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Week 15 and Finals Week: Wrapping Up the Best Practices Article and the Client Project

We’re almost there — the end of the semester is less than two weeks away! It’s been a great semester, and I’m excited to read your articles and see your finished client sites. At this point, you should be polishing your article based on the feedback you received in class, and your team should be conducting usability tests on your client site.

Our last two class sessions will help you revise your site based on those tests. Here’s a brief preview:

  • Your Best Practices Article is due before you come to class on Monday. Please follow the guidelines on the assignment sheet for submitting your article. During class, we will consider how to apply the results of your usability tests as you revise your site. Before you come to class, please review at least two of the sample usability reports linked on the Resources page and ensure that all of your team’s usability test results are collected in a single location (e.g., a shared Google Drive folder). The remainder of class will be dedicated workshop time for your team.
  • On Wednesday, we will conduct a critique session for the Client Project, then I will meet briefly with each team to help you determine what steps you need to take before you submit your completed project. I won’t be able to spend a lot of time with each team during class, so if you need serious technical help with your site, please come see me during office hours on Tuesday (1–4) or Wednesday (9–12).

Because you’ll be submitting your final projects online, we will not hold a formal final exam. However, please remember the deadlines for the last few taks you need to complete:

  • Your Client Project is due no later than May 14 at 10:05 a.m. (our university-assigned time slot for the final exam). Please submit your team’s memo of transmittal any additional materials (usability results, wireframes, screenshots of early drafts, client feedback, or anything else listed in your team’s MOU) by placing them in your team’s shared Google Drive folder (which should also be shared with me).
  • Your individually completed “Team Evaluation Form,” which I will distribute during Week 15, should be slid under my office door (Shanks 427) or placed in my department mailbox (#8, located next to Shanks 323) before the Unit #4 due date.
  • Last but not least, if you have not completed the Student Perceptions of Teaching (SPOT) questionnaire for this course, please do so no later than May 8. I’d like to know what you think went well this semester, but I’m especially interested in receiving your feedback about how I could improve this course next time I teach it.

As always, if you have any questions about these items, please drop me a line. I’ll try to be in my office as much as I can for the next week, so let me know if you need to come by during a time other than my “official” office hours. Good luck wrapping things up!

Week 14: Team Workshop; Best Practices Peer Critique

After meeting with each team during class yesterday, I’ve decided that you need a little more time to refine your client sites before you begin conducting usability tests. The good news is that the problems with our Reclaim Hosting sites have been resolved, so your team should be able to make good progress on your site over the weekend. I’ve also adjusted our course calendar to let you focus on Exam #2 this weekend. The first draft of your Best Practices Article will now be due on Wednesday, and the final draft will be due on May 5.

Here’s a quick overview of how we’ll use our in-class time during Week 14:

  • If you are taking Exam #2, it is due at the beginning of class on Monday. Please follow the instructions on the exam for submitting both print and electronic copies. Our entire class session will be a dedicated work session for Unit #4, so come to class ready to resolve any remaining issues with your client site and finalize your usability testing protocol (using Steve Krug’s sample script linked on the Resources page). Before you leave class, your team should be ready to begin conducting tests with real people. (Please note that one hour will not be enough time to accomplish these tasks if you have not made any progress over the weekend!)
  • On Wednesday, we will dedicate most of class to a peer critique workshop for Unit #3, so please come to class with a solid draft of your article, which should be located somewhere on your Reclaim Hosting site. As you write your article, refer to the assignment details and do your best to follow the guidelines of the publication you are targeting. If time allows, we will use the remainder of class for another Unit #4 team meeting.

If there’s anything I can do to help you with the Best Practices Article or help your team with the Client Project, please don’t hesitate to ask.

Week 13: Usability Testing; Exam #2

We are now in the home stretch of the semester, with only six class sessions remaining before finals week. We will need to use our time wisely to make sure that your client projects stay on track. Our in-class exercises will help us accomplish that goal, but your team will need to make solid progress outside of class, too. If you haven’t been meeting regularly as a team, that needs to change ASAP. At this point, your team should have personas, wireframes, a completed content inventory, and a good sense of which software or framework you plan to use for your client site. All members of your team should have specific assignments and know exactly what they need to accomplish between now and our next class session.

