Texas Tech University

TCR Graduate Courses Summer 2009

Distance Courses ~June 1 - ~August 7 (6:00 - 7:30 p.m.)

Course Title Instructor Date Sections CRN
ENGL 5369 Discourse and Technology: The Rhetoric of Personal Agency Kemp Tuesdays D21
second discussion night (to split class into 2 parts) Thursdays
ENGL 5373 Technical Manuals, special topic on Instructional Design and Development Baehr Tuesdays D21
ENGL 5376: Online Publishing, special topic on Reading / Composing for Mobile Devices Rice Wednesdays D21
ENGL 5377 Theoretical Approaches:

Consulting and Independent Contracting
Barker Mondays D21
ENGL 5386 Discourse and Social Issues Web Accessibility Zdenek Mondays D21

May Workshop Distance Courses (daily 5/11 - 5/23, 1:30 - 5:30)

officially as summer courses, but available only to students attending the 2-week May workshop

ENGL 5375 Document Design Kimball 1:30-5:30 Daily D21: 23257
D31: 23265
ENGL 5388 Usability Testing Still 1:30-5:30 Daily D21: 23304
D31: 23330

this course will take place during the May workshop and is available for local students by permission.

ENGL 5365 Studies in Composition: New Media Rhetoric Rice 1:30-5:30 Daily D21: 23149
D31: 23189

Note: All online students register for section D21 or D22 except non-Texas-resident online doctoral students, who register for section D31 or D32.


ENGL 5365: New Media Rhetoric

Technical communicators often see problems in their communities that require sophisticated plans to resolve. Such problems might include using multiple media types to explain material, to instruct, or to design feasibility analysis reports. English 5365: Media/Rhetoric is designed to introduce students to theoretical and practical complexities and practicalities of working with new media. We will discuss different formulations of what "new media" might mean while reading a variety of important and mind-opening works about media, and while putting our new knowledge into practice with group projects.

ENGL 5369 Discourse and Technology: The Rhetoric of Personal Agency

For several thousand years, the ancient dynamic for creating community and focusing group purpose and identity centered entirely upon the orator and the orator's rhetorical skills. The powerfully delivered words of an accomplished speaker decided legal issues and motivated political will. While that dynamic still exists (witness the highly facilitating rhetorical skills of Barack Obama) the extraordinary person-to-person connectivity enabled by the Internet has given rise to a new organizing principle based upon a personal agency now projected independently into the ether. For the first time in history, everyday people have the ability to present their ideas to a few or to many, with almost zero cost, with almost no technological overhead or burden, and with practically no human mediation.

This digital capability appears to have stimulated a new organizing principle, or at least suggested one. As broadcast television declines, as print journalism declines, as the ancient principle of one-to-many undergoes a startling revision, the current citizen increasingly discovers a new mode of attaching himself or herself to ideas and social theories and community values, a mode that -- amazingly! -- he or she glomes onto as something of a central participant, a central participant among a wide-ranging field of central participants.

Suddenly, and in the general scheme of things this happened very suddenly, all members of a community have attained a new rhetorical standing, in some ways a new rhetorical equality. The Internet complexly delivers person-to-person contact with such competency that older technologies of inclusion and exclusion seem passe. Previously, whoever held the microphone (in Lord of the Flies, the conch shell) had the "floor." Now, the "floor" has become the computer in front of you, if it is connected, and few computers these days aren't connected. Nobody can disconnect the amp.

Those conditioned to one-to-many rhetorical and managerial systems are disconcerted, if not frightened. How can anything reasonable come from this cacophony of voices?

But it isn't a cacophony of voices. It is a system of interaction that distills structure from a new kind of rhetoric, a rhetoric of personal agency. In simplest terms, capable voices rise to the top, and weak voices sink to the bottom. Instead of the overwhelming authority of a Pericles or a Cicero, we find a gathering authority of capable participants, many, many capable participants. One person isn't moving the crowd this way and that, the way that Brutus and Antony move the mob of Rome, but an accumulation of voices gather like attractors to assert an attitude, a value, even a political position.

