For this assignment, you will examine some software system you're familiar with from a variety of perspectives: introducing new users to the system, proposing changes to the system, and promoting the changed system to its users.
Imagine, for example, that you are in charge of the Gmail for UCI Rollout . You will have to instruct new users, both students and faculty, on how to use Gmail. You might write an introductory document, explaining the basics of electronic mail and the kinds of operations one might expect to perform (creating and sending messages, receiving a message, printing it, saving it, and so on); later in that document, or in another document, you might give a tutorial providing the details of carrying out those operations (the specific commands to use), perhaps with a set of examples the reader would follow. You might also give an oral introduction to "Gmail" to groups of new users.
In addition, you might think that "Gmail" could be improved in various ways (such as a new graphical user interface or additional features). Probably you would have to convince someone (your boss, or a committee in charge of deciding what software enhancements are most important) that these changes would be worth implementing. You would make your case both in a written memo and in an oral presentation.
For this assignment, you will choose some software that you're familiar with and do each of these things. As you develop each of these different documents (and their corresponding oral presentations), focus on how the audience for each document is different - they have different experience, different needs, and so on, which means that how you write for each will be different, too.
|1. Intro|| Email 10/4 |
|Our class, who may know something about the software (depending on your choice) and who may have suggestions about the changes you propose||Informal "elevator speech"|
|2. Tutorial|| Draft 10/27 |
|Novices, unfamiliar with the software, who need to learn its purpose and basic functionality||Friendly yet professional|
|3. Pitch|| Draft 11/1 |
|Decision makers, who know about the software but must be convinced of the need to change (and the feasibility and advisability of the changes you propose)||Correct and professional, addressing corporate higher-ups|
|4. Final Presentation|| Draft 11/12 |
|You may choose to present either your Tutorial or Pitch.||Tutorial or Pitch|
First, you must decide what system you will use for this assignment. Your system may be conventional application software; it may also be a web site with significantly complex navigation or interaction. By the Email Due Date, you must send an email to the TA including (1) The name of the system, (2) a one to two sentence description of the system, and (3) a one to two sentence sketch of the proposed change. Based on the TA's feedback, you will give a one- to two-minute oral presentation of this information to the class on the Oral Due Date.
You will write an introduction to the system for novice users, of three to four pages. This document should give a high-level description of the system and its capabilities, describing what tasks the system will perform and giving the necessary background. It should not get into the tedious minor details of which keys to press or which menu items to choose; the "Writing Instructions" project covers that kind of writing, and those details would extend this assignment far beyond four pages in any case. The draft and final versions are due on the given dates. You will also give the class a three-minute oral version of this introduction on the given date.
You will write a proposal for changing this system, of five to six pages plus a brief single-page cover letter . Address this proposal to whatever decision-making authority is appropriate for your software: perhaps the company that publishes it, perhaps an individual or committee in your own organization. Try to find out the actual name of the actual person or group who actually has the authority to make the changes you suggest, and write your proposal with that person or group in mind. Your goal should be to produce a proposal you can actually send.A draft of your proposal is due for joint editing in class on the Draft Due Date; a revision based on the joint editing (including your editor's comments) is due on Revision Due Date. The final written version of your proposal is due on the Final Due Date.
Reread the instructions for submissions and follow them closely!
Each part of this assignment shares the same underlying subject matter. What's different in each part is the intended audience (and thus what knowledge you assume, what you cover explicitly, and the level of formality). Novice users have different needs and a different set of assumptions than decision-makers,
Choose software that you know something about, and more importantly, that you care about. The best writing (and the easiest for the writer) is writing where the writer has experience with the topic and really cares about getting it across to the reader. So choose something that matters to you.
We encourage your effective use of graphics, though graphics may not reduce your prose page count below the minimum.
To the extent applicable, you should state your sources of information in your written proposal, backing up whatever facts and figures you used. This need not be gathered all together at the end as a formal bibliography;it is better to mention the name of the source at the point where you use its information in the body of the paper. If your word processor supports automatic footnotes, use them, but do not waste time trying to include footnotes manually—an in-line citation is fine. Citations should provide enough detail to allow the reader to find the cited work and follow up on the information and all the citations in a document should follow a consistent format, but the precise format you use is not crucial for this assignment.
There's a big difference between spoken and written language. For the oral portions of this assignment, do not simply read from a script. Of course you will use notes, but speak naturally rather than reading a "canned" speech. On the other hand, the presentations are relatively formal in tone; joking banter and slang are not appropriate.
You will have an opportunity to give your classmates written feedback on their presentations; you will receive some credit towards class participation for each presentation you comment on
We will be happy to advise you on any aspect of your proposal. We're a valuable resource; take advantage of our assistance.