Speaking of our upcoming class sessions, here’s how we’ll spend our time during Week 13:

  • On Monday, we’ll focus on usability testing by watching a usability expert conduct a test, then conducting a usability test of our own. Before you come to class, please read “Super Easy Usability Testing,” by John S. Rhodes, and review the “Usability Testing,” “Planning a Usability Test,” and “Running a Usability Test,” sections of Usability.gov.
  • At the beginning of class on Wednesday, your team should be ready to show me a rough first draft of your client site. I expect that these drafts will be very rough, but having a draft means that your team will need to finalize some key decisions about your site: Static files or content management system? Which static framework or which CMS? Which theme(s) might work best? Which content stays, goes, or gets revised? During class, your team will work to finalize your usability testing protocol, using Steve Krug’s sample script linked on the Resources page. At the end of class, you will submit your protocol for my approval. I will spend a few minutes meeting with each team during class, so if you have questions about your client project or problems you’d like me to help you resolve, please be ready to talk about them.

Finally, a few words about our second exam: Because we have a limited number of class sessions left, Exam #2 will be an open-book, open-note (but not open-classmate), take-home exam. As we discussed earlier in the semester, the exam will be optional, which means that you only need to complete the exam if you are unhappy with your score on the first exam. If you are satisfied with your grade on that exam, I will simply duplicate that score for Exam #2. However, if you would like the opportunity to raise your exam grade, you can take home a copy of the exam at the end of class on Wednesday and submit it at the beginning of class on Monday, April 28. (Please note that although a take-home exam is likely to produce higher grades than an in-class exam, a higher grade on Exam #2 is not guaranteed.)

As always, if you have any questions about these plans, or if you want to meet to discuss your team’s progress on the client project, please let me know.

Week 12: Building Websites with Content Management Systems

Now that you have finalized your Unit #4 memorandum of understanding, you should be making steady progress on your client site every week for the rest of the semester. I’ve scheduled several checkpoint assignments to help you stay on track, but you and your teammates will need to keep each other accountable, too. Perhaps most importantly, you’ll need to stay in regular contact with your client (at least once a week!) to prevent any unpleasant surprises at the conclusion of the project.

Here’s a brief overview of how we’ll spend our time during Week 12:

  • Sometime this weekend (no later than Sunday night), you should email me a one-paragraph proposal for your Best Practices Article. (If you want to submit two ideas, that’s fine — I’ll try to help you select the best one.) In class on Monday, we will explore the pros and cons of using content management systems to power your client sites, so please read the following articles before you come to class: “Why Do I Need a Content Management System?” and “Designing for Content Management Systems.” In addition, we’ll be installing some CMSes on your Reclaim Hosting sites, so please be sure to have your login credentials with you.
  • On Wednesday, your team should submit at least two wireframes for your Client Project at the beginning of class. During class, we will wrap up our discussion of The Elements of User Experience, so please read Chapters 7–8 (pp. 130-63) before you come to class. We will spend the rest of class in a WordPress workshop, learning how to evaluate and modify themes and plugins. After our workshop on Monday, will have an installation of WordPress running on your personal site, so spend some time familiarizing yourself with the WordPress dashboard, the difference between posts and pages, and the process of switching themes and activating plugins. If you run into problems or find yourself confused, I recommend watching the “WordPress Essential Training” on Lynda.com or visiting the WordPress Codex and WordPress Forums. (Bookmark these sites! They will be your best friends if your team decides to use WordPress for Unit #4.)

If I can do anything to help your team make progress on the Client Project, please email me or come to see me during office hours (T 1–4, W 9-12).

Week 11: User-Centered Design

Now that we’ve discussed the assignment details for the Best Practices Article and the Client Project, you should begin making progress on both assignments. I’ll be traveling Wednesday through Sunday, but while I’m away, you should meet with your Unit #4 team, confirm the details of your project with your client (if you haven’t already), and draft the Memorandum of Understanding that will govern your work between now and the end of the semester. If you run into any problems while I’m gone, please let me know — I’ll be checking email every day.

For the rest of the semester, we’ll be working our way through the client project, and we’ll be using our second textbook to help us take a “user-centered design” approach to developing these sites. Here’s how we’ll dive in to that topic next week:

  • On Monday, we will begin discussing our next book: The Elements of User Experience, by Jesse James Garrett. Please read Chapters 1–3 (pp. 1–54) this weekend and be ready to discuss them in class. In addition, I will meet with each Unit #4 team to review your MOU and suggest revisions, so between now and Monday, your team should meet with your client (face-to-face if possible; virtually if necessary) to ensure that everyone understands the work you will (and won’t) do on this project.
  • On Wednesday, your team’s MOU (signed by all parties) is due at the beginning of class. During class, we will continue our discussion of The Elements of User Experience, so please read Chapters 4–6 (pp. 56–131) before you come to class. In addition, you should come to class with three ideas for your Best Practices Article and be ready to discuss them with your peers.

