Course Information


  • Number: ENGL 460
  • Title: Digital Authoring Practices
  • Term: Fall 2021
  • Meeting: MWF 9:10-10:00, LAAH 503


  • Name: Andrew Pilsch
  • Contact:
  • Office Hours & Locations:
    • MF 10:00-11:30, Zoom

Course Description

Analysis and practice of authoring in digital environments, including individual and collaborative approaches, audience concerns, theoretical, ethical and stylistic issues; environments and topics may include web design, content management system (CMS), text encoding, project management, usability, version tracking, content authoring and accessibility.

Course Learning Outcomes

In this course, students can expect:

  1. To learn about digital writing technologies
  2. To develop rhetorical strategies unique to digital environments
  3. To formulate good questions about technical issues


You are tasked with completing the following units of work in this course:

  1. 10 Lab Reports (Due Each Monday)
  2. 10 Big Questions (Due Each Sunday)
  3. Project Proposal
  4. Project Artifact
  5. Project Reflection

Assignment Descriptions

Lab Reports

Each week, on Wednesday, you have a lab exercise. This will be a particular set of tasks derived from the week’s discussion topic. The week following the exercise, you will be asked to submit a report of what you did, what you learned, what challenges you faced, and how or if you overcame them. Additionally, you will submit the artifact you were asked to create.

The report should be between 2 and 3 pages of double-spaced, Times New Roman 12pt, writing. The report itself will need to be written in MS Word format (.docx or .doc) or in Markdown (.md), once we’ve learned about that.

You are not required to complete all lab reports to earn an “A” in this course, however, it is strongly recommended you at least attempt all 10 labs.

Big Questions

At the start of each week (by Sunday night), you will be asked to submit a big question to help guide our weekly discussion. These will be based on the reading. What aspects did you not understand? What do you wish to know more about? What was unclear? Does something you read relate to another class or topic of interest?

These questions, to be considered “satisfactory,” must be generative of discussion and somewhat open-ended. “Why” and “how” questions are particularly good. For more on writing good discussion questions, click here

Each big question needs to be posted to Slack.


The major task of this class will be to create some form of digital text that responds to something we have done in class. This is intended to be open-ended and student-drive, so I want you to be as creative as you feel comfortable.

You will be required to generate a proposal for your project in addition to creating the artifact itself.

You may work on this project in groups as large as three, or you may complete the project individually.

The project reflection does need to be completed individually.

Project Proposal

This portion of the project may be done in groups

For the first part of the project, you or your group will generate a project proposal. This document will briefly outline what you plan to make and include any relevant items such as wireframes, rough draft language, mood boards, or other tools you have created to support your vision for the project.

Additionally, you will deliver a very short, very informal (do not stress about this, please) presentation on the day the proposal is due to inform your classmates of what you are doing and to solicit any feedback

To start the project, you working individually or as part of a group will generate a project proposal. This will be an informal outline of your plan, including what you intend to make and how you intend to make it. The proposal should include wireframes, mood boards, and any technical and logistical issues you expect to encounter.

At a minimum, the proposal requires:

  1. A 2-3 paragraph description of what you are making
  2. A bulleted, detailed schedule of the work, including when things need to be finished by
  3. At least one visual element, including
    • Example websites
    • Animated GIFs
    • Hand drawn mock-ups

This proposal can be a narrated video, a static website, or a collection of links. Post your proposal to Slack before class on Friday, November 19th (so by 8AM on Friday).

During class time on Friday (or over the weekend), you will read each of your classmates proposals and offer commentary in the following form:

  1. Ask a question about the project.
  2. Offer what you think is the biggest strength of the project.
  3. Offer what you think is the biggest weakness of the project.

Post these reflections in a comment on each proposal post in Slack.

Project Artifact

This portion of the project may be done in groups

This is the thing in question. It might be a website. It might be a Twitter bot. It might be something entirely other. Your task is to respond to the model of digital writing we have been constructing.

Project Reflection

This portion of the project must be completed individually

Reflect on what you did for the project. Analyze the work done and comment on strengths and weaknesses. What would you have done differently? What worked well?

If this was a group project, also tell me how the workload was shared and how the team worked.


This course will utilize a labor-based model of grading. In place of the traditional grade model, where you produce some arbitrary unit of knowledge and I evaluate it with an equally meaningless number from 1-100, your grade will be determined based on the labor-based rubric below.

When items are submitted, I will read over them and declare the work to be “satisfactory,” meeting the standards of the class, or “unsatisfactory,” which is work that is deficient in some capacity. In the event of the latter, I will provide you with detailed feedback about how to transform the work into a “satisfactory” product. You will email the revised product to me within two weeks of receiving your initial evaluation. If you revise the product incorporating my feedback, the work will be “satisfactory”; if not, the work will be “unsatisfactory” in perpetuity.

Work must be submitted by the indicated due date to be considered satisfactory. The only exception will be in the event of excused absences. Revisions will be accepted up to two weeks after the initial evaluation is posted to Canvas.

A-level Work

  1. Complete at least 10 Satisfactory Lab Reports
  2. Complete at least 10 Satisfactory Reading Questions
  3. Complete a Satisfactory Proposal
  4. Complete a Satisfactory Project
  5. Complete a Satisfactory Reflection

B-level Work

  1. Complete at least 8 Satisfactory Lab Reports
  2. Complete at least 8 Satisfactory Reading Questions
  3. Complete a Satisfactory Object
  4. Complete Either a Satisfactory Proposal or Reflection

C-level Work

  1. Complete at least 6 Satisfactory Lab Reports
  2. Complete at least 6 Satisfactory Reading Questions
  3. Complete a Satisfactory Object

D & F Grades

These are grades are earned for unsuccessful completion of work in a systematic way, at the discretion of the professor. A “D” denotes some minimal attempt having been made, while an “F” is awarded in the absence of enough satisfactory work to justify passing the course.

Class Procedures


We will be using Slack to coordinate communication in class. There is a link to join our class workspace on Canvas. Please do this today!

FERPA Privacy Notice

The Family Educational Records and Privacy Act gives you a right to privacy in this class. In addition to governing where I can and cannot discuss grades and to whom I can disclose information about your class participation, FERPA also implies that I cannot force you to pubically disclose that you are a student in this class.

This means that if you choose to use your real name on your course blog and as your GitHub account name, you are waiving that portion of your FERPA rights and disclosing that you are a member of this class. If you would prefer to post using an alias or a handle (I’m oncomouse on most platforms, for instance) for the public facing portions of this assignment, you are protecting your right to privacy and are more than welcome to do so.

However, if you use an alias, please email it to me so I know who you are.


Week 1

Mon 08/30

  • Syllabus Overview

Wed 09/01

Fri 09/03

Week 2

Mon 09/06

  • Read: “What is The Digital?”
  • Read: Nicholas Negroponte, “The DNA of Information” (on Canvas)
  • Big Question Due Sunday Night
  • Lab Report Due

Wed 09/08

Fri 09/10

  • Lab Wrap-Up: How’d We Do?

Week 3

Mon 09/13

Wed 09/15

Fri 09/17

  • Lab Wrap-Up: How’d We Do?

Week 4

Mon 09/20

Wed 09/22

Fri 09/24

  • Lab Wrap-Up: How’d We Do?

Week 5

Mon 09/27

Wed 09/29

Fri 10/01

  • Lab Wrap-Up: How’d We Do?

Week 6

Wed 10/06

Fri 10/08

  • Lab Wrap-Up: How’d We Do?

Week 7

Mon 10/11

Wed 10/13

Fri 10/15

  • Lab Wrap-Up: How’d We Do?

Week 8

Mon 10/18

Wed 10/20

Fri 10/22

  • Lab Wrap-Up: How’d We Do?

Week 9

Mon 10/25

Wed 10/27

Fri 10/29

  • Lab Wrap-Up: How’d We Do?

Week 10

Mon 11/01

Wed 11/03

Fri 11/05

  • Lab Wrap-Up: How’d We Do?

Week 11

Mon 11/08

Wed 11/10

Fri 11/12

  • Lab Wrap-Up: How’d We Do?

Week 12

Mon 11/15

  • Brainstorming: “What Makes a Good Final Project?”

Wed 11/17

  • Work on Your Project Proposals

Fri 11/19

  • Pitch Presentations
  • Project Proposal Due at 11:59PM

Week 13

Mon 11/22

  • Work On Your Projects

Wed 11/24

No Class

Reading Day

Fri 11/26

No Class


Week 14

Mon 11/29

  • Work On Your Projects

Wed 12/01

  • Work On Your Projects

Fri 12/03

  • Work On Your Projects

Week 15

Mon 12/06

  • Work On Your Projects
  • Project Artifact Due at 11:59PM
  • **Project Reflection Due at 11:59PM

Course Policies

Email Hours

I am available to answer email from 9:00am until 5:00pm Monday through Friday. Emails arriving outside of that time will be answered at my earliest convenience, but do not count on a quick answer to emails sent late at night or on the weekends.

Office Hours

All office hours are virtual. Do not, under any circumstances, come to my office.

University Policies

COVID-19 Statement

To help protect Aggieland and stop the spread of COVID-19, Texas A&M University urges students to be vaccinated and to wear masks in classrooms and all other academic facilities on campus, including labs. Doing so exemplifies the Aggie Core Values of respect, leadership, integrity, and selfless service by putting community concerns above individual preferences. COVID-19 vaccines and masking — regardless of vaccination status — have been shown to be safe and effective at reducing spread to others, infection, hospitalization, and death.

Attendance Policy

The university views class attendance and participation as an individual student responsibility. Students are expected to attend class and to complete all assignments.

Please refer to Student Rule 7 in its entirety for information about excused absences, including definitions, and related documentation and timelines.

Makeup Work Policy

Students will be excused from attending class on the day of a graded activity or when attendance contributes to a student’s grade, for the reasons stated in Student Rule 7, or other reason deemed appropriate by the instructor.

Please refer to Student Rule 7 in its entirety for information about makeup work, including definitions, and related documentation and timelines.

Absences related to Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 may necessitate a period of more than 30 days for make-up work, and the timeframe for make-up work should be agreed upon by the student and instructor” (Student Rule 7, Section 7.4.1).

“The instructor is under no obligation to provide an opportunity for the student to make up work missed because of an unexcused absence” (Student Rule 7, Section 7.4.2).

Students who request an excused absence are expected to uphold the Aggie Honor Code and Student Conduct Code. (See Student Rule 24.)

Course Policy on Makeup Work

Under Student Rule 7.4, I am under “under no obligation to provide an opportunity for the student to make up work missed because of an unexcused absence.” As such, no late work will be accepted this semester.

Academic Integrity Statement and Policy

“An Aggie does not lie, cheat or steal, or tolerate those who do.”

“Texas A&M University students are responsible for authenticating all work submitted to an instructor. If asked, students must be able to produce proof that the item submitted is indeed the work of that student. Students must keep appropriate records at all times. The inability to authenticate one’s work, should the instructor request it, may be sufficient grounds to initiate an academic misconduct case” (Section, Student Rule 20).

You can learn more about the Aggie Honor System Office Rules and Procedures, academic integrity, and your rights and responsibilities at

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Policy

Texas A&M University is committed to providing equitable access to learning opportunities for all students. If you experience barriers to your education due to a disability or think you may have a disability, please contact Disability Resources in the Student Services Building or at (979) 845-1637 or visit Disabilities may include, but are not limited to attentional, learning, mental health, sensory, physical, or chronic health conditions. All students are encouraged to discuss their disability related needs with Disability Resources and their instructors as soon as possible.

Title IX and Statement on Limits to Confidentiality

Texas A&M University is committed to fostering a learning environment that is safe and productive for all. University policies and federal and state laws prohibit gender-based discrimination and sexual harassment, including sexual assault, sexual exploitation, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking.

With the exception of some medical and mental health providers, all university employees (including full and part-time faculty, staff, paid graduate assistants, student workers, etc.) are Mandatory Reporters and must report to the Title IX Office if the employee experiences, observes, or becomes aware of an incident that meets the following conditions (see University Rule 08.01.01.M1):

  • The incident is reasonably believed to be discrimination or harassment.
  • The incident is alleged to have been committed by or against a person who, at the time of the incident, was (1) a student enrolled at the University or (2) an employee of the University.

Mandatory Reporters must file a report regardless of how the information comes to their attention – including but not limited to face-to-face conversations, a written class assignment or paper, class discussion, email, text, or social media post. Although Mandatory Reporters must file a report, in most instances, you will be able to control how the report is handled, including whether or not to pursue a formal investigation. The University’s goal is to make sure you are aware of the range of options available to you and to ensure access to the resources you need.

Students wishing to discuss concerns in a confidential setting are encouraged to make an appointment with Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS).

Students can learn more about filing a report, accessing supportive resources, and navigating the Title IX investigation and resolution process on the University’s Title IX webpage.

Statement on Mental Health and Wellness

Texas A&M University recognizes that mental health and wellness are critical factors that influence a student’s academic success and overall wellbeing. Students are encouraged to engage in proper self-care by utilizing the resources and services available from Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS). Students who need someone to talk to can call the TAMU Helpline (979-845-2700) from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 a.m. weekdays and 24 hours on weekends. 24-hour emergency help is also available through the National Suicide Prevention Hotline (800-273-8255) or at

Department Policies

University Writing Center

The mission of the University Writing Center (UWC) is to help you develop and refine the communication skills vital to success in college and beyond. You can choose to work with a trained UWC peer consultant in person or via web conference or email. Consultants can help with everything from lab reports to application essays and at any stage of your process, from brainstorming to reviewing the final draft. You can also get help with public speaking, presentations, and group projects. The UWC’s main location is on the second floor of Evans Library; there’s also a walk-in location on the second floor of the Business Library & Collaboration Commons. To schedule an appointment or view our helpful handouts and videos, visit Or call 979-458-1455.

Diversity Statement

It is my intent that students from all diverse backgrounds and perspectives be well-served by this course, that students’ learning needs be addressed both in and out of class, and that the diversity that students bring to this class be viewed as a resource, strength, and benefit. It is my intent to present materials and activities that are respectful of diversity: gender, sexual orientation, disability, age, religion, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, race, culture, perspective, and other background characteristics. I encourage your suggestions about how to improve the value of diversity in this course.