Course Information

Technical Writing
ENG2575, OL70
Fall 2021
Online Asynchronous

Contact and Office Hours

Professor Ellis
Virtual Office Hours: Wednesday 3:00-5:00pm on Google Hangouts or by appointment.

Course Description

Technical Writing is about managing complexity. It is about providing the right information, in the right way, for the right audience, at the right time. It is about communicating technical ideas using sound rhetorical choices and synergistic modalities (e.g., WOVEN, or written, oral, visual, electronic, and nonverbal) while maintaining the highest level of professionalism and ethics. In this class, you will have invaluable opportunities to learn the theory, skills, and heuristics of technical writing through projects relevant to your degree program, and you will develop a set of documents that you can include in your professional portfolio.

Learning Objectives and Prerequisites

ENG2575 Course Learning Outcomes

Expectations of Students in an Asynchronous Class

  • Classes require investment of time, energy, and work for successful learning and skill building. At a bare minimum, this is a three-credit hour class, which means the time that students should devote to watching lectures, taking notes, asking questions (via email or office hours), and completing weekly assignments should be about three hours per week.
  • As a rule of thumb, students should spend twice as much time per week as the credit hours of a class on assigned readings, homework, and projects. Since this is a three hour class, students should expect to spend six hours per week on these things. Due to some projects being smaller and others larger, these six hours per week can be thought of as on average–sometimes you might need to spend less than six hours per week and other times you might need to spend more.
  • Due to the college’s approved course learning outcomes (see link above), there are required collaborative projects in this class. Students are expected to make every effort to work with their team throughout the semester–beginning with peer-review and progressing to the large collaborative project. The baseline means of communication for each team will be via your institutional email account. However, I encourage students to discuss and devise other means of communication that facilitate the work in the class, such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Slack, Discord, etc. (with the understanding that all team members can use them for free and that all team members have the required resources to use a given communication technology–otherwise, a different choice must be made to accommodate the needs and capabilities of all team members).
  • Each student should be meeting deadlines on assignments and following through on all team-based responsibilities volunteered or delegated. But, in the event that you can’t follow through on something, you should email Prof. Ellis and your teammates about the situation. While all situations don’t have to be explained (e.g., a personal emergency), each communication about not fulfilling a responsibility should include concrete and specific asks–may I have this much extra time, may I deliver this file to you by this date and time, etc. Politeness (e.g., please and thank you) and professionalism (being collegial, respectful, clear, etc.) can go a long way!
  • No one should suffer in silence in our class. Put another way: communication is key to your success in the class. Students should email Prof. Ellis or visit weekly office hours to discuss the class, assignments, and teamwork. Especially considering the collaborative work, it is imperative that each team keep Prof. Ellis in the loop about any challenges or problems within a team so that he can arrange an intervention. Additionally, maintain communication with your teammates about your availability, completing tasks, asking questions, etc.

Required Texts

Required Resources

  • Computer access, word processing software, and a means of saving your work securely.
  • Access to your City Tech email.
  • Access and accounts at and other designated web sites.
  • Cloud-based storage for saving a backup of all your work.
  • Google Drive/Gmail account for collaborative writing.
  • Other communication software or services that are freely available and decided on by each team (e.g., Microsoft Teams, Discord, Slack, text messaging, phone calls, etc.).

Grade Distribution

Individual: Weekly Writing Assignments, 10%

Each week, students will have different reading and writing-based assignments focused on different technical communication concepts and approaches. These will often require students to find, read, and respond to scientific and technical documents found through the library’s databases and online. These assignments help develop your reading and writing acumen.

Individual: Teamwork, Collaboration, and Communication, 10%

Throughout the semester, you will work with a team of classmates to provide peer-review feedback on your major individual projects and you will work together on the collaborative projects with each team responsible for team-based deliverables. There are two ways that you will demonstrate how well you work with others besides evidenced by the deliverables that you create. First, you will submit your peer-review feedback on each individual project as memos addressed to each of your teammates via email and comments made to appropriate posts on our OpenLab site. Second, for your contributions to your team’s collaborative project, each team member will write a 500-word memo describing their contributions and the contributions of their teammates, which will be emailed directly to Prof. Ellis after your team’s collaborative project is submitted.

Individual: 500-Word Summary, 5%

Individually, you will write a 500-word summary of a technical or scientific article that demonstrates: 1. ability to identify key processes and concepts in a professional science or technology article. 2. ability to describe complex processes and concepts clearly and concisely. 3. an awareness of audience. The summary should cite the article and any quotes following IEEE format.

Individual: 750-1000-Word Expanded Definition, 15%

Individually, you will write a 750-1000 word expanded definition of a technical or scientific term, with cover memo, which demonstrates: 1) correct memorandum format, 2) knowledge of the etymology and historical development of the term, 3) examples of the term’s use in various written contexts, 4) ability to compare and contrast various uses of the term, 5) use and citation of sources with proper attribution, and 6) awareness of audience. At least three library-sourced citations are required and should be cited following IEEE format.

Individual: 1500-2000-Word Instructional or Training Manual, 20%

Individually, you will write a 1500-2000-word instructional or training manual that demonstrates: 1) ability to explain a task/process in clear, concise language, 2) selection and definition of appropriate terminology and concepts, 3) awareness of the intended user/audience, and 4) knowledge of instructional manual format. All diagrams, illustrations, or photos must be created by the student and integrated into his or her manual. Any outside sources cited should be documented according to IEEE format.

Collaborative: 4000-6000-Word Analytical Research Report, 20%

Each team member contributes 1000-1500-word contribution to a 4000-6000-word analytical research report on a scientific or technological problem that demonstrates: 1) knowledge of the history and context of the problem, 2) knowledge of the causes and nature of the problem, 3) ideas for solving the problem, 4) the ability to explain the problem and offer possible solutions to a general audience, 5) the ability to integrate written work with the written work of a partner or partners in a coherent report, and 6) knowledge of proper research report format. At least six library-sourced citations must be included (non-library-sourced citations are encouraged, but they do not count toward the six library-sourced sources). Any outside sources cited should be documented according to IEEE format.

Collaborative: Seven-to-Ten-Minute Oral Analytical Research Report on a Scientific or Technological Problem, 10%

The goal of this part of the project is to transform your written report into an spoken presentation anchored by a PowerPoint or other visual presentation supplement. As a team, adapt and present your analytical research report as an oral presentation that demonstrates: 1) knowledge of oral presentation techniques and conventions, 2) the ability to organize a presentation effectively, 3) the ability to incorporate various media into the presentation, including appropriate computer software, 4) awareness of audience, 5) the ability to communicate the value of the product or service in clear spoken English, 6) the ability to answer audience questions, 7) the ability to collaborate productively with a partner or partners, and 8) the ability to explain the problem and offer possible solutions to a general audience.

Collaborative: Website Advertising a Product or Service Responding to the Analytical Research Report and Oral Presentation, 10%

The goal of this part of the collaborative project is to imagine a service or product that your team can offer that is related to your research report and oral presentation, both of which will be featured on the website in some way. The website should demonstrate: 1) knowledge of the product or service offered, of pertinent market forces, and of the potential customer base, 2) basic knowledge of web page design and composition, including appropriate software. The website will be based on your presentation and it is encouraged to be integrated into your presentation (perhaps to demonstrate how your team is promoting your product or service). All graphics, logos, design, and text must be created by your team.

Policy for Late Work

Due dates for weekly assignments and major projects are provided on the schedule below. Assignments submitted late will incur point reductions. However, students should always follow my advice to submit something rather than nothing. The last day that any assignment may be submitted is the last day of class as indicated on the schedule below. If a student knows that work cannot be completed on time, he or she should contact me or visit my office hours to discuss options for getting caught up and completing the class successfully.

Attendance Policy

In general, the expectation for successful and respectful college students is to arrive on time and attend all classes. Following City Tech’s policy, attendance is recorded and reported. Since this is an online, asynchronous class, attendance is recorded based on weekly participation by completing the weekly writing assignment discussed in lecture and posted to our OpenLab site. Attendance and class participation are essential and excessive absences may affect the final grade. Students who simply stop attending will receive a grade of “WU” (unofficial withdrawal – attended at least once).

Required Format for Papers

All formal writing and citations should follow IEEE guidelines. See the Purdue OWL IEEE section for more information: Remember in your research paper that quoting is far more persuasive than paraphrasing, and in either case, your use of others ideas or writing must be properly cited to give credit where credit is due and to maintain your own academic integrity.

Accessibility Statement

City Tech is committed to supporting the educational goals of enrolled students with disabilities in the areas of enrollment, academic advisement, tutoring, assistive technologies and testing accommodations. If you have or think you may have a disability, you may be eligible for reasonable accommodations or academic adjustments as provided under applicable federal, state and city laws. You may also request services for temporary conditions or medical issues under certain circumstances. If you have questions about your eligibility or would like to seek
accommodation services or academic adjustments, you can leave a voicemail at 718 260 5143, send an email to or visit the Center’s website at for more information.

College Policy on Academic Integrity

Students who work with information, ideas, and texts owe their audience and sources accuracy and honesty in using, crediting, and citing sources. As a community of intellectual and professional workers, the College recognizes its responsibility for providing instruction in information literacy and academic integrity, offering models of good practice, and responding vigilantly and appropriately to infractions of academic integrity. Accordingly, academic dishonesty is prohibited in CUNY and at New York City College of Technology, and is punishable by penalties, including failing grades, suspension, and expulsion. The complete text of the College policy on Academic Integrity may be found in the Academic Catalog here.

Diversity and Inclusive Education Statement

This course welcomes students from all backgrounds, experiences and perspectives. In accordance with the City Tech and CUNY missions, this course intends to provide an atmosphere of inclusion, respect, and the mutual appreciation of differences so that together we can create an environment in which all students can flourish. It is the instructor’s goal to provide materials and activities that are welcoming and accommodating of diversity in all of its forms, including race, gender identity and presentation, ethnicity, national origin, religion, cultural identity, socioeconomic background, sexuality and sexual orientation, ability, neurodivergence, age, and etc. Your instructor is committed to equity and actively seeks ways to challenge institutional racism, sexism, ableism and other forms of prejudice. Your input is encouraged and appreciated. If a dynamic that you observe or experience in the course concerns you, you may respectfully inform your instructor without fear of how your concerns will affect your grade.  Let your instructor know how to improve the effectiveness of the course for you personally, or for other students or student groups. We acknowledge that NYCCT is located on the traditional homelands of the Canarsie and Lenape peoples.

Tentative Schedule

Because the class meets asynchronously, we will not have a set meeting time for class. Instead, the class lectures and assignments are set according to a weekly schedule on Wednesdays. Below, each class describes what will be covered in the video lecture posted to our OpenLab site on that day, what reading or viewing should be done by the next week (Wednesday), and what assignments are due by the next week (Wednesday). It’s important for each student to look at the schedule carefully and plan ahead to stay on track with readings and assignments.

Week 1, Wednesday, Aug. 25

Lecture this week: Introduce Technical Writing and discuss successful asynchronous class study habits.

Read by next week: “What is Technical Communication?”,, Laura Portwood-Stacer, “How to Email Your Professor (Without Being Annoying AF),”, and “How to Summarize a Research Article,”

Due by next week: Send an introductory email to Prof. Ellis ( that follows the advice from Laura Portwood-Stacer (linked above) includes your major, your career goals, and the days and times that you are available to work with others on projects in the class.

Week 2, Wednesday, Sept. 1

Lecture this week: Introduce 500-Word Summary.

Read by Sept 22: “The Basics of Working on Teams,”, and Steven D. Krause’s “How to Collaborate and Write with Others,”

Due by Sept. 22: Weekly Writing Assignment posted to OpenLab and draft of your 500-Word Summary.

No classes are scheduled Sept. 3-Sept. 8 and Sept. 15-Sept. 16 (see Fall 2021 Academic Calendar). Use this time to establish connections with your team members, find an appropriate article via the Library’s online databases, read the article, and draft a 500-word summary of your selected article. Also, during this time, I will reach out to the class via email with team assignments leading up to next week’s meeting when I will discuss Peer Review of your 500-Word Summary projects, so watch for those emails and follow the directions contained in them to meet your teammates.

Week 3, Wednesday, Sept. 22

Lecture this week: Continue 500-Word Summary and introduce 750-Word Expanded Definition.

Read by next week: “Definition,”

Due by next week: Weekly Writing Assignment posted to OpenLab and Peer Review feedback on your team’s 500-Word Summary drafts.

Week 4, Wednesday, Sept. 29

Lecture this week: Conclude 500-Word Summary and continue 750-Word Expanded Definition.

Due by next week: Weekly Writing Assignment posted to OpenLab, post final draft of 500-Word Summary to OpenLab, and begin writing a draft of your Expanded Definition.

Week 5, Wednesday, Oct. 6

Lecture this week: Continue 750-Word Expanded Definition.

Read by next week: “Instructions” and “Standard operational policies and procedures” linked from David McMurrey’s Online Technical Writing:

Due by next week: Weekly Writing Assignment posted to OpenLab, and complete draft of your Expanded Definition.

Week 6, Wednesday, Oct. 13

Lecture this week: Introduce 1500-2000-Word Instructional Manual.

Due by next week: Weekly Writing Assignment posted to OpenLab, conduct Peer Review your Expanded Definition draft with team, and begin drafting Instruction Manual.

Week 7, Wednesday, Oct. 20

Lecture this week: Continue 1500-2000-Word Instructional Manual.

Due by next week: Weekly Writing Assignment posted to OpenLab, post Expanded Definition to OpenLab, and continue drafting Instruction Manual.

Week 8, Wednesday, Oct. 27

Lecture this week: Continue 1500-2000-Word Instructional Manual.

Due by next week: Weekly Writing Assignment posted to OpenLab, and continue drafting Instruction Manual.

Week 9, Wednesday, Nov. 3

Lecture this week: Continue 1500-2000-Word Instructional Manual and Introduce Collaboration Projects (Research Report, Website, and Oral Presentations).

Due by next week: Weekly Writing Assignment posted to OpenLab, and circulate Instruction Manual draft for peer review.

Week 10, Wednesday, Nov. 10

Lecture this week: Continue Collaboration Project.

Due by next week: Weekly Writing Assignment posted to OpenLab, email Collaborative Project prospectus to Prof. Ellis, and post Instruction Manual to OpenLab.

Week 11, Wednesday, Nov. 17

Lecture this week: Continue Collaboration Project.

Due by next week: Weekly Writing Assignment posted to OpenLab.

Week 12, Wednesday, Nov. 24

Lecture this week: Continue Collaboration Project.

Due by next week: Weekly Writing Assignment posted to OpenLab.

Week 13, Wednesday, Dec. 1

Lecture this week: Continue Collaboration Project.

Due by next week: Weekly Writing Assignment posted to OpenLab.

Week 14, Wednesday, Dec. 8

Lecture this week: Continue Collaboration Projects.

Due by next week: Weekly Writing Assignment posted to OpenLab (individually), Report on Collaboration emailed to Prof. Ellis (individually), and Collaborative Project Post on OpenLab with link to your team’s website (one post per team).

Week 15, Wednesday, Dec. 15

Lecture this week: Wrapping Up and Looking Ahead.

Due by today: Weekly Writing Assignment posted to OpenLab (individually), Report on Collaboration emailed to Prof. Ellis (individually), and Collaborative Project Post on OpenLab with link to your team’s website (one post per team).

Last day to receive late work: Tuesday, Dec. 21

Email Prof. Ellis by Wednesday, Dec. 15 with details on what needs to be completed late and verifying the day and time your work will be submitted by. Then, after completing any late work, send Prof. Ellis another email confirming that late work is completed.

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