Good luck meeting with your clients!

Week 10: Introduction to the Best Practices Article and the Client Project

With the Website Modernization Project almost behind us (I can’t wait to see your finished sites on Monday!), we’re ready to turn our attention to the two remaining assignments that will keep us busy for the rest of the semester: the Best Practices Article and the Client Project. Please read through the details of each assignment this weekend and let me know if you have any questions about where we’re headed.

Here are a few quick reminders about how we’ll spend our time during Week 10:

  • Your Website Modernization Project is due on Monday. Please make sure that your project is live and functioning on your Reclaim Hosting site and that your memo of transmittal is uploaded to your shared Google Drive folder (in Google Docs format) before you come to class. In class, we will discuss the Client Project, so if you have any ideas for potential clients, please contact them this weekend to see if they are interested in getting your help. Last but not least, please read the following articles about working with clients:
  • On Wednesday, I will be traveling, so you and your new teammates on the Client Project should use our class session to hold your first team meeting and develop your Unit #4 Memorandum of Understanding, which will be due the following Monday (April 7). (This will make more sense after we meet on Monday; we’ll make sure that everyone is assigned to a team and we’ll do our best to finalize a client for each team.)

As always, I’ll be checking email regularly while I’m away from campus, so if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Week 9: Wrapping Up the Website Modernization Project

I will be traveling for the rest of Week 8, so this is an early update about Week 9. If you have any questions about these plans, I’ll be checking my email at least once a day while I’m gone.

While I’m away, remember that screenshots of your Unit #2 wireframes should be uploaded to your shared Google Drive folder before our regular class time on Wednesday, 3/19. Once you’ve created your wireframes, you should begin building the pages for your site by strategically combining Bootstrap components. I recommend using LayoutIt! or Jetstrap to simplify this process, but whatever tool you use, you should have a fully functional (but un-styled) site for your Unit #2 project by next Monday.

Here’s a quick overview of how we’ll spend our time next week:

  • On Monday, please come to class ready to show me a working draft of your Unit #2 site. At this point, your site will look very much like a generic Bootstrap site, and that’s OK. During class, we’ll experiment with some tools for styling Bootstrap sites and practice adding custom CSS to your site. If you’d like to get a jump start on our workshop, you should familiarize yourself with Bootswatch and Bootstrap Magic. You might also want to get some inspiration from the Bootstrap sites featured in these collections:
  • On Wednesday, we will conduct a peer critique workshop on your Unit #2 websites. Please come to class with a complete site, ready to be tested and reviewed by your peers. In order for everyone to see your site, it should be up and running on your Reclaim Hosting account before you come to class. This workshop will help you iron out any final wrinkles in the design and functionality of your site.

Good luck assembling your Unit #2 website this week! Remember: take a careful, methodical approach to combining the various components in the Bootstrap library and you’ll be fine.

Week 8: Wireframing and What Comes Next

Next week is spring break, and I hope all of you enjoy a well-deserved break. At the same time, I hope you won’t forget that you are only halfway through the Website Modernization Project. At this point, you should be making good progress on four interrelated tasks:

  • Experimenting with the Bootstrap framework until you feel confident creating new pages by combining various elements.
  • Downloading or copying/pasting all usable content from your client site. Depending on the state of client site, tools like SiteSucker and HTTrack might be helpful, but whatever method you use, you should have local copies of everything you plan to include in your new site.
  • Locating and/or creating any items on your Unit #2 “shopping list.” This includes images, videos, maps, and even written content.
  • Arranging the content (both old and new) into usable “chunks” (pages, sections, etc.) and cleaning up the HTML for each chunk. Each chunk should be saved as a separate file, ready to be dropped into your Boostrap template.

