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What is this class about?

This internship explores professional writing in digital environments with a focus on user experience (UX) research, design, content strategy, usability testing, and project management via readings and hands-on design work, providing theoretical knowledge and skills to understand the human-centered web development process and to manage a web project. You will experience different aspects of professional writing through human-centered website design, from planning and researching to testing, iterating, and future-thinking project maintenance. This course requires technical practice with software as well as rhetorical awareness and conceptual discussions of the contexts and systems that those technologies are embedded in.

Practicing professional writing in digital environments in this way is not so much about learning complex programming as it is about engaging users, technologies, and the networks that link them together. As citizens of an increasingly networked world, we need to understand the limitations and strengths of the web and the ways in which information must be modified for screen viewing. The objective of this course is to mentor students’ work with these systems and to provide a supportive but critical environment for engaging them.


What if I need an accommodation?

Your success in this class is important to me. We will all need accommodations because we all learn, think, and write differently. This course affirms students’ right to the languages and dialects you grew up speaking, or those in which you find your own identity and style. We will find ways to honor and respect what these languages can teach about writing and rhetoric. If there are aspects of this course that prevent you from learning or exclude you, please let me know. Together we’ll develop strategies to meet both your needs and the requirements of the course.

For official accommodations

If you need an official accommodation, you have a right to have these met. I encourage you to visit The Office of Disabilities Resources, located in Benson Center, Second floor, Room 216 or visit https://www.scu.edu/disabilities/register-with-dr/ (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.. The Office of Disabilities Resources will request documentation and make a determination regarding the nature of the accommodation to which you are entitled.

For pregnant and parenting students

Pregnant and parenting students can often arrange accommodations by working directly with me. In alignment with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, and with the California Education Code, Section 66281.7, Santa Clara University provides reasonable accommodations to students who are pregnant, have recently experienced childbirth, and/or have medical needs related to childbirth. If you experience related medical conditions, you may request accommodations through Disability Resources located in Benson Center, Second floor, Room 216 or visit https://www.scu.edu/disabilities/register-with-dr/ (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site..

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What materials do I need? Where do I access course materials?

  • To facilitate ongoing reflection about how theories of professional writing and UX apply to professional experiences we will use the following resources:

    • Slack: for communication and accessing course materials

    • Trello: for project management

  • Your own website (using a platform of your choice) that you will design, tinker, and test as your portfolio:

What will I learn?

After this course, you will be able to:

  • Research the needs and assumptions of real audiences in a variety of cultural and societal contexts, and advocate for those audiences

  • Identify ways that technologies (e.g. networked environment, video screen) and designs present different affordances for communicating information and engaging audiences

  • Explore multiple approaches to research and design (e.g. ethical listening, participatory design, usability testing) across project cycles and select methodologies that are appropriate to given contexts

  • Develop designs (including media and alphabetic content) using a variety of information sources including community partners and interdisciplinary collaborators

  • Test the functionality, usability, and accessibility of their designs for diverse cultural contexts and audience

  • Articulate the appropriateness and rationale of their rhetorical choices

What assignments will I do?

Annotations | informal reading notes and reflections

Before each class, you will post your reading notes to our Slack channel #reading. These are informal—maybe you interact physically with readings by writing on books, post-its, or on paper—take pictures and post those to your website. Maybe you interact with a text digitally, using apps like onenote or zotero. Screenshot your notes and post them. However you annotate should serve you in identifying what struck you most about the readings, how that aspect relates to the article/chapter as a whole, and why it struck you. These annotations and notes give us an idea of how you engage the readings, they jump-start in-class discussion, and will provide you with artifacts that you can use in your eportfolio at the end of the quarter.

Client project | Listen, Research, Plan, Design, Test, Repeat, Present

This quarter you will apply the methods and theories you are learning to a sustained project with one, on campus client. While the exact shape of this project will be a negotiation between the client, yourself, your peers, and us (your professors), they will always involve these touch points and deliverables:

  1. Client brief: A brief memo composed after a listening meeting with your client. It will note: current challenges and contexts, goals, roles, timelines, and tasks

  2. Landscape analysis: To familiarize yourself with the types of work your client asks for, you will conduct quick research of other, exceptional models, noting important design elements. Additionally, you will research your client’s current website/product as is, noticing and focusing on their goals, your challenges.

