ENGL 6890: Studies in Writing and Rhetoric | Writing in and for Virtual Teams

This syllabus and all the materials under this domain are subject to change at my discretion. However, these documents do represent the general requirements and criteria for the course to the best of my knowledge at the time they are posted.


In order to successfully complete this course, you must participate in several key ways each week. By participate, I mean that you are contributing significantly to the content and environment of the course in throughtful, well-reasoned, and productive ways. You should approach each of your posts and assignments by asking yourself: "how does this enhance and support the class discussion of virtual teaming?" Because of this approach, I will expect your discussions to engage with the theories we read and discuss in class and you to apply those theories to specific situations in your workplaces, daily encounters with generic artifacts, and in your other studies. Posts that simply dismiss theoretical perspectives without significant reasoning and support will not count toward your participation grade.

I encourage you to do reading above and beyond the course texts and to bring your own administrative, industry, scholarly, and teacherly experiences to bear on our class discussions. I anticipate vigorous exchanges that will challenge each of us intellectually. Healthy disagreement on readings is not discouraged but lack of engagement or dismissal of one another's ideas is.

Along these lines, I expect you to adhere to this basic professional principle: treat others with the respect that you would wish them to grant you. "Others" includes the people you work for and with (classmates, instructors, corporations, clients); the people you write to (audiences); and the people you write about. Please strive to be supportive of one another and make this place a safe environment to conduct intellectual inquiry. If you feel as though you are being treated unfairly by a member of the class, please email privately and I will do my best to handle the situation.

research and readings

Recently, I learned that providing course readings in the form of .pdf articles via the course site hurts authors and journals that do not receive credit for our class' download and browsing activity. For this reason, I will not be making course readings available from this site unless they are not available online (e.g. book chapter, etc.). You should be prompted to enter your a-number and banner password when you access resources linked to in the course site. Instructions for accessing such resources are available here: http://libguides.usu.edu/database_links. If you have trouble locating a resource even after you have tried the EZ proxy link (http://dist.lib.usu.edu/login?url=), try locating the journal through the USU library's electronic journals list. If you are working on campus, you do not need to configure an EZ proxy link to access the library's resources.


Peer collaboration is encouraged in our course. You will be sharing your weekly discussion posts, bibliographic work, and annotations. These opportunities will allow you to further develop your presentation and editing skills.

Beyond this, you will be collaborating on your final project for the course. Everyone in collaborative groups will share the same grade unless documented circumstances indicate that a different arrangement is necessary. It is your responsibility to document any problems within your collaborative groups and to discuss these problems with me should they arise.

Each class member should respect the working style and efforts of others. For the betterment of all of us, foster collegial relationships and help strengthen one another's ideas and works.


Overall, you will be assessed on your contribution to the course; on your attentiveness to issues and trends in virtual teaming, collaboration, and technical communication; and on the thoroughness, complexity, and perceptiveness of your projects and your posts. The quality of your writing, style, tone, and formatting will also carry significant weight in the evaluation process.

I will discuss these assignments more fully under the benchmarks section of this site; however, here is a brief overview of each.

participation (300 pts. or 50 pts. per week)

Your participation grade will largely consist of your ability to demonstrate critical engagement with the content, ideas, and people in the course. Full points will be awarded to students:

wiki guide to virtual teams (300 pts.)

Throughout the 7-week course, I will be asking you to apply what we learn about virtual teams and collaborative technologies to a course wiki that I will set up at http://spaces.usu.edu. What I would like to do is write a guide or instruction set for working on virtual teams for submission to either Technical Communication or Intercom. Points will be earned for drafting sections of the article, for substantial revisions, and for bibliographic work.

technology review (400 pts.)

Your semester project will require you to work in teams in order to review a specific collaborative technology like Zotero, Google docs, Second Life, and social media software like Facebook or Twitter. You will choose a technology as a group and collaborate (ideally using that technology) to write the review.


All major assignments are due by midnight on the day listed on our course calendar or in this syllabus. In certain cases, I am willing to renegotiate due dates if you contact me at least 48 hours in advance. Failure to do so will result in a significant lowering of your final grade. Weekly due dates for discussion materials and position papers are made to facilitate greater discussion across the class. These must be adhered to. Incompletes grades will not be negotiated except in unforseen and extreme circumstances. These negotiations must take place at least one-week prior to the end of the course.

For the purposes of this course, the week begins at 8:00am each Monday and ends at midnight the following Sunday.

academic dishonesty and plagiarism

You are expected to do your own original work in this course. Whenever you borrow graphics, quote passages, or use ideas from others, you are legally and ethically obliged to acknowledge that use, following appropriate conventions for documenting sources. To borrow someone else’s writing without acknowledging that use is an act of academic as well as professional dishonesty, whether you borrow an entire report or a single sentence. An act of plagiarism will usually result in an E for the course and be reported to the proper university administrators. All USU students are responsible for upholding the Student Code of Academic Integrity, available in electronic format at: http://www.usu.edu/policies/PDF/Acad-Integrity.pdf

students with disabilities

Students who require reasonable accommodations in order to fully participate in the course should document the disability with the Disability Resource Center (435.797.2444) and contact me within the first week of the course. Any request for special consideration relating to attendance, pedagogy, taking of examinations, etc., must be discussed with and approved by me. In cooperation with the Disability Resource Center, course materials can be provided in alternative format, large print, audio, diskette, or Braille.


I will be available via email at rylish.moeller@usu.edu, via phone (435.797.8637) and Skype (r.lish.moeller) on Wednesdays between 10:00am-12:00pm (mountain time), via Skype by appointment, and via this course site most other times to answer any questions you may have. Please post any questions that are *not* of a personal nature to the course site in an accessible space (weekly discussion forums, housekeeping, bulletin board, etc.) to better disseminate information to the whole class. If you find that I have not posted a response to your question within 24 hours, please send me an email, letting me know where it is posted so that I can respond quickly.

You can follow me on Twitter @rylish. I will be tweeting for this course under the hashtag #virtualteaming.

I will do my best to read everything that is posted to the site; however, I will not be able to respond to every thread of discussion. If there is something that you feel warrants my response particularly, please send me an email, and I will make it a priority.