Writing for the blog

September8

This post will outline my expectations for your ‘Tech Comm is Everywhere!’ project, and I’ll share some tips that will help you create better posts and earn a better grade.

My goals for this blog are as follows:

  • Demonstrate and discuss how current technologies are relevant to the field of technical communication;
  • Share examples of technical communication in action in our lived experiences, and analyze how those communications impact us. Also, discuss whether we think the items in the examples are effective, and what we might change about them to make them better;
  • Ask important questions about readings and topics we discuss in class.

All your blog posts should fall into one of these three broad categories.

Remember, posts on this blog are about technical communication, not general technical interest news pieces. An example:

There’s a new technology developed by Manu Prakash at Stanford called the Foldscope, a microscope made from folded paper and a printed lens that costs less than one dollar. This is pretty cool, but just linking to the website or a news piece about the technology is not a blog post.

The Foldscope

The Foldscope

For a blog entry, you might compare the NPR interview with Prakash against his Ted Talk, analyzing how each piece explains the technology to different audiences. You could discuss how the NPR piece is short and geared toward a general interest audience, citing as evidence the reporter’s use of simple explanations and short quotes; by contrast, Prakash, in his Ted talk, discusses the need for and applications of the Foldscope in greater detail because he has a longer talk time and the ability to show accompanying visuals.

Just posting links is not enough to earn a ‘C’ or better. You must discuss your examples with respect to topics or readings we are covering in the course.

Some tips to write good blog entries:

  • Keeping it short and to the point is fine and good, but make sure you say something significant that relates back to our course (again, “here’s a link to something cool” is not a blog entry);
  • If you are talking about a visual example, include a picture or embed a video from YouTube so long as it doesn’t violate copyright laws. Use the following guidelines, and ask me if you aren’t sure:
  • OK NOT OK
    Critiquing image or providing an example for a discussion of the topic. Tossing in a stock image that someone else owns for no reason other than to fill up space.
    Linking to things on YouTube relevant to your analysis. Taking video on your smartphone of a film and uploading it to this site.
    Excerpting a paragraph from a news article for your post and linking to the article. Reproducing the whole article on this site.
  • End your blog post with a targeted question if you are looking to start a discussion (e.g. “Does anyone have ideas for other blog goals I should list here?”), but don’t end your blog post with a vague question that prompts phatic responses (e.g. “What do you guys think?”).
  • Comments must actually contribute something meaningful. Avoid simplistic comments, e.g. “Thanks for posting!” or “Really cool!” etc.
  • Remember to use descriptive tags. Write tags like “audience” or “low-cost technology” that reference specific topics in your post. Avoid non-descriptive tags like “week 3″ or “techcomm” that don’t organize your post into any meaningful group.
  • Check for appropriate tags for your post by clicking “Choose from the most used tags” in the Tags box. Do your part to avoid creating a bunch of variations on the same tag, e.g. “audience” / “audiences” / “audience_considerations” etc.

I’ll grade blog posts on a five point scale, with 5 being excellent, 3 being average, and 1 being poor. I obviously can’t give points for entries you don’t write.

Category: Admin

Office hours

August28

The results are in:

Day Votes
Monday 8
Tuesday 13
Wednesday 10

Office hours will be Tuesday from 3-5pm, and Wednesday 4:30-6pm. I’ll be in my office during these times starting on Wednesday, 9/3.

Category: Admin

Welcome!

August21

Welcome to COM 421: Technical Communication. For our first class, we’re going to review the syllabus, you’re going to tell me a bit about yourselves by taking a brief diagnostic, and we’ll get started using the course website.

Lastly, provided we have time, we’ll take a look at some circuit diagrams.

Category: Admin