That the technology is irresistible is something nobody can deny. As rhetoricians, we must look at irresistibility very carefully. A Caesar, an Augustine, an Elizabeth I, a Hitler, all managed irresistibility extraordinarily well in their use of language. Now we have a new irresistibility, the digital irresistibility, and we must learn what this portends for the decisions we will be inclined to make.

Course website: http://ttopic.english.ttu.edu/manual/manualframe.asp?typeof=5369_su09

ENGL 5373 Technical Manuals: Instructional Design and Development.

This graduate-level course provides an overview of the processes involved in developing instructional materials for a professional setting, including user and task analysis, learning methods, Web-based training development, training in asynchronous and synchronous environments, single-sourcing, and assessment methods. It covers theoretical aspects of instructional architectures, instructional design, user-centered design, and online pedagogy, as well as the practical aspects of using learning objects and instructional tools. And finally we'll look at best practices, examples and methods for online instructional delivery, through a variety of communication software tools. Coursework will involve developing an instructional project and the two major course readings will be Horton's E-Learning by Design and Lee & Owens's Multimedia-Based Instructional Design.

ENGL 5375 Document Design.

This course will focus on the visual and physical aspects of documents, grounding practical document design skills in theories of visual perception, visual culture, and visual rhetoric. The primary goals of the course are to broaden your awareness of the theoretical constructs we can use to develop successful document designs and to give you further practice in document design.

Because this is a graduate course, the work required will be both theoretical and practical. On the theoretical side, you will read and discuss a variety of theoretical discussions about document design and related areas of study, such as visual rhetoric, visual literacy, cognitive psychology, color theory, visual ethics, and information graphic design. You will also write an essay analyzing the design of one or more documents. On the practical side, you will complete a series of exercises and a document design project for a real client during the two-week May Workshop.


Students should be able to fulfill the following outcomes through taking this course:

  1. Analyze document designs and their contexts through a variety of theoretical and practical viewpoints. Methods of assessment: Analytical essays, project situational analysis report.
  2. Design effective and creative visual designs in response to communication situations. Methods of assessment: Collaborative design project.
  3. Articulate reasons behind design decisions. Methods of assessment: Reflective report on design project.
  4. Manage design projects. Methods of assessment: Progress reports.

ENGL 5376: Online Publishing (special topic on Reading / Composing for Mobile Devices)

The rhetorical triangle has traditionally included reader, writer, and text. Mobile devices implicate time and space as well. How does location and screen space impact information creation and distribution? What are best practice site and app designs? In what ways are web 2.0 and multimedia technologies being used? What is convergence culture and the impact of ubiquitous tools on reading and writing? This special topics course will explore these questions. The course requires ready access to a web-enabled mobile device. Required books include:

  • D.E. Wittkower's iPod and Philosophy: iCon of an ePoch (2008)
  • John Palfrey and URS Gasser's Born Digital: Understanding the First Generation of Digital Natives (2008)
  • Henry Jenkins' Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide (2008)

Mac and PC users are both welcome. Students will create a website designed for a mobile device, and/or an iPhone/iPod Touch app. Recommend books include Amy C. Kimme Hea's Going Wireless: A Critical Exploration of Wireless and Mobile Technologies for Composition Teachers and Researchers (2009), and any iPhone SDK development book. Additional readings provided as needed.

ENGL 5377 Consulting and Independent Contracting.

This course is intended as an introduction to doing independent work as a consultant and contractor in technical communication in the field of public health and public policy. Students will learn how to build their resource portfolios as consultants in these areas of public discourse, learning resources and practices that can lead to successful consultant projects. Students will learn the research and reporting requirements of consultants in these areas. They will also learn the stages and management demands for completing a consulting project. We will work toward achieving these outcomes by entering into the discourse community of consultants (through email lists and peer mentoring with actual consultants) and by completing a research-oriented service project in public health or public policy fields.


  • Understand the resources available to consultants in public health and public policy.
  • Understand the requirements of researching and reporting as consultants in public health and public policy.
  • Understand the management procedures required to undertake a consulting project.

