> INFO 390/ENGL 380, Spring 2009
> University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
> professor Spencer Schaffner, office 260 EB, office hours MWF @ 3:00
> mon/wed/fri @ 1-1:50, Room 304, English Building
> banana lovers

This course, listed through the Department of English and Illinois Informatics Institute, explores the rhetorical and cultural significance of new writing forms in this, our digital age. The written word still matters, but writing online is increasingly visual and enmeshed in a range of media forms. Learning to create interesting content for the web allows one to contact a global audience.

Students in this course will study what it means to write online. The work in the class will consist of a sequence of digital online projects, all coded in simple html, css, and javascript. No previous coding experience or practice creating web sites is needed. Experienced coders and web writers will be able to work at an accelerated pace.


→ for students to become thoughtful creators of web content
→ for students to understand the informatics of online writing
→ for students to think critically about electronic media in daily life

Course Materials

All readings are available online as electronic documents. Please bring copies (either electronic or in paper form) of articles that we read to class for discussion.

Bring an external hard drive or usb drive to every class. You will use it a lot.

How the Course Works

This class is designed on the principle of project-based learning. This means that problems and projects will structure most of what we do. Figuring out each project, making it, and then sharing the project with other students in the course will be at the heart of this class. Readings and class discussion are meant to supplement and clarify the projects.

We'll go over the tutorials in class on Mondays. Projects will be due every two weeks (usually on a Friday).

Your projects will ultimately be assembled and revised into an online portfolio. 80% of your grade for the course will be based on this final web portfolio. (The other 20% is class participation.) Creating the final online portfolio should not be taken lightly. Instead of merely forcing all of your projects into a single site, you will need to seamlessly combine and revise your projects into a consistent design with a thoughtful information architecture. We'll talk more about this as the class progresses.


Grades will be determined at the end of the semester. Midterm progress grades will be given out (via email) on or around March 7th. Each project will be given feedback but not a grade; this is to encourage revision up until the end of the semester.

Grades will be based on the following:

→ in-class participation, including workshops and group work (20%)
→ final portfolio of work (80%)

The participation grade will be based on things such as arriving on time, attending class, completing the readings, and actively participating in the course. The final portfolio grade will be based on meeting or exceeding the stated expectations in the project descriptions. (More about grades can be found on the course policies page.)