  3. Strategic plan : Based on your client brief and your landscape analysis, as a team with your peers you will 1) create tasks needed to complete your client’s goals 2) organize those tasks along terms of priority, ease, and dependency 3) schedule those tasks along a project timeline and 4) delegate those tasks

  4. Prototype : Using your research and strategic plan, you will create drafts, what we call wireframes, mockups, and design comps, of your client product. These quick sketches or prototypes are enough for you to prove your concept, or to realize you have to revise.

  5. Usability test : At many stages in your design process you will conduct low and high fidelity usability tests to determine if your proposed designs are accessible, inclusive, functional, and usable.

  6. Full fidelity deliverable presented to client : After you iterate your work based on your usability testing and complete your full fidelity deliverable (i.e. complete and final version), you will compose an implementation and sustainability plan that guides your client in using your work in the present, and in the future.

Showing your work | Case Study and EPortfolio

Your final project will come in two parts. First, you will compose a visually appealing case study that illustrates:

  1. Context about your client, their website/product needs

  2. Your role(s)

  3. The tools you used

  4. A narrative of your process

  5. A situated discussion of your theoretical and methodological rationale along that process and

  6. The completed product

This case study will be the center focus of part two of this project: your own eportfolio. As we work together during this quarter, many of the class exercises and homework will revolve around you researching, designing, prototyping, and building your own website.

What will we do in class?

Using language is inherently a social process, which makes our writing social acts although we might not think of them as such. Many people find discussions with trusted mentors, colleagues, friends, or family to be an invaluable way to develop and polish ideas. Professionals in most disciplines, for example, attend conferences so that they can discuss ideas with colleagues and leading researchers. Writers in business and scientific contexts commonly work in teams with individuals responsible for their areas of expertise, such as marketing language, audience, finance, research, and editing.  Many writers do not feel comfortable beginning a new project until they have discussed their ideas with others. Successful writers do not wait until they have completed a project before seeking constructive criticism. Instead, they share early drafts with critics.

Because of the social nature of writing, designing, and researching, we will share our work and thoughts even if we aren’t comfortable. This collaborative agreement will guide interactions in this course. With each other, we will clarify expectations and foster an environment of mutual respect and collaborative inquiry. We will revisit these guidelines throughout the quarter to reflect on group process or to frame potentially challenging conversations.

  • Confidentiality and comfort. We want to create an atmosphere for open, honest exchange. Knowing that, have the confidence to speak out and share opinions and ideas because we are all learning and we are all together.

  • Our primary commitment is to learn from each other. We will listen to each other and not talk at each other. We will read each other’s writing, not as a fixer, evaluator, or critic. We acknowledge differences amongst us in backgrounds, skills, interests, and values. We realize that it is these very differences that will increase our awareness and understanding through this process.

  • Be honest, be helpful, never harsh. Don’t tear your classmates down, instead give specific and detailed feedback that is constructive. We will not demean, devalue, or “put down” people for their writing, experiences, lack of experiences, or difference in interpretation of those experiences.

  • Listen, delay judgements and assumptions. We will trust that people are doing the best they can.

  • Challenge the idea and not the person. If we wish to challenge something that has been said or written, we will challenge the idea or the practice referred to, not the individual sharing this idea or practice.

  • Speak your discomfort. If something is bothering you, please share this with the group. If you make a mistake and say something you didn’t mean to say or write something that came off differently than you intended, recognize your mistake with Oops. If your feelings are hurt by something said or written, vocalize it with Ouch. Often our emotional reactions to this process offer the most valuable learning opportunities.

  • Step Up, Step Back. Be mindful of taking up much more space than others. On the same note, empower yourself to speak up when others are dominating the conversation.

  • Take group work seriously. Remember that your peers’ learning partly depends upon your engagement.

  • Be careful about how you use humor or irony in class. Keep in mind that we don’t all find the same things funny.

  • Understand that we are bound to make lots of mistakes in this class, as anyone does when learning a new language, a new way of thinking, and new ways of writing. Take risks and support others in their risk-taking.

How will I be graded?

Our classroom serves as a workspace for invention, creation, and practicing of different ways of thinking and writing. Similar to an art studio, we will use a studio approach to strengthen your understanding of writing through reading, discussion, and practice—that means we are constantly at work in the classroom: generating new ideas, tinkering with writing we’ve already drafted, sharing strategies for improving some writing we are looking at together, etc. We will talk about and practice writing in various genres, formats, and media to work with and examine the approaches to writing teaching and development described in the readings. In-class activities will also help you approach the major writing assignments in the class. As a result, grading in this class is inspired by labor-based grading contract models, a model that focuses on work processes of students rather than quality of work alone. Because so much of the laboring in writing and thinking is often invisible to professors, you will have a midterm and final grading conference with me where we will discuss your laboring and determine your grade together.

...labor is work the body does over time. Labor in the writing classroom is the experience of languaging. No matter what our pedagogical assumptions are about learning or literacy, about grades or how to evaluate student writing, we all take for granted that our students must labor in order to learn. They must read or write, take notes or discuss. All pedagogies ask students to labor, to do something in order to gain something else. However, typical grading systems rarely account for students’ labor in any way...Because labor is neglected in such conventional grading systems, they often are unfair to diverse groups of students.

They [labor-based grading contracts] open a space for practices that can fail or miss the mark, allowing students the freedom to take risks, and try new things in their writing without the fear of losing points or failing the course. They allow students and teacher chances to redefine failure more productively (see also Inoue, “Theorizing Failure”), since failure is just a situated judge’s assessment of a performance that assumes a single standard, without acknowledging other differently situated judges and standards.
— Asao Inoue

Final grade

Area 1: Annotations

Area 2: Client Project

Area 3: Case Study and Eportfolio

Pass

Completes all areas

Fail

Does not complete all areas

What is academic integrity? What is plagiarism?

The Academic Integrity pledge is an expression of the University’s commitment to fostering an understanding of -- and commitment to -- a culture of integrity at Santa Clara University. The Academic Integrity pledge, which applies to all students, states:

I am committed to being a person of integrity. I pledge, as a member of the Santa Clara University community, to abide by and uphold the standards of academic integrity contained in the Student Conduct Code

Students are expected to uphold the principles of this pledge for all work in this class.

Plagiarism is a complicated issue for students and faculty alike. We will discuss plagiarism in the digital age as part of our class inquiry. Yet, I need you to understand that I will follow Santa Clara University’s academic honesty policies. You can read more about SCU’s policy here: http://www.scu.edu/studentlife/resources/upload/Academic-Integrity-Protocol-Document.pdf (Links to an external site.)

What if I see or face harassment and discrimination?

Santa Clara University upholds a zero-tolerance policy for discrimination, harassment and sexual misconduct. If you (or someone you know) have experienced discrimination or harassment, including sexual assault, domestic/dating violence, or stalking, I encourage you to tell someone promptly. For more information, please consult the University’s Gender-Based Discrimination and Sexual Misconduct Policy at http://bit.ly/2ce1hBb  (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.or contact the University's EEO and Title IX Coordinator, Belinda Guthrie, at 408-554-3043, bguthrie@scu.edu. Reports may be submitted online through the Office of Student Life https://www.scu.edu/osl/report/ (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. or anonymously through EthicsPoint https://www.scu.edu/hr/quick-links/ethicspoint/ (Links to an external site.)

What if I don’t feel good?

Santa Clara University is a Jesuit Institution wherein the value of cura personalis, translated to care for the whole person, holds a place of incredibly high importance. Caring for oneself in both a physical and mental sense is paramount to a student’s ability to live an enjoyable life at Santa Clara University, excel in academia, and reach their full potential in all aspects of their personhood.

  • Try to get an appropriate amount of sleep each night; the recommended amount of sleep for adults ages 18-25 is 7-9 hours.

  • Visit the Wellness Center’s (currently located at 852 Market Street) website to see what resources are available on campus to aid and promote student well-being at https://www.scu.edu/wellness/ (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site..

  • Utilize the six free counseling sessions you are given from Counseling and Psychological Service. The number to make an appointment with CAPS is (408) 554-4501. Visit the Counseling and Psychological Services website to learn more about these sessions and more at https://www.scu.edu/cowell/caps/ (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site..

  • If you are sick, please check in with me regarding your ability to attend class. By continuing to attend class while feeling sick, you are not only harming your own health, but likely the health of those around you as well. If you are feeling ill, visit Cowell Health Center during the operating hours of 8:30 am to 5:00pm, Monday through Friday. Visit the Cowell’s center website to learn more about the various services this health center provides at https://www.scu.edu/cowell/