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					Syllabus for Technical Communication (TC) 424:
The Computer in Technical Communication
       Course Details:        Loew Hall, Room 19 (TC Computer Lab)
                              Thursdays, 6 PM – 9:30 PM

       Instructors:           Alex Thayer (
                              Jim Kramer (
                              Office hours by appointment

       Course Web site:

                      Course Purpose and Objectives
This class is 4 credits and is offered as credit/no credit; we will grant credit based on
attendance and in-class participation. Work outside class is optional but recommended,
and will be announced at the end of each class. Our goals in teaching this class are to:

      Familiarize you with basic concepts of document design, formatting, and storage
      Introduce you to a suite of software applications that are frequently used in
       professional writing settings
      Show you how to take raw, unformatted content and transform it into a
       professional-looking online Help system worthy of a career portfolio

The objective of this course is to introduce you to some of the software tools used in the
field of technical communication. While mastery at any one tool typically takes a longer
amount of time than we will have this quarter, the hope is that exposure to these
applications will help prepare you for your technical communication career.

This course will introduce you to some of the most popular tools used by TC
professionals: Adobe FrameMaker, Adobe InDesign, RoboHelp and MadCap Flare,
Adobe Acrobat, and Microsoft Office. We will look at the functionality of these tools,
the types of design activities that these tools support, and techniques for designing
effective solutions with these tools. Knowledge of these tools makes you more
competitive in the job market.

                             Course Assignments
This course has one assignment, an ongoing project that will teach you how to take
unformatted content and transform it, using a variety of tools, into a polished set of
documents in multiple formats. The goal of this assignment is to teach you applications
and design theory while providing you with a portfolio piece that may help separate
you from other job candidates.

Throughout the quarter, we will assist you with your project, ensuring that you
understand what you are doing and why you need to take each step. Attendance is
critical as the in-class activities will shape your knowledge and skills with the
applications you’ll learn this quarter. We will also check in with you and your content
regularly to ensure you are making good progress.

The project content itself is unimportant in the context of this class: What matters is
whether you can get the content to function properly using the applications we will be
showing you. Each week, after you learn new topics and applications, you will be
encouraged to apply your new knowledge to your ongoing documentation assignment.
For example, one week you might import some new content and reformat it to make it
look like your existing content. The following week, you might be developing and
formatting new art for your project. As you apply your new knowledge between
classes, you will grow more familiar with each application taught during the quarter.

   Course Readings, Media Requirements, and Resources
This course has a few optional readings that we recommend for you as background
information. We strongly suggest you find time to read the suggested articles, and we
will make them available online through the course Web site. We have also posted an wish list of books that we think you’d enjoy perusing; check them out at
the library or spend the money if you like, it’s up to you!

You must bring your own media for storing class project files throughout the course.
Even though you will have server space for storing files, please remember to always
back up your work on a portable media device of some sort. We recommend a USB flash
drive (also called a jump drive); these drives are available at the UW bookstore or any
computer technology store. Another option is to bring blank CDs to burn your files onto,
although that process can take time.

The computers in the TC lab will provide you with access to the software tools for the
class. All of the software that you need for this class is available in the TC Computer
Lab (Loew 19), which is open whenever the building is open, expect when other classes
are scheduled in the lab. Some of the packages are available in other computer labs on
campus such as the Mary Gates computing center and the Odegaard Undergraduate
Library. Some packages can be downloaded for a free 30-day trial and installed on your
own computer.

                                                     Course Schedule at a Glance

Week   Date/Lecturer   Lecture Overview                                                      Lecture Topic/Software Application              Assignment Due
1      Jan 10          Introduction to TC 424 – The Basics of the Course                     Understanding the differences between desktop
       A. Thayer                                                                             publishing, word processing, etc.
                       Getting started with Adobe FrameMaker (“Frame”)
                                                                                             Adobe FrameMaker (first steps)
2      Jan 17          Focus on Frame – The Basics                                           Adobe FrameMaker                                Content you will use
       A. Thayer                                                                                                                             throughout the
3      Jan 24          Focus on Frame – Templates and Book Files                             Adobe FrameMaker
       A. Thayer
4      Jan 31          Focus on Frame – Creating Content                                     Adobe FrameMaker
       A. Thayer
5      Feb 7           Getting started with Adobe InDesign                                   Adobe InDesign                                  Draft of Adobe
       A. Thayer/                                                                                                                            FrameMaker project
       J. Kramer       Review of Frame and student work to date                                                                              files