Shorter version: When we return from spring break, you should have all of the raw materials for your site and be ready to begin assembling them. Here’s how we’ll spend our time in class:

  • On Monday, we will spend most of class in a wireframing workshop. Before you come to class, please read “Sketching: the Visual Thinking Power Tool,” by Mike Rohde, and “Using Wireframes to Streamline Your Development Process,” by Eric Shafer. (See the “Wireframing” section of the Resources page for more links.)
  • I will be at a professional conference Tuesday through Saturday, so we will not have a formal class session on Wednesday. However, our computer lab will be available, and I hope you will take advantage of the opportunity to meet and help each other build the Bootstrap templates for your Unit #2 sites. Also, your homework for Wednesday is to submit wireframes for at least two different pages (e.g., home page, blog page, contact page, image gallery) of your Unit #2 site. (If you have created additional wireframes, I would love to see those, too.) You should upload your wireframes (or screenshots of your wireframes) to your Google Drive folder no later than 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday.

Because I’m traveling next week, I won’t be able to hold regular office hours, but I will be available by email. If you have any questions about your Unit #2 project while I’m gone, do not hesitate to contact me.

Week 7: Bootstrap Workshop, Plus a Taste of Tables

Now that our first exam is behind us (hooray!), we can shift our focus back to the Website Modernization Project. If you haven’t selected a client for this project, please do so ASAP and add your selection to the “Potential Clients for Unit 2” file in our class’s shared Google Drive folder. Once you know what site you will be working with, you should carefully review the site and start thinking about how you might reorganize the structure, revise the content, and reimagine the visual design.

You should also be getting comfortable with Bootstrap. I know this stuff is complicated, but there are plenty of resources online to help you. I suggest reading (or re-reading) the “Getting started” and “CSS” sections on the Bootstrap site, then moving on to video tutorials if you’re feeling lost. I recommend watching a video series on YouTube called “Bootstrap 3.0 Grid System” and/or a Lynda.com series called “Up and Running with Bootstrap 3” (search for it once you log in with your Virginia Tech ID). I cannot stress this enough: you need to keep working with Bootstrap until it feels intuitive.

Here’s how we’ll spend our time in class next week:

  • On Monday, we will quickly review the results of the first exam, then we will spend the rest of class working with Bootstrap. Before you come to class, please review Chapter 16 in Learning Web Design, focusing specifically on grid frameworks, fluid page design, and elastic layouts. Using the Bootstrap starter files, create a new homepage for your Unit #2 client site and bring those files with you to class.
  • On Wednesday we will hop in our time machine and visit web design’s former best friend: the table. Today, table-based layouts are widely considered verboten, but you shouldn’t leave this class without understanding why good designers don’t use them anymore and, more importantly, how to use them effectively for displaying tabular data. Please read Chapter 8 in Learning Web Design and “Bring on the Tables,” by Roger Johansson, before you come to class. (Update: When you get to class, download the files for our in-class workshop.)

As you can see, both of our class sessions will be packed next week, so much of your work on the Website Modernization Project will need to take place outside of class. If you have fallen behind on this project, or if you’re feeling confused at any point along the way, please come see me during office hours (T 1–4, W 9–12) to get some help on your project. If you’d like to reserve a specific time to meet with me, just drop me a line.

Week 6: Learning Responsive Web Design with Bootstrap; Exam #1

We have used Unit #1 as a platform for applying the basic principles of HTML and CSS covered in our textbook. At this point, none of you knows everything there is to know about web design (spoiler alert: you probably never will), but you should feel confident in your ability to look at HTML, CSS, and image files and understand how they fit together. For the remainder of the semester, we will use those basic principles to work with a variety of tools and templates that simplify the process of developing websites. The default tool for our Unit #2 project is Bootstrap, but the same underlying principles will apply to any responsive framework you might use in the future.

Here’s a brief summary of our plans for next week:

  • We will spend Monday in workshop mode, getting comfortable with the Bootstrap framework. Before you come to class, please read through the entire Bootstrap website, especially the “Getting started” and “CSS” pages. (The “Grid System” section on the CSS page is incredibly important; resist the temptation to skim it.) It also would be wise to download an extra copy of the Unit #2 starter files to practice the concepts explained on the Bootstrap site. Last but not least, please review the list of potential “clients” for Unit #2 located in our class’s shared Google Drive folder. Once you have explored several sites, claim the one that you would like to modernize for this assignment.
  • On Wednesday we will have the first exam of the semester. Please arrive ready to spend the entire class period on the exam, which will consist of three sections: multiple choice questions, short responses (definitions and mini-essays), and a markup exercise. Everything we have covered during the first five weeks of class is fair game for the exam, so please review your notes, reread textbook chapters, and form study groups with your classmates to ensure that you are prepared.

