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					MSU, Mankato
English 4/577 Syllabus
Technical Documentation, Policies & Procedures
Instructor: Lee S. Tesdell, Ph.D.

Course Title: Technical Documentation, Policies & Procedures
Academic Term: Fall Semester 2006
Office: 229D Armstrong Hall
Telephone: 507 389-5219
E-mail: lee.tesdell(at)
Office hours: By appointment
Course website:
Meeting times and place: MW 2-3:45, WH 118

Instructor’s goal: As your technical communication instructor my goals are to help you
appreciate and understand technical communication and complete technical communication

Course Description

Instructional Objectives
This course serves as an introduction to writing policies, procedures, and documentation. We will
work on these projects:
    • print documentation
    • online documentation
    • policies and procedures
    • usability testing of policies, procedures, and documentation

Every attempt will be made to accommodate qualified students with disabilities. If you are a
student with a documented disability, please see me as early in the semester as possible to
discuss the necessary accommodations, and/or contact the Disability Services Office at (507)
389-2825 (V) or (800) 627-3529 (MRS/TTY).

Content Outline
The writing assignments will include various kinds of technical documents. The readings for the
course will include the texts and electronic sources. In class we will analyze professional
documents and written work of other students, published electronic documents, and your own

Instructional Procedures
In my courses I promote the discovery method of learning. That is, I expect you to be
adventurous and ask a lot of questions. On the other hand, I may not offer as much written
guidance for assignments as you are used to. Here’s what to do if you have questions about an
assignment. Try to figure it out on your own first. If my instructions are confusing or are
incomplete in your opinion, then ask me for more information.

At the end of the semester it is your responsibility to give me the location of all the graded
assignments for the course. Please put that list in your e-folio.

This course will make use of class discussion of reading assignments, in-class writing, and
student-teacher discussion. The textbooks will be used extensively for assignments. You are
expected to learn to write on the computers in the classroom. In general we will use the workshop
approach to learning technical communication. For that reason regular attendance is highly

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Instructional resources

Barker, Writing Software Documentation, 2e, Allyn & Bacon, 2003
Campbell, Writing Effective Policies and Procedures: A Step-by-Step Resource for Clear
    Communication, 1998
For 577: Johnson-Eilola and Selber, Central Works in Technical Communication, 2004

Attendance policy
If you miss classes or you are late your grade may suffer as a result. Attendance is important to
your success and the success of the course.

Exams and quizzes
There will be a final exam that covers the textbooks and work we do during the semester. You will
also take reading quizzes during the semester.

By registering for my course you are accepting my request to do your own work. This means that
you will not collaborate on quizzes or exams. This means that you will work together with other
students only on collaborative assignments. This means that you will cite the work of experts in
the field when you paraphrase or quote their writing. Thank you for being honest.

Assignment evaluation scale
Unsatisfactory (0-69)              Basic (70-79)                          Proficient to Excellent (80-100)
Clearly deficient in               Demonstrates general                   Demonstrates excellent
understanding concepts and         understanding of concepts and          understanding of concepts and
principles of the assignment.      principles. Accuracy and               principles. Accurate and complete.
Lacking in accuracy and            completeness may be questionable.      Appropriate use of style. Excellent
completeness. Work is not          Grammar and correctness are            grammar, correctness, and
grammatical or well organized.     adequate. Assignment is on time. In    organization. Assignment offers a
In the case of a teamwork          the case of a teamwork assignment      creative solution. In the case of a
assignment you did not do your     you did an adequate amount of          teamwork assignment you did your
fair share of the work.            work.                                  fair share of the work.

Grading scale
90-100 A
80-89 B
70-79 C
60-69 D
0-59   F

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Assignment Points

One: Introduction                                                                      00

Two: E-folio in MavDisk

                                                   In-class assignments: These         25
                                                   assignments include all the un-
                                                   graded work that we do during
                                                   class time.

                                                   Printable resume in PDF             20

                                                   Paper documentation in PDF          25

                                                   Online documentation using          50

                                                   Usability project                   50

Three: Writing an article for online publication   Techniques online                   25

Four: Blogging our textbooks (477 only)            20-blog entry                       55

You are responsible for one blog entry of 100      5 x 7 students = 35 pts. for blog
words and for a response to every other            response
student blog entry. That response should be 50

Five: Graduate student publication                                                     50
management project (Proposal, Draft, Final
version, Reflection document)

Six: Graduate student blog of Central Works        20-blog entry                       40     5 x 4 students = 20 pts for blog

Seven: Graduate student GPACW conference
paper proposal

Eight: Final exam                                  Final exam week: December 11        30

Total                                                                                  280 (477)

                                                                                       315 (577)

Assignment descriptions

One: Introduction
Write a one-page introduction covering the following: name, major, technical communication
experience, languages studied, international experience, familiarity with working in teams,
computer skills, HTML authoring experience, and career plans. Include an email link and your
website URL if you have one. Please post this to D2L.

