Technical Communication Syllabus
When new college graduates begin their technical and scientific careers, they are often surprised by the amount of writing and speaking required in their new jobs. They know technical communication would be important, but they never realized it would be so crucial to their success.
People who can write and speak effectively using a variety of media tend to be successful. Meanwhile, people with weak communication skills are often passed over for jobs, challenging projects to work on, and promotions. Technical communication will be essential for your career, whether you are an engineer, web developer, programmer, or any other professional in a technical field.
This course is designed to help you hone your communication skills so you will be prepared to enter the technical workforce when you complete your degree.
We will study the rhetorical principles and writing and speaking practices necessary for producing effective workplace correspondence, job search documents and interviews, documentation, proposals, reports, presentations, and collaborative projects in professional and technical contexts. The curriculum is informed by current research in rhetoric and technical writing and is guided by the needs and practices of business, industry, and society at large.
Our principal emphases will be audience analysis—what can you know about your audience’s needs and wants and how can you use that knowledge to communicate more effectively—and on the corporate culture, both formal and informal, in which you communicate on the job. We will also emphasize using Plain English, creating a positive tone, developing a service attitude, projecting a positive impression, and working effectively, ethically, and professionally in collaborative settings.
- Plan and manage a collaborative technical communication project
- Analyze rhetorical communication situations common to the computer software and hardware disciplines and produce technical documents and presentations based on the analysis results
- Identify objectives for technical documents and presentation projects and evaluate their effectiveness once completed
- Compose, review, and edit technical documents and presentations for clarity, concision, accuracy, accessibility, and audience appropriateness
- Design graphics and visual information for technical documents and presentations using standard design principles
- Demonstrate proficiency in research and content development for technical documents and presentations
- Explain standard guidelines and techniques for organizing and drafting technical documents
Object-oriented Software Development (CS 165) OR Web Page Development (CIT 336)
- No textbook is required; all materials are provided in the course.
- A video or web camera and microphone will be needed to record presentations.
- Microsoft Word software
If you do not already have access to this software, a free download for PC or Mac is available through the University Store.
Registration for Online Tools
NoRedInk is a free web-based learning platform that can help improve your grammar skills and writing mechanics. In most weeks of the course, you will be assigned NoRedInk lessons to complete. You are required to create a free account with NoRedInk. Instructions for creating your account and using NoRedInk are provided in Week 02 of the course.
You will be required to create several recordings in the course. You may use Zoom (a web conferencing and recording tool) or another video recording tool (like Google Hangouts) to create your recordings as long as you can post a link that will allow others to stream the video online (without downloading it).
This course will provide valuable experiences for you, if you are willing to put forth the effort to fully engage in the designed activities. As with most things in life, what you get out of this course will depend upon what you put into it. The following are recommendations for success in this class:
- Because this course is for three-credits, plan to spend nine hours per week on this course. You may need to spend more, depending on your own learning style and skill set.
- Your primary means of course navigation should be through the Modules view. This view will allow you to experience the intended course flow created by the designers. The I-Learn calendar should be used to help remind you of the course schedule, but it should never be used as the means of course navigation. Navigating from the calendar is a problem because it will cause you to miss important information and experience confusion regarding activity instructions.
- As you navigate the course, read all material and instructions in every course page, including the weekly Introduction pages.
- Always read the Announcements. They contain important information provided by your instructor. The announcements are displayed when you initially navigate to the course.
- Plan your time so that you work consistently throughout each week. You will have a quality learning experience with less stress if you spread the work out through the week.
- Scan through the materials and assignments at the beginning of each week and gauge the amount of time you will need to spend on the activities. Plan your week accordingly. This planning is very important since some assignments take several days and may involve coordinating with classmates.
Learning Model Architecture
It is important you understand the approach to online learning used at BYUIdaho. Familiarize yourself with this by viewing the Orientation to Online Learning at BYU-Idaho video found in the first week.