If you have any questions about these plans, or if you would like my opinion about your choice of website for Unit #2, please let me know. Otherwise, I’ll see you on Monday, ready for some fun with responsive web design!

Week 5: Wrapping Up Unit #1; Introduction to Unit #2

I hope you’re all safe and warm today, enjoying one of Virginia Tech’s rare snow days! The storm definitely threw off our schedule, but we’ll try to get back on track during Week 5. Here’s a quick overview of our plans:

If you want to talk about any of these plans, just let me know. Otherwise, have a great weekend!

Week 4: CSS Positioning, Advanced Typography, and Finishing Unit #1

It was great to see how quickly some of you worked your way through the tasks in our CSS workshop yesterday. For a few of you, though, the workshop served as a reminder that you need to be reading the textbook a little more carefully and working through the practice exercises at the end of each chapter. If you didn’t complete the 10 tasks in the workshop instructions, please do so this weekend and be ready to show me your files at the beginning of class on Monday.

During Week 4, you should be putting the finishing touches on the content of your Unit #1 site, then carefully reviewing your markup. (The W3C Validator is a harsh master!) It’s the week when your Unit #1 projects should go from good to great. Here’s how we’ll get there:

  • On Monday, we will learn how CSS can be used not just to style elements, but also to position them on the page. Before you come to class, please read Chapters 15 and 16 in Learning Web Design and identify at least one part of your Unit #1 site that could be modified using the concepts in these chapters. We’ll practice applying these concepts to your projects during class, but you may want to get a jump start on this before we meet. [Update: When you get to class, download our positioning workshop files.]
  • By Wednesday, you should have a complete draft of your Unit #1 site. Please be ready to show it to your peers during class. (This means it should be “live” and functioning properly on your Reclaim Hosting site.) In addition, we will experiment with a few advanced typographic strategies and apply those strategies to your Unit #1 sites. Before you come to class, please review Chapter 12 in Learning Web Design (you’ve read this before, but you should know it inside and out by Wednesday), then read and/or explore the following resources:

I know we’ve been moving very quickly through a lot of material lately, but these first few weeks in class are designed to help you understand the fundamental concepts of HTML and CSS, then apply those concepts to your Unit #1 project. If you’re not sure where you should be focusing your energy between now and February 17 (when Unit #1 is due), here are a few tips:

  • Two of the most basic aspects of style sheets are color and typography, so I’ll be looking for evidence that you know how to go beyond the default colors and fonts imposed by your browser.
  • We haven’t spent much time on CSS positioning (and getting positioning right can be really tricky), so I don’t expect to see incredibly complex page layouts. Your résumé doesn’t need to be complicated to be effective.
  • Along the same lines, remember that you’re creating a professional résumé designed to be seen by potential employers. Yes, you should inject some of your personality into the design, but a résumé may not be the best place to take big risks with an outlandish design.
  • This first assignment is intended, in part, to see how well you’ve been paying attention to the readings in our textbook. Your markup should be clean and well organized, and your HTML and CSS should validate.
  • If you aren’t comfortable with moving files from your computer to your Reclaim Hosting account via FTP, practice this skill over the weekend. (Reminder: the “public_html” directory is where your “live” files should go.) If you need help with this, come see me before you need to upload your final files when the project is due.

If you have any questions about where we’re headed, or if you want to reserve a time to see me during office hours (Tuesday 1-4; Wednesday 9-12), just let me know.

Week 3: Links, Images, Color, and the Box Model

We covered a lot of ground during Week 2, and I can tell that some of you are struggling to keep pace with our workshops. I can also tell that some of you think this is a breeze, but that doesn’t mean you can blow off our reading and homework assignments. (I saw a lot of sloppy markup in class yesterday!) Whatever your situation, don’t panic — we still have two weeks of class sessions to help you apply the concepts in our textbook to your Online Business Card and Résumé projects. Next week, we will review several topics and add a few new ones to the mix. Here’s what we’ll cover each day in class and what you need to do to prepare:

  • On Monday, we will focus on the “business card” for Unit #1, so please start thinking about what you want your website’s readers to see when they visit your site. Draft a “welcome” paragraph or two, and find an image (preferably of yourself) that you would like to use on your site. In addition, please read Chapters 6 and 7 in Learning Web Design before you come to class and make sure that the HTML file for your résumé is fully (and correctly!) “marked up.” (This might mean undoing some of the markup mistakes you made last week.) Your CSS file should be well on its way, too, with style declarations for typography and color. (I’ve added some new links to the Resources page that will help you with typography and color — please use them!)
  • On Wednesday, we will return our attention to CSS, focusing on colors, backgrounds, and the box model. Before you come to class, please read Chapters 13 and 14 in Learning Web Design and try to incorporate some of the concepts in those chapters into your style sheet. When you come to class on Wednesday, you should have two completed HTML files (one that includes an image) and a single CSS file that controls the visual design of both HTML pages. In addition, please make sure you can log in to your Reclaim Hosting control panel (if you can’t, submit a support ticket) and download FileZilla onto your personal computer before class. [Update: When you get to class, download our CSS workshop files.]

