Fall 2016

ENGL 5410: Studies in Digital Media Production
Cross-Cultural Professional Communication

Dr. Rebecca Walton

This course will provide you with a solid foundation of knowledge about cross-cultural professional communication to enable you to thoughtfully and respectfully develop documents localized for particular user groups and to develop documents globalized for international audiences. You will learn cultural theories and frameworks, such as contrastive rhetoric and Thatcher's rhetorical-cultural model. You will also learn about critical perspectives that inform complex, ethical, and up-to-date understandings of cultural identity. You will also learn about working with clients, sketching, writing for localization, developing pictorial instructions, and conducting cross-cultural user research.

You will have multiple opportunities to apply your nascent skills within complex, real-world contexts by partnering with the Cache Refugee & Immigrant Connection (CRIC) and a cultural liaison throughout the semester. You will work in teams to produce documents to support members of local refugee and immigrant communities to meet their own goals, such as using email and passing the driver's license test.

Spring 2016

ENGL 5400: Specialized Documents
Social Media and Community Based Marketing

Dr. John McLaughlin

Social media isn't new. The only thing "new" about it is the technology. From Roman times until the modern era, social media has been a driving factor behind the dissemination of social, political, religious, and scientific information outside the normal, official routes of communication. From graffiti discovered on the walls of Pompeii ("I made a great soup today") to the Facebook posts and Twitter tweets that fueled the Arab Spring in the Middle East and Euromaidan in Ukraine ("Everyone get to Maidan now!"), social media has driven change. Social media also becomes a key factor in the formation of communities of interest such as that formed and maintained by the Grateful Dead for 50 years. The ways that social media and communities of interest interact with marketing were examined in this course.

Fall 2015

ENGL 5410: Studies in Digital Media Production
Writing for the Games Industry

Dr. Ryan Moeller

ENGL 5400: Specialized Documents
Crisis Communication

Dr. Keith Grant-Davie

When crises afflict organizations and individuals, they are usually unexpected and seldom occur at a convenient time. They disrupt normal operations and goals, and they may threaten health, prosperity, or reputation. Such are the costs of crises that a huge amount of technical communication is devoted to crisis avoidance and crisis response, yet the news shows us almost daily examples of crises being handled ineptly—usually due to confusion, inadequate preparation, and poor communication. Good crisis communication, on the other hand, can avert disaster and save millions of dollars.

Effective crisis communication can help before, during, and after a crisis. Internal crisis communication manages response crews and teams of employees as they try to repair the crisis. External crisis communication addresses the media and various publics—to ensure safety, to represent the situation accurately, and to preserve goodwill.

Scholars often point out that, like forest fires, crises can be not just threats to wellbeing but opportunities for positive change, renewal, and improvement. For individual technical communicators like you, crises can also be occasions when you can showcase your strengths to an employer. You may not yet be in a position to brief the media for an organization, but as a junior technical communicator you may find yourself working on a team that can influence an organization’s crisis communication. The knowledge you gain from this class could help you turn a crisis into an opportunity to advance your organization and yourself within it.

Spring 2015

ENGL 5490: Special Topics in Professional and Technical Writing
Ethics and Culture in Technical Communication

Dr. Jared Colton

As Michael Martin has astutely noted, a national survey conducted a couple years before the 2008 economic recession stated that, “only slightly more than a third [of businesses] use any type of formal ethics training." One way to counter this lack of oversight and accountability in the workplace is to create awareness of ethics in (future) technical communicators through discussion and instruction in the classroom.

In this course, students will be exposed to and discuss a number of theories, arguments, and case studies about and for ethics in technical communication, including deontology, virtue, consequentialism, as well as various postmodern and cultural studies perspectives. The perennial exigency for interrogating ethical paradigms remains in the following questions: what kinds of ethics should future technical communicators have, how do/should they come to construct and understand ethical values, and how do/should they practice these ethical values? The goal of this course is to continually interrogate these questions by understanding different situations through the various ethical frameworks we learn about and research. By the end of this course, students should be able to make a strong case for ethics in technical communication, have improved their ability to analyze the ethics of rhetorical situations, and understand how to better approach such situations in their current and future careers as technical communicators.

Fall 2014

ENGL 5410: Studies in Digital Media Production
Rhetorical Design and Accessibility

Dr. Jared Colton

At the beginning of his Institutio Oratoria, classical Roman rhetorician Quintilian asks, is the perfect orator a good person as well as a good orator? In other words, and for the purpose of this class, is good design also ethical design? This is a major question that will provide a larger framework for this class, in which students will engage theoretically, practically, and productively with multiple aspects of what "good" design is, particularly with regards to theories of accessibility and video presentation.

In this course, students will be exposed to and discuss a number of theories and arguments about and for persuasive and accessible design – economic, ethical, political, user-centered, rhetorical, and legal. We will explore accessibility through a lens of disability studies and disability activism, which provide additional contexts for understanding the importance of accessibility within physical and digital environments. We will also discuss and practice rhetorical and legal standards of effective and accessible design (WCAG 2.0, Section 508, WGBH’s standards), through an “intervention” assignment. While we will work on our digital presentation skills at large, we will focus particularly on implementing closed-captioning and audio descriptions (with Camtasia) to movies, youtube videos, and online educational videos. By the end of the course, students should have a good understanding of disability theory, be able to make a strong case for accessible design, have improved their video production and design skills, and understand how to design or approach multiple technologies for optimal design and accessibility.

Spring 2014

ENGL 5410: Studies in Digital Media Production
Responsive Web Design & Technical Communication

Dr. Rebecca Walton

This course will equip you with skills, problem-solving strategies, and relevant concepts for developing professional communication that can be viewed on devices with a range of screen sizes, including mobile devices. You will leave this course able to articulate what the rising trend of mobile computing has to do with technical communication, able to argue against extreme positions of technophobe and technophile, able to evaluate what makes an effective and well-designed mobile site, and able to develop responsive websites that can be used and viewed on a range of devices. If you work hard, by the end of the semester, you will be equipped with these abilities and have a portfolio piece to prove them to potential employers.

You will develop skills in responsive web design. You will also develop skills in working with clients to inform the development of professional communication that best meets their needs. You will develop competencies in writing succinctly, in summarizing and signposting content, and in working with a team. You will develop points of view that can inform your professional identity as a technical communicator: e.g., understanding the role of technical communicators in web design, content creation, communication strategy, and other professional communication activities that are vital to organizations like businesses and nonprofit organizations.

ENGL 5490
Game Usability

Dr. Ryan Moeller

This course is designed to prepare you to work in multiple roles as a usability tester and to understand the industry trends surrounding usability in product design. This course is designed to address the following objectives of the professional and technical writing emphasis area.

Students will know about basic concepts and procedures for usability testing and games user research The importance of teamwork in the profession.