Many learning models are available in the world of instruction. Most of them have the same essential elements as the BYU-Idaho Learning Model. The true power of the BYU-Idaho Learning model is found in the principles behind it. Often we focus on the Learning Model process steps of Prepare, Teach One Another, and Ponder/Prove, but we forget the Learning Model principles. Please take time now to review the BYU-Idaho Learning Model Principles and consider ways you can implement them in your study habits this semester. Your personal prayers and scripture study are essential to learning by faith and will strengthen your ability to follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit. You should be prepared to use both intellectual and spiritual tools of learning in this course.
Each week, you will use the Learning Model process steps as described below.
- You will prepare by reading course materials.
- You will Teach one another by providing meaningful feedback in peer review activities, discussing course content in discussions, and working collaboratively with classmates on assignments.
- You will ponder and prove by completing writing assignments, practicing grammar skills, creating a presentation and completing other assignments that develop technical communication skills.
The course is divided into 14 modules that are organized by week.
In line with the BYU-Idaho Learning Model, this course is not an independent study. This fact means that you may not work at your own pace; You will need to follow the established schedule. You will need to follow this schedule because you will work collaboratively with your classmates each week as you progress through the course.
This course does not have a repeated weekly rhythm. Each week has a unique structure. However, one consistent feature is that assignment due dates follow a regular schedule (see the Calendar for this course). Sub-modules in each weekly module reflect these due dates and are titled Beginning of Week, Mid-Week, and End of Week. These titles are used because the actual day of the week will vary according to your time zone. Another consistent feature of the course is that the final activity in most weeks is a grammar practice assignment in NoRedInk.
Table 1. Course Structure and Assignments. Assignments for the course are designed around general technical communication topics. Please refer to the Course Summary below and the Calendar .
The standard BYU-Idaho grading scale applies to this class and is as follows:
Due dates for this course are on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. See specific information about due dates in the Calendar module.
Late Work Policy
In the workplace, some due dates can be extended to accommodate extenuating circumstances, but in all cases, your reputation suffers. For this course, you should complete your work on time, and generally, late work will not be accepted. However, your instructor has discretion to accept late work or extend due dates in case of extenuating circumstances. Plan for catastrophes; back up your work multiple times; and resist the urge to procrastinate.
Tutoring options for online students are available through the Academic Support Centers. Check the details in the link provided. You are particularly encouraged to use the services of the BYU-Idaho Writing Center.
Online Support Center
The Online Support Center (OSC) is available to help you with problems in online courses. If you have questions about this course, the instructor, technical difficulties, or your online learning learning experience, please contact the OSC:
Phone: (208) 496-1411
Live Chat: To access the chat feature, please visit the website
Website: Online Support Center
You have the responsibility to carefully read assigned materials and instructions. Questions should be noted and directed to your instructor. You also have the responsibility to contribute to others’ learning through your participation in discussions.
This syllabus and the course schedule may be changed at any time prior to or during the semester as the need arises. You will be notified by your instructor of any changes and may view them in the course documents.
Read the University Policies found in the Student Resources. See information there about student honor, students with disabilities, sexual harassment, complaints and grievances, and copyright policies.
As followers of Christ, all BYU-Idaho students, staff, and faculty are expected to be honest in all their dealings. This honesty also applies and extends to behavior and actions related to academic work. It is critical for you to understand the seriousness of academic dishonesty and misconduct and strive to produce and submit only the results of your own effort and original work. While you are encouraged to work with one another and share ideas, the sharing of text, code, or anything like it for individual assignments is inappropriate. There is never an acceptable excuse for plagiarism or cheating. Academic dishonesty will not tolerated by the University.
Your instructor will be responsible for creating and applying policies and penalties for academic dishonesty, which may include point deductions, a score of zero on an entire assignment, and referral to the Student Honor Office. Cases will be analyzed on an individual basis and penalties applied according to the severity of the misconduct.