Remember, as you work your way through the textbook, you should be practicing, not just reading, the material. If you have fallen behind, please take some time this weekend to catch up. If you’ve been diligent with your homework and you’re still feeling lost, please come see me during office hours (Tuesday 1-4 or Wednesday 9-12). Oh, and if you find resources online that help you understand new concepts or make progress on your Unit #1 project, don’t forget to share them with your classmates on Twitter by using the class hashtag: #engl4814.

Week 2: HTML and CSS Basics; Résumé Workshop

Thanks for your contributions to a great first class session! We didn’t have time to cover a lot of ground on Day 1, but things will definitely pick up during Week 2.

Next week, we will begin our tour of the basics of HTML and CSS, using the Online Business Card and Résumé project to learn some of web design’s foundational concepts. Here’s how we’ll spend our time in class each day:

  • On Monday, we will review the basic elements of HTML and apply them to your résumés. Before you come to class, please read Chapters 4 and 5 in Learning Web Design, completing the exercises throughout these chapters as you go. (For those of you who already know HTML, this will go quickly. If you are new to HTML, please give yourself plenty of time to work through the exercises.) In addition, please bring an electronic copy of your current résumé to class (MS Word or PDF format is fine).
  • On Wednesday, we will learn how to alter the visual appearance of your résumés using cascading style sheets (CSS). Before you come to class, please read Chapters 11 and 12 in Learning Web Design and complete the exercises throughout these chapters. (A word of warning: this marks the point at which the textbook begins to get a little more complicated, so you’ll need to spend enough time with each chapter to really understand the new concepts before you come to class each day.) If you haven’t finished converting your résumé into HTML format, please do so before class, and be sure to bring that HTML file to class. Last but not least, you should select a domain name (Domainr can help you see what’s available) and register it through Reclaim Hosting. (If you already have your own domain, please let me know.) You don’t need to do anything with your new site yet — we’ll work on that in class.

By the end of Week 2, you should have a fully marked-up résumé and the makings of a well-styled résumé. If you’re doing all the reading and paying attention in class but still feeling lost, I recommend watching the tutorial videos titled “HTML Essential Training” on Lynda.com. If you need additional help beyond that, please come see me during office hours. The material in this class will only get more complex as the semester progresses, so if things aren’t clicking for you, now is the time to address the problem.

In order to complete your homework, you should download and install one of the following programs on your own computer:

  • Komodo Edit (Available for Mac, Windows, and Linux — this is what we will use in the computer lab.)
  • TextWrangler (Mac only — my personal favorite.)
  • Notepad++ (Windows only — highly recommended by my former students who are Windows users.)

If you have any questions about our plans for next week, please send me an email or contact me on Twitter. Otherwise, I’ll see you in class on Monday!

Welcome to Developing Online Content!

Welcome to ENGL 4814: Developing Online Content. This website will function as the online headquarters for our class this semester. Each week, I will post an update to the website with details about coming week, deadline reminders, links to helpful resources, etc… I will use Virginia Tech’s Scholar site to record your grades, but otherwise, everything related to this course will be posted here. You should bookmark this site on your laptop, your tablet, your phone, etc. — whatever you use to get online.

A bit about me: This is my second year at Virginia Tech, and I love it here. My research focuses on how people use rhetoric in online environments, and all of the classes I teach have something to do with technology. I have been building websites since 1999, and I do some web consulting for small businesses and nonprofit groups that need help getting (or getting up to date) online. When I’m not staring at a computer screen, I love to cook, read, and spend time with my wife, a brilliant freelance writer, and our two daughters.

Each week (typically no later than Thursday evening), I will add a post to this website that previews what we will be doing in class the following week and reminds you what you need to do to prepare for those class sessions. The Week 2 post will be up soon, but for now, here are a few things you can do to get a jump start on the semester: