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English 313 Header Image


Instructor: Quinn Warnick
Office: 435 Ross Hall, 294-8609
Class hours: T/Th 2:10 – 3:30 p.m.
Class location: 137 Ross Hall
Office hours: T/Th 11:00 a.m – noon, 1:00 – 2:00 p.m., or by appointment.

Textbooks and Materials

English 313 Overview

The primary objective of this course is to teach you to build effective professional websites using standards compliant XHTML and CSS code. In addition, we will spend a significant amount of time writing, both for the web and about the web. Along the way, we will take a close look at the way writing on the web has changed in the last ten years, giving you the opportunity to decide what type of online identity you want to craft for yourself.

Although we will spend considerable time working with various software programs, this is not merely a “tools” or “skills” course; rather, the course is designed to engage you in a critical discussion about what it means to write and design in online environments, prompt you to consider how these environments are changing before our eyes, and prepare you to be an active participant in online communities.

English 313 Objectives

By the end of the semester, you should be able to:

  • create standards compliant websites for use in professional settings, using extensible hypertext markup language (XHTML) and cascading style sheets (CSS).
  • analyze specific audiences and rhetorical situations in online environments, and craft texts appropriate for these audiences and situations.
  • apply the principles of information architecture to the creation of intuitive navigation systems and a seamless user experience.
  • manipulate images, video, and other media for use on the web and effectively incorporate these elements into websites.
  • articulate the differences among various genres and formats of online writing, and successfully participate in a variety of online environments.

Class Attendance and Participation

Most of our class sessions will be conducted in a discussion/workshop format, and you are expected to contribute actively to our discussions and to interact courteously with your peers at all times. Many of our workshop activities cannot be “re-created” outside of class, so regular attendance is important. Because I do not differentiate between “excused” and “unexcused” absences (either you attended class or you did not), my attendance policy is simple: you may miss three classes (for any reason) without penalty. Each additional absence (for any reason) will lower your course grade by 1/3 of a letter grade (e.g., from C+ to C), and six or more absences will result in a failing grade for the course. Because our time in class is limited, promptness is important. Three tardies will be counted as one absence.

Software and Technology

Because this course focuses on writing in electronic environments, you will submit almost all of your work in electronic format and much of your interaction with your peers and your instructor will occur online. Hence, you will need to check your email regularly to receive important announcements and to participate in an ongoing dialogue with your classmates.

To create and test websites, we will be using a variety of software programs, including TextWrangler, Dreamweaver, Photoshop, and Silverback. Some of these programs are quite expensive, so I don’t expect you to purchase them at the beginning of the course. We will use 30-day trial licenses for some of these programs; if you find them useful after that point, you may want to invest in personal copies of the programs. However, you will not need to purchase any specialized software to fulfill the basic requirements of this course.

Our course will meet regularly in a computer lab, but you will not be able to complete all computer work in class, so you will either need your own computer or arrange to use one of the on-campus computer labs. Because every computer lab is configured differently, I strongly recommend finding a lab that has the software you need and using it consistently throughout the semester.

To fulfill the requirements of the course, you will need to create several accounts at a variety of websites. I am sensitive to the fact that some of you carefully guard your online identity and have chosen to minimize your personal exposure on the web, and I don’t want to force you to leave an electronic trail that may be difficult to erase at the end of the semester. As a result, you may choose to use a pseudonym and/or a “throwaway” email address to create these accounts. That’s fine with me; just be consistent (don’t choose a new pseudonym for each site) and make sure that you let me know what your pseudonym is.

Grading and Evaluation

Overview. Your grade in this course will be determined primarily by your performance on four major assignments and two tests. In addition, regular participation in class discussions, frequent contributions to the class website, and the success of your personal blog will influence your final grade. Major assignments will be penalized one letter grade (from B to C) for every class period they are late. All major assignments must be completed for you to receive a passing grade at the end of the semester. Shorter assignments will normally be worth 10 points, and all short assignments will be averaged together. Because these short assignments relate directly to the topic of discussion each day, they will receive no credit if they are turned in late.

Grading Scale. All major assignments will be evaluated using the following scale:

  • A : 94-100
  • A- : 90–93
  • B+ : 87–89
  • B : 84–86
  • B- : 80–83
  • C+ : 77–79
  • C : 74–76
  • C- : 70–73
  • D+ : 67– 69
  • D : 64–66
  • D- : 60-63
  • F : 0 – 59

Grading Criteria. All major assignments will be evaluated using the following criteria:

A — Superior Accomplishment. Shows excellent analysis of the assignment and provides an imaginative and original response. Successfully adapts to the audience, context, and purpose of the assignment. Contains no mechanical errors (i.e., the code “validates”) and requires no revisions. The assignment is ready to be presented to the intended audience.
B — Commendable. Shows judgment and tact in the presentation of material and responds appropriately to the requirements of the assignment. Has an interesting, precise, and clear style. Contains minor mechanical errors and requires revision before the assignment could be sent to the intended audience.
C — Competent. Meets all the basic criteria of the assignment, and provides a satisfactory response to the rhetorical situation. There is nothing remarkably good or bad about the work, and equivalent work could be sent out in the professional world following revisions to the organization, style, or delivery of the assignment.
D — Needs Improvement. Responds to the assignment, but contains significant defects in one of the major areas (context, substance, organization, style, or delivery). The assignment could not be presented to the intended audience without significant revision.
F — Unacceptable. Provides an inadequate response to the assignment or shows a misunderstanding of the rhetorical situation. Contains glaring defects in one or more of the major areas (context, substance, organization, style, or delivery). The assignment could not be presented to the intended audience.

Weighted Assignments. Major units and shorter assignments will be weighted as follows:

  • Short Assignments and Class Participation: 10%
  • Online Resume: 5%
  • CSS Zen Garden Redesign: 10%
  • Exam 1: 15%
  • Usability Report: 15%
  • Final Project Proposal: 10%
  • Exam 2: 15%
  • Final Website and Report: 20%
  • TOTAL: 100%

You can read more details about the major assignments on the assignments page.


Plagiarism is a serious legal and ethical breach, and it is treated as such by the university. I do not tolerate plagiarism in any form. If you are caught plagiarizing, you will receive an automatic 0 on the assignment. Depending on the severity of the plagiarism, you may also fail the entire course. In addition, I will report the incident to ISU’s Office of Judicial Affairs.

Plagiarism occurs when a writer, speaker, or designer deliberately uses someone else’s language, ideas, images, or other material without fully acknowledging its source by quotations marks, in footnotes or endnotes, and in lists of works cited. In this course, we will draw heavily upon text, code, audio, video, and other material online; the fact that such material is online does not lessen our obligation to give credit where credit is due.

All work you submit in this class is to be 100% your own work (in collaborative contexts, generated 100% by you and your teammates). As is true of all work done at the university, any secondary sources (articles, images, music, interviews, websites, or other electronic media—any content beyond a student’s own) must be cited. Some cultures allow un-cited borrowing; in American education, each student must cite every source used. For more information, please read ISU’s statement on academic dishonesty.

Occasionally students will unintentionally plagiarize material because they have failed to keep track of their sources as they acquire them and use them. In such cases, students claim they were unaware of university’s policies on academic dishonesty, feign ignorance concerning what constitutes plagiarism, or try to convince me that their motives were pure. I am not in a position to judge your intentions; as a result, I am obligated to report all cases of plagiarism (regardless of the circumstances) to the university. If you have any questions about plagiarism and how it relates to your work or the work of your team, please talk to me before you turn in an assignment. Once plagiarized work has been submitted for a grade, I have no choice but to enforce this policy.

Disability Accommodation

Please address any special needs or special accommodations with me at the beginning of the semester or as soon as you become aware of your needs. Those seeking accommodations based on disabilities should obtain a Student Academic Accommodation Request (SAAR) form from the Student Disability Resources office, located in the Student Services Building, Room 1076 (515-294-7220).