Assignments include: service-learning project requiring research and a consultant report, basic consulting business materials (business plan, web site, sample documents, marketing materials, resume, contracts, letters of agreement, non-disclosure forms), literature review of main sources available to public health or public policy consultants. Texts will include web and print sources in research design, report design, and project management.

Website: http://www.faculty.english.ttu.edu/barker/5377/

ENGL 5386 Discourse and Technology: Accessibility and Disability Issues

According to recent U.S. census data (2006), forty-one million Americans (or 15% of the noninstitutionalized civilian population over five years of age) "have some level of disability." Too often, web content and services are woefully inaccessible for people with disabilities. In order to design optimally accessible environments and documents, technical communicators need to understand how people with disabilities access electronic information. In this course, students will read about and discuss a number of arguments for accessible design -- economic, ethical, user-centered, and legal. We will explore accessibility through the lens of disability studies and disability activism, which provide important contexts for understanding the importance of accessibility within physical and digital environments. We will also discuss legal and international standards for designing accessible websites (WCAG 1.0 and 2.0, Section 508); accessibility testing and tools; recent landmark cases, including Target.com v. National Federation of the Blind; and, through a series of workshops and "intervention" assignments, how to apply accessibility standards to a number of web technologies (HTML, CSS, podcasts, flash movies, javascript, pdfs, web videos, and so on). By the end of the course, students should have a good understanding of disability theory and Web accessibility, be able to make a strong case for accessible design, and understand how to design web technologies for optimal usability.

Required books

  • Davis, Lennard J., ed. (2006) The Disability Studies Reader. 2nd edition. New York: Routledge. ISBN: 0-415-95334-0.
  • Thatcher, Jim et al. (2006) Web Accessibility: Web Standards and Regulatory Compliance. Berkeley: Friend of Ed. ISBN: 1-59059-638-2.

We'll also read a small number of supplementary articles. They will be available electronically on the course website.

Expected learning outcomes. Upon completion of the course, students should be able to:

  1. Identify and discuss the major trends, questions, and theories in the area of disability studies, especially as they intersect technology studies and web accessibility;
  2. Understand how to design a variety of Web technologies for optimal accessibility;
  3. Apply disability theory critically to the analysis and evaluation of rhetorical artifacts and situations;
  4. Develop a comprehensive understanding of one area of disability and accessibility studies;
  5. Work on a problem at the intersection of disability, rhetoric, accessibility, and technology, with the aim of making a contribution to a scholarly conversation or accessibility community.

Course website

The course website isn't ready yet, but students who are deciding whether to take this course can look at the course materials for the Fall 2008 version of the course. If you have any questions, please let Dr. Zdenek know (sean.zdenek@ttu.edu).

Fall 2008 syllabus: http://cms.english.ttu.edu/zdenek/courses/fall-2008/engl-5386-f08-web-accessibility-and-disability-studies/

ENGL 5388 Usability Testing.

This course attempts to balance the theory of usability testing with the practice of actually conducting usability tests. It aims for two distinct modes. The first involves the concepts of usability testing, and will require that you do the assigned readings and participate fully in class discussion. I will expect you to ask questions, to connect ideas from various readings, and to connect these theories to our activities in the actual usability lab. The second mode of this course involves spending time in the usability lab, plugging in wires, rolling tape, positioning microphones and cameras, digitizing and editing video, and generally becoming very familiar with the workings of gathering data.

The lab experiences will take place during the May seminar for online doctoral students. Any work will be completed in class or no later than June 1.

I use Moodle, a learning management system, to manage the course ( http://www.brianstill.com/moodle). I'll send enrollment information to students in the weeks leading up to the beginning of class. After enrolling you'll see the course syllabus and all the units for the course with readings assigned to each one. You should read the articles and chapters found in the first three units before arriving. All readings for the course, aside from Carol Barnum's book on Usability Testing (you can purchase this online) can be accessed as .pdfs in the "Readings" section of the site, or by clicking on links to them listed under each unit.