and collect some of your work.

Use the menu on the left to find important information about the class in the Syllabus, explore Examples of Technical Communication, read urgent Announcements about the class, find Daily Writing assignments for the beginning of class, follow the workflow of the major Projects in the class, and finally, discover invaluable Opportunities for your success.

 

And, you can email me at jellis at citytech.cuny.edu or visit my office in Namm 520 (at the end of the hallway). My office hours at between 4:00PM-5:00PM on Tuesdays, but I’m happy to arrange other times to meet if you let me know what your availability is over several days.

Announcement: Recent Articles in the New York Times of Interest

As we discussed earlier this semester, you should claim your free digital subscription to the New York Times to have access to some of the best journalism around.

Two articles this morning caught my attention that might be of use to you all. The first is about email signatures, which if you haven’t setup yet, you should. The second is about the fact that we live a big part of our lives online and we should comport ourselves accordingly. In addition to keeping up with what’s going on in the world, the New York Times and other newspapers regularly have articles with useful information for professionals and workplace best practices.

Project: Report on Collaboration, Website, and Submission

In this post, we’re wrapping up discussion of your collaborative projects, which are due on Dec. 17. The last three components are the Report on Collaboration, Website, and Submission Post on our OpenLab site.

First, the Report on Collaboration should be a single memo written in Google Docs and finalized with a sharable link, which you can add to your Submission Post on our OpenLab site. Your memo should begin with a standard header (to, from, date, subject). Please include all team member names under “from,” address it to Prof. Ellis, and give it the subject “Report on Collaboration.” The first paragraph should be written together as a team and it should give an overview of how the team worked together, and it can include descriptions of what worked well and what didn’t work as well. Each paragraph after that should be written individually by each team member and each should have a header “Your Name’s Contribution.” From your individual perspective, what did you contribute to the team’s project and how would you approach collaborative work in the future (consider communication, delegation, digital tools and services, and other ways of facilitating team work). After you’ve read through it and corrected spelling and grammatical mistakes, create a sharable link and add the link to your Submission Post on our OpenLab site.

Second, your team will create an OpenLab Project Site for your team’s website. This is a WordPress-based site similar to our course site, but you will have control over how it looks and feels. Follow these directions to create your Project Site, and refer to these guides to customize your Project Site with your own content. We will walk through creating a site during tonight’s class. Your site should have some customization (e.g., changing the header image and changing the theme), and the content that you add should be presented across pages linked from the site’s menu (e.g., Introduction, Problem, Solutions, About). Think of your website as an online summary of the writing that you’ve done in your report. The website makes the main points easy to read and digest. You should include a link to your full report in the introduction. For example, you can write: “This website presents a summary of the report titled “Our Awesome Report,” which was prepared for an assignment in Prof. Ellis’ ENG2575 class.” Select the title of your report and add a link to your Google Doc’s sharable link.

Third, in addition to giving your presentation on the last day of class on Dec. 17, your team will create one post on our OpenLab site. In general, follow these directions for creating your post, but make one change: go to Document > Categories > Student Work > check “Collaboration Project.” The title of your post should be: “Collaborative Project: Title of Your Report.” In the body of your post, write it in a memo format like this:

TO: Prof. Ellis
FROM: All team members' names
DATE: Dec. 17, 2019
SUBJECT: Collaborative Project: Your Report's Title

Write one short paragraph summarizing your project's problem and identified solutions.

Below we are including links to our project deliverables:

REPORT, Your Report's Title > link to your research report Google Doc's sharable link
PRESENTATION > link to your Google Slides' sharable link
WEBSITE > link to your OpenLab Project Site's URL (note: the URL should be to your Project site, not your Project Profile--if the directory "groups" is in your URL, then you are on the Project Profile. Click the Visit Project Site link to go to your Project Site)
REPORT ON COLLABORATION > link to your report on collaboration Google Doc's sharable link

Double check your links and then click Publish and then click Publish on the screen that pops up. Have another teammate verify that the post is published on our OpenLab site and click all four links to verify that they work and open the correct documents. If anything is wrong, the team member who created the Submission Post can click the title of the post, scroll to the bottom and click “Edit,” make the necessary changes, and then click “Update” in the upper right corner.

Finally, we will discuss all of this during class tonight. Take that opportunity to ask Prof. Ellis questions. Email Prof. Ellis with questions after class. He is available by appointment with individuals or teams, too (time permitting). Also, we can resolve last minute issues during our last class either before or after the presentations are completed.

Project: Collaboration, Presentation

We’ll talk about other elements of the presentation, which I will include below following discussion:

7 to 10 minutes

1 page, double-spaced = 2-2.5 minutes reading time

3-5 pages, double spaced = 7-10 minutes spoken presentation material

Scripts are okay—printed, not handwritten.

Use Google Slides (for collaborative writing and getting a sharable link to submit your work)

Images that you use must be your own

No text-heavy or many bulleted list text

Let the slidedeck anchor what you have you to say.

KISS

Project: Collaboration, Research Focus on Problem and Solutions

Remember that your project should first identify a problem of a scientific or technical nature.

Your research using the library, other sources, and primary research with interviews and surveys, should explore what the problem is, how it came to be a problem, what is its history, and what is its context (what does it impact, relate to, etc.).

The next phase of your research should focus on solutions to the problem. Of course, you need to understand the problem well before delving too deeply into possible solutions, so do research on the problem first. Then, armed with that knowledge, research possible solutions to the problem.

The results section should present the facts/quotes/figures from your research. The discussion section should talk about what these mean and how they related to one another (you can combine the results and discussions sections if your team would like to do so–just label it as such). Conclusions establishes why your research is important–why is the problem and its solutions important? Finally, recommendations are your synthesis of the problem and solutions into actionable recommendations that should be implemented, based on your research and expertise, to solve the problem.

Project: Collaborations, Phase Three

As discussed in class, the following are the major deliverables for this project and the method for submission of those deliverables. We will go into more depth on these after the break. They are being presented now as a big picture view of the project.

The major deliverables are:

  • Research Report > Google Docs > Shareable link
  • Presentation > Google Slides > Shareable link
  • Website > Create an OpenLab Project > link to site
  • Reflection Report > Google Docs > Sharable link

Turning in Your Collaborative Project (due before the last day of class)

Have one team member create a post on our OpenLab site.

Title of your post: Collaborative Project, Your Title

Body of your post:

Title of your project

Byline for all team members

Write 2-3 sentences summarizing your project and its recommendations.

State project deliverables are linked below.

Create a bulleted list

– Link to your Research Report

– Link to OpenLab Project Site

– Link to Google Slides for Presentation

 – Link to Reflection Report

Daily Writing: Extra Credit

For today’s class, I asked everyone to read another relevant magazine article for a writing exercise. Considering how little time is left to work on your collaborative projects, I am converting today’s daily writing assignment to extra credit for those who wish to complete it. Simply write a memo addressed to Prof. Ellis summarizing your article in 250 words, include one quote with parenthetical citation, and include an APA-formatted reference at the end of your memo. Copy and paste your memo into a comment to this post to receive your extra credit.

Also, keep in mind the last day of class is the last day to submit any late assignments in the class. If you need to catch up or revise an assignment, do so before the last day of class and send an email to Prof. Ellis letting him know what assignment(s) he should check for you. You may also email your late or revised work directly to Prof. Ellis. All email correspondence will be acknowledged, so if you don’t hear back from Prof. Ellis, touch base with him in class.