6      Feb 14          Focus on Adobe InDesign – DTP PDQ                                     Adobe InDesign
       J. Kramer/
       A. Thayer
7      Feb 21          Focus on RoboHelp and MadCap Flare – Past, Present, and Future        RoboHelp/MadCap Flare                           Content to be
       B. Kauffman/    (for this lecture, bring a Word document with a minimum of three                                                      imported into
       A. Thayer/      heading levels and a FrameMaker book file with at least three                                                         RoboHelp and Flare
       J. Kramer       chapters, and then at least two heading levels within each chapter)
8      Feb 28          Focus on Adobe Acrobat – More than a Reader                           Adobe Acrobat                                   Draft of InDesign
       A. Thayer                                                                                                                             project files
9      Mar 6           Focus on Microsoft Word – Tips and Tricks to Tame the Paper Tiger     MS Office – Word                                PDF version of Adobe
       A. Thayer                                                                                                                             FrameMaker draft
                                                                                                                                             project files
10     Mar 13          Focus on Microsoft Office – What Else Is There Other Than Word?       MS Office – Word continued, Visio, PowerPoint   Final portfolio pieces:
       A. Thayer                                                                                                                             PDF, FrameMaker,
                       Alternatives to Microsoft Office – Can I Spend Less and Get More?     Inspiration 8 (visualization/outlining tool)    Word, and InDesign

                         Week 1 (January 10)
      Introducing Adobe FrameMaker and the Single-Source
                    Documentation Model
   Lecture topics:
    o Introduction to the class
        What’s the purpose?
        How will the class function?
        What’s in it for me?
    o What is ―single-sourcing?‖
    o Why is Adobe FrameMaker useful for single-sourcing?
    o What about Microsoft Word, Corel WordPerfect, Ventura Publisher, etc.?
   Lab topics:
    o Open Frame for the first time
    o Run through the menus and interface quickly (more detail next time)
   Readings for next week:
    o Rockley, A. The Impact of Single Sourcing and Technology
    o Walmer, D. One Company's Efforts to Improve Translation and Localization
       (skim; focus on the sections that describe FrameMaker experience, both good
       and bad)

                         Week 2 (January 17)
                      Learning the Basics of Frame
   Lecture topics:
    o Viewing the world through Adobe-colored glasses (learning the
       book/chapter paradigm)
    o Discussing the content you will be using this quarter for your project
   Lab topics:
    o Learning the interface
    o Creating a new document (chapter)
    o Creating a new book
    o Creating a TOC file and an Index file
    o Navigating the online Help
    o Reviewing and approving student content for term projects
   Readings for next week:
    o Emory, D. FrameMaker Template Design and Enforcement (sections 1, 2)

                         Week 3 (January 24)
     Using Templates and Automated Content Within Frame
   Lecture topics:
    o Understanding why we need templates
    o Following the proper workflow: Create your template first (if possible)!
    o Understanding master pages
    o Learning how to create and use book files, TOCs, and indices
   Lab topics (yes, it’s a long list this week):
    o Reviewing the Frame interface
    o Using an existing template
    o Saving a file as a template file
    o Creating a new template file
    o Modifying an existing template (something that a writer should not do;
       understanding global changes vs. local changes)
    o Reviewing content creation within Frame
    o Learning the book file in detail
        Setting the numbering within your chapters
    o Generating a TOC
    o Formatting your TOC and Index files using master pages
    o Modifying your TOC and Index entries
    o Updating your TOC and Index files

                         Week 4 (January 31)
       Creating Content and Avoiding Trouble with Frame
   Lecture topics:
    o Comparing text entry in Frame to text entry in Word
    o Learning the basics of formatting text in Frame (forget what you know)
    o Understanding your content from the writer’s point of view
    o Understanding your content from the production point of view
   Lab topics:
    o Reviewing templates
    o Setting your preferences (zoom, etc.)
    o Adding new content using a standard template
    o Importing existing content
    o Fixing common mistakes
    o Avoiding common problems
    o FrameMaker do’s and don’ts

                         Week 5 (February 7)
                Learning the Basics of Adobe InDesign
   Lecture topics:
    o Why InDesign? Discuss the differences that make both FrameMaker and
       InDesign valid content development solutions, and what considerations are
       made between the two (content-driven vs. presentation-driven)
    o Learning the InDesign method for formatting content
    o Overview of structuring XML content in InDesign
    o Reviewing student progress with Frame documents and projects
   Lab topics:
    o Looking at student work to date
    o Reviewing the basics of InDesign:
        Open InDesign for the first time
        Run through the menus and interface quickly (more detail next time)
        Creating a new document from scratch
        Working with existing documents and templates
        Adding new content and importing existing content
        Editing tools; editing the Story Editor vs. in Layout View
        Looking at some sample InDesign content
   Readings for next week (suggested):
    o Adobe Creative Team; Adobe InDesign CS3 Classroom in a Book
    o Gruman, G. Adobe CS3 InDesign Bible

                        Week 6 (February 14)
                   Continuing with Adobe InDesign
   Lecture topics:
    o Reviewing the InDesign method for formatting content
    o Learning how to format information like a visual designer
    o Learning how to format information for a global audience
   Lab topics:
    o Reviewing more basics of InDesign:
        Working with text variables, and generating a TOC
        Formatting text using paragraph styles, character styles, and nested styles
        Formatting objects using Object Styles
        Working with style-based hierarchies
        Working with color; spot vs. process vs. web-safe
        Developing and organizing master pages
        Preparing the file for a commercial printer
        Preparing the file for Dreamweaver; i.e., HTML conversion

                        Week 7 (February 21)
           Learning About RoboHelp and MadCap Flare
   Lecture topics:
    o Understanding different online help formats:
        What are the differences—tooltips, context-sensitive help, online help?
        What are the output format options for online help?
        Why should I use one output type or another?
    o Knowing the available tools for creating online help:
        A brief history of tools you might encounter in the workplace
        A comparison of the capabilities of the more common tools
    o Integrating online help with software applications
   Lab topics:
    o Creating HTML Help using RoboHelp:
        Starting a project
        Navigating the RoboHelp interface
        Creating new topics—importing Word documents
        Understanding and creating topics and books
        Creating a TOC
        Generating output
        A quick fly-by of other RoboHelp features (indexing, skins, and more)
    o Creating online help using Flare:
        Starting a project
        Navigating the Flare interface
        Creating new topics—importing FrameMaker documents
        Understanding and creating topics and books
        Creating a TOC
        Generating output
        A quick fly-by of other Flare features
    o Demonstration of WebWorks ePublisher Pro

                        Week 8 (February 28)
              Creating PDF Files Using Adobe Acrobat
   Lecture topics:
    o Learning the basics of Adobe Acrobat
        What is PDF, and why do I see it all over the place?
        What is PS, and why can’t I edit a PS file (Adobe Illustrator)?
        Are there PDF alternatives?
    o Reviewing student progress with InDesign documents and projects
   Lab topics:
    o Creating a PS file/understanding why to create a PS file
    o Creating a PDF file through Frame using the Print command
    o Fixing errors within PDF files

                           Week 9 (March 6)
Microsoft Word 2007: Tips and Tricks to Tame the Paper Tiger
   Lecture topics:
    o Getting to know Word 2007
    o Forgetting Word 2003 and everything that came before it
    o Getting from a pile of content to a Word document that resembles a
       well-formatted Frame book
    o Reviewing student progress and preparing for the final project deadline
   Lab topics:
    o Learning the best formatting and editing tips about Word 2007

                          Week 10 (March 13)
    Making the Most of Microsoft Office and Competing Tools
   Lecture topics:
    o Learning the basics of Microsoft Visio
    o Learning the basics of Microsoft PowerPoint
    o Learning about alternatives to Microsoft Office, such as Inspiration
    o Turning in the final project
    o Course wrap-up/feedback
   Lab topics:
    o Getting to know Visio
    o Learning to use PowerPoint for good, not evil