Writing and Publishing in Digital Environments, Spring 2019

From Gerald R. Lucas
21482 NMAC 5801.01 Online Spring, 2019

NMAC 5108 expands the definition of writing through the theory and practice of digital writing. It examines the ongoing evolution of writing and publishing in digital environments and its impact on personal, professional, and community-based projects. It prepares graduate students to analyze and solve design problems related to rhetorical delivery and content management in digital and online contexts. Individual and collaborative projects will require students to work flexibly across various digital platforms.

This particular section of NMAC 5108 will concentrate on writing and publishing on Wikipedia and emphasize the best practices for that platform.


Audio course introduction.

Welcome to NMAC 5108, Writing and Publishing in Digital Environments. The document you’re reading is your syllabus. Everything you need for this class is on this page or linked off of it. Bookmark it now and return here if you get lost or confused.

Please read this document and those it links to carefully at the beginning of the semester. There is much information to process, and it can be somewhat daunting — especially if you read cursorily. If you are confused, do your best to work through it by (re)reading this document carefully and completely, searching this site, or consulting the FAQ. I promise, there is an answer to your question. If all else fails, you may contact me. Trust yourself to follow directions and find the answers. Be careful and deliberate.

For a head start on how to approach all work in this course, see “How to Do Well in My Class” and “Research & Response.”

Since you are graduate students, I expect that you are all veteran users of new media. I’m assuming, since you’re taking this course, that you are comfortable with working by yourself and have a basic Internet fluency. Much of what we do in this course will involve using digital media, but also challenging our conventional uses and attitudes toward them. Please enter with an open mind. NMAC 5108 is also designed to let you — the students — discover and create your own knowledge using the powerful digital devices we all have access to. You will learn more about my approach shortly. If you’re curious to know more right now, you might want to read my teaching philosophy and peruse the articles under HackEdu.

Again, read this syllabus through carefully before beginning. You might want to take notes as you go, jotting down questions you have. I bet they are answered by the time you’re ready to begin the first lesson. If you end up still having questions, post them in the help forum when you’ve made your Wikipedia account.

Course Information

NMAC 5108: Writing and Publishing in Digital Environments
Description NMAC 5108 expands the definition of writing through the theory and practice of digital writing. It examines the evolution of writing and publishing in digital environments and its impact on personal, professional, and community-based projects. It prepares graduate students to analyze and solve design problems related to rhetorical delivery and content management in digital and online contexts. Individual and collaborative projects require students to work flexibly across various digital platforms.
Prerequisite Meet Graduate Certificate Admissions Requirements or Permission of Graduate Program Coordinator.
Credit Hours 3 credits.

Writing and Publishing in Digital Environments supports the Graduate Certificate in Technical Writing and Digital Communication Program at Middle Georgia State University. Before attempting this course — especially if you've never taken one fully online — you might consider the implications.

Instructor Information

Gerald R. Lucas
Office CoAS-117 (Macon campus), Department of Media, Culture & the Arts
Office Hours See Contact
Email gerald.lucas [at] mga [dot] edu

I try to make myself as available as much as possible during the first couple weeks of a semester, including evenings and weekends. If you need to chat with me, email me and we’ll arrange a video conference via Skype (or similar service), if necessary. Please do not expect a response after 5pm on weekdays or anytime during the weekend. I may be available, but I also need some down time. Thanks for your understanding.

Student Learning Outcomes

  • Develop rhetorically appropriate writing, organization, and design skills for publishing in electronic environments;
  • Apply best-use writing conventions in differing digital environments; and
  • Practice collaboration as an integral practice for publishing in electronic environments.



Required Texts

  • Carroll, Brian (2017). Writing and Editing for Digital Media (3rd ed.). New York: Routledge.
  • Various Links and PDFs.[1]



Assignments leading to writing a new article from scratch or making significant contributions to one or more Wikipedia articles — work equivalent to a graduate-level research paper. This requirement is the major emphasis of the course, and one your should work on regularly and consistently throughout the semester.

Spring 2019: Project Mailer » AAD Expanded
This semester, we will be working on a project on Project Mailer centered around Norman Mailer’s 1965 novel An American Dream. I have a box of artifacts, including letters, reviews, essays, clippings, and other miscellany, that we will organize, digitize, and use to construct a logical and unified Digital Humanities project. I recommend that we meet at least once to discuss our plan and review the materials. I’ve begun outlining the project over on Project Mailer »


A daily process journal will help you document your progress in the class at the same time allowing you to practice your writing regularly. Your journal will be housed on Wikipedia and also assist in community building.

Student Journals


Regular class attendance and active participation in classroom discussion are required. Some assignments will occasionally count for participation: online discussions, training, exercises, library tasks, short writing responses, reading quizzes, peer editing, