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Course Syllabus - Fall 2012

Course Description

ENGL444 Writing for the World Wide Web (3 credits)
An advanced writing course focused on composing documents for publication on the World Wide Web and other electronic spaces, such as interactive CD-ROMs.

Course Overview

At its simplest, ENGL444 is a course that provides a guided experience in writing for the world wide web. The web has been around for several decades, dating back to Arpanet, which launched in 1969. But its more contemporary forms, as you are perhaps aware, has spawned new communication practices and technologies more rapidly and radically than anything before it. Mindful of Karl Stolley's acknowledgement (left) that the web is language-based all the way down, this course will guide you through some of the potential—particularly for professional and technical writers—not only in grasping but also in creating and revising the language that constitutes the web. With focuses on early hypertext, beginning XHTML and CSS, and content strategy, you will gain first-hand experience with the development of web pages. This course will not only make the web a more familiar and genial domain, it will also introduce vocabulary and concepts essential to working collaboratively with web developers and planning more complex projects.

Course Goals for ENGL444

Course goals for ENGL444 include but are not limited to the following:

  1. Gain experience planning and creating standards compliant XHTML and CSS.
  2. Compose a series of web-based texts as a distributed, recursive process that adapts to rhetorical contingencies, that responds to distinct audiences and genres, and that requires thinking and rethinking ideas.
  3. Gain fluency with conceptual dimensions of site development, content strategy, and information architecture, with an emphasis on written communication.
  4. Practice critical reading, annotation, analysis, and delivery consistent with advanced study in written communication.

Course Texts and Materials

How to Design and Write Web Pages Today

Stolley, Karl. How to Design and Write Web Pages Today. Writing Today Ser. Denver: Greenwood, 2011. ISBN 978-0-313-38038-9. (required) Amazon.com | Half.com

This text is available at the EMU Bookstore in the Student Center.

Further readings will be available to you as PDFs in EMU Online (see Doc Sharing). You should download PDFs for reading on the screen or, if you prefer, for printing and reading. Plan to spend as much as 20 USD on printing and photocopying over the course of the semester.


The work of the course is divided as follows

P1.Small Pieces Hypertext 20
P2.Contrastive CSS 20
P3.EM-Ad Project 20
Codecademy Web Fundamentals Series and Reflections 20
Portfolio 20

I will provide detailed comments in response to your work following deadlines and at any other time you request input from me. Comments may or may not include grade estimates, but they will provide you with guidance for development and revision. Each of the projects will be described fully in separate prompts that I will circulate at an appropriate time in the semester. When necessary or otherwise useful, grade estimates will be posted in the EMU Online (eCompanion) gradebook associated with this course. You must complete all major projects (i.e., P1, P2, P3, Codeacademy Web Fundamentals 1-3, and Portfolio) to be eligible for a passing grade in ENGL444.

Turning in Work

Dropbox in EMUOnline
Unless otherwise specified, your written work in ENGL444 will be turned in to the dropbox in EMU Online. In most cases, you will be asked to submit a hyperlink to the location where your project exists on the web. When work is submitted to the Dropbox, it will be returned at the same location.

File Naming
When you prepare to turn in electronic files, please adhere to the following conventions. Save document files as .htm, .css, .doc or .rtf (rich text format). Use the "Save as" option to avoid submitting work as .docx. Use the following naming formula: 444-Lastname-Assn.doc. That is, your filenames should always include the course number, your last name, and the abbreviated name of the assignment. For example, my own copy of Project One would be named 444-Mueller-P1.doc.

Late Work
All work must be submitted before the start of class on the due date to be considered on time and therefore eligible for full credit.

Course Policies

Attendance and Participation

ENGL444 is a both an advanced undergraduate and graduate-level studio focused on writing for the web. Participation, involvement, and engagement with the activities of the class will be factored into your overall grade underm each of the areas listed above. Absences and lack of preparation for class will affect your colleagues' work as well as your own. The work you do in and in preparation for each class is as important as the polished assignment you turn in for a project. In addition, our syllabus and schedule are only a projection and may be subject to occasional changes and revisions as it seems appropriate, necessary, or just interesting. That is another reason why your attendance is vital.

If you must miss a class, you are still responsible for all work assigned, including turning work in by stated deadlines. Class time cannot be reconstructed or made up, and your performance, your work, and your course grade will be impacted by absences. Consistent with English Language & Literature Department policies, if you miss more than four classes, you will not be able to pass the course.

We will meet this semester in Pray Harrold 314, which means we will be surrounded by technology. You will at times be tempted to use the computers for checking email or browsing the web. As a rule of thumb, I ask that your in-class uses of mobile devices (e.g., cell phones) and desktop computers be focused on class-related activities. Obviously, you should silence your phones before coming to class. As long as everyone is respectfully attentive when someone is speaking, in-class technology use will not be a problem. In-class attentiveness, engagement, and preparedness (i.e., having read and prepared for each class) are what I mean by "presence."

Computer and Internet Usage

We will be interacting with a variety of sites on the internet during the course. Please let me know if you have not had any experience using a browser such as Firefox, Chrome, or Safari. When using a computer, save your work frequently, always make backup copies, and plan your projects with extra time allowed for unexpected challenges.

You will receive comprehensive instructions for turning in each project. Nevertheless, I strongly urge you to plan ahead, to familiarize yourself with file formats and with the submission process, and to approach me with questions about submissions well in advance of the due dates. Some of the work you do for this class will be composed using a word processing application, such as MS Word, Open Office, or Google Docs. When turning in documents like this, please use an easily readable typeface, such as Times New Roman 12. Assign one inch margins and adhere to MLA page layout and documentation conventions. Because of the emphasis on web development in ENGL444, you will also asked to turn in work in other formats (XHTML, CSS, PDFs, images, blog or wiki entries, etc.).

Communication with Peers; Communication with the Instructor

While you can expect a considerable amount of leadership and direction to come from me, you should also make arrangements early in the semester to communicate with your colleagues. In other words, you are strongly encouraged to identify one or two (perhaps more) peers in the class with whom you can discuss readings and assignments, work through questions brought up in the class, and approach when you find something unclear. In short, my hope is that we all will prefer climate in which dialogue and interaction runs between the instructor and students and also between and among students when questions come up. Finally, you should always be proactive about asking questions when you have them, either by raising questions during class or contacting me or one of your peers privately.


To communicate by email we will use our emich.edu accounts, accessible via mail.emich.edu. You can send email to me or to classmates via the EMU Online (eCompanion) site associated with this course. You may call and leave a phone message, but you will at times find it more effective to use email to contact me about your work in the course. You can also set up an appointment to meet with me on campus, or to ask a question. With rare exceptions, I will respond to email inquiries within 48 hours.

Academic Integrity

Plagiarism occurs when a writer passes off another's words or ideas without acknowledging their source, whether intentionally or not. For example, turning another's work as your own is plagiarism. If you plagiarize in this class, you will likely fail the assignment on which you are working and your case may be passed to the university for additional disciplinary action. Because of the design and nature of this course, it will take as much (or more) work for you to plagiarize in it than it will to actually complete the work of the class. For a more detailed explanation of Eastern Michigan University's stance on academic integrity, refer to Section V.A. of the Student Conduct Code.

Disability Resource Center (DRC)

If you have a documented disability that affects your work in this (or any other) class, the Disability Resource Center can provide support for you. It is my goal that this class be an accessible and welcoming experience for all students, including those with disabilities that may impact their learning in this class. If anyone believes they may have trouble participating or effectively demonstrating learning in this course, please meet with me (with or without a Disability Resource Center (DRC) accommodation letter) to discuss reasonable options or adjustments. During our conversation, I may suggest the possibility/necessity of your contacting the DRC (240 Student Center; 734-487-2470; swd_office@emich.edu) to talk about academic accommodations. You are welcome to talk to me at any point in the semester about such issues, but it is always best if we can talk at least one week prior to the need for any modifications.

Academic Projects Center

The Academic Projects Center is located in 116 Halle Library (487-0020, extension 2154). The Center is open M-Th from 11-5 and is staffed by University Writing Center consultants, Halle Librarians, and Information and Communications Technology staff who can help with writing, research, or technology needs. No appointment is necessary. When you visit the Academic Projects Center, be sure to bring a draft of what you're working on and your assignment sheet with you.

University Writing Center

The University Writing Center (115 Halle Library) offers one-to-one consulting for both undergraduate and graduate students. Students can make appointments or drop in between the hours of 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays and from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Fridays. Students should bring a draft of what they’re working on and their assignment. The UWC opens for Fall 2012 on Monday, September 10, and will close on Wednesday, December 12.

The UWC also offers small group workshops on various topics related to writing (e.g., Strategies for Successful College Reading; Peer Review; Revising and Editing Your Writing). Descriptions of all UWC workshops are posted at www.emich.edu/english/writing-center. Workshops are offered at various times Monday through Friday in the UWC. To register for a workshop, click the "Register" link from the UWC page.

Contact Information

Derek N. Mueller, PhD
Associate Professor of Rhetoric and Writing
Director of Composition
Department of English
Virginia Tech
Office: 315 Shanks Hall
Spring 2019 Office Hours: T, 12-3
Phone: +1-734-985-0485

"The Web is unique among all forms of digital communication, in that top to bottom, the Web is language" (xi). Karl Stolley, "Preface," How to Design and Write Web Pages Today

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