Two: E-folio in MavDISK
For this assignment you will make your own electronic portfolio. We’ll be using MS FrontPage to

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create the HTML files. You will need to create a CSS to set the style for your web pages.

If you don’t already have an MSU website, first go here to register for a personal web site at
Minnesota State University-Mankato.

           • Remember to create the pages in MS FrontPage or a text editor, rather than MS
               Word, e.g. Do not copy and paste from MS Word.
           • Remember the issue of privacy as you decide what to put in your web page. Do
               you want anyone in the world to find your photograph, home telephone number,
               and address on the World Wide Web? Think carefully about your audience. As a
               job seeker, what do you want your potential employer to find out about you on
               your web page? How about links to former employers' web pages? Consider all
               of these questions as you create your web site and its content. I would suggest
               the following:
               Old way:
               New way: abc(at)

The following documents should be published on your e-folio: paper documentation, online
documentation, service learning project, and the usability project. The first two documents are
due at midterm. The completed e-folio is due at the end of the semester.
      Printable resume
      Publish your printable resume on your e-folio. Please make sure that your information is
      current as you may want to use this version of your resume for a job search in the near
      future. The resume should be a PDF file.

      Paper Documentation
      You will learn to write instructions for paper delivery. We will complete a number of
      documentation exercises and examine existing print documentation. The project you do for
      the paper documentation is also the content for the online documentation project. For this
      semester’s project I would like to you to choose from one of these two project ideas: (1)
      Creating an electronic portfolio in HTML and uploading the files to your MavWeb account
      or (2) Pick a procedure that you are familiar with and write your paper documentation on
      that procedure. This procedure should be more substantial than 4 or 5 steps. If you are not
      sure it your procedure is appropriate, ask the instructor.

      Online Documentation
      You will learn to write instructions for online delivery. We will use RoboHelp to create this
      help document. We will study existing online docs and write on-line documentation. The
      project you do for the paper documentation will become the content for the online
      documentation project.

      Usability project
      You will be expected to learn the principles of usability testing. We will test the usability of
      various kinds of technical documents. You will test the usability of an instruction set
      following accepted usability testing as outlined in the Barker text (see Chapter 8). You
      might work with a local non-profit agency to create and test a technical document that will
      benefit the community.

Three: Writing an article for online publication
We will collaborate online to produce and publish articles online. Our publication is called
Techniques, our student STC publication. We will publish an online version only. Everyone in the
class submits an article for publication. The graduate students in the class edit and publish the

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articles in addition to writing an article.
          Step One: Rough drafts due to editorial committee
          Step Two: Editorial committee returns rough drafts
          Step Three: 2nd drafts due to editorial committee
          Step Four: Second viewing; editorial committee returns 2nd drafts
          Step Five: Final drafts due to editorial committee
          Step Six: Articles inserted into newsletter design by production team; class feedback
          Step Seven: Project completed and published on the Web by production team.

Four: Blogging our textbooks
We will be blogging our textbooks. You are responsible for one entry and comments on all the
other entries during the semester.

Five: Reading quizzes
You will be expected to know the textbook readings for the reading quizzes. The quizzes will be
made up of short-answer questions from both the Barker and Campbell texts.

Six: Graduate student project
The graduate student project consists of four parts: proposal, draft, final version, and a reflection
document. The project should be directly related to the course content.

For Fall 2006, this project will consist of managing, editing, and producing a new issue of online
Techniques. Specifically, the proposal is the decision on article topics and themes, the draft and
final versions are the articles and the editing process that goes with it, and the reflection
document should include the following: who did which tasks with explanation, project timeline,
reflection on the decision-making process, and assessment of the final product.

Seven: Graduate student readings and discussion
Read the assigned readings and take part in the discussion of those readings. These will be
based on Johnson-Eilola and Selber.

Eight: Final exam
For the final exam, you will be expected to know the readings and other material we covered
during the semester. The exam questions may also include the content that is covered by the
reading quiz.


                                  Tesdell English 4/577 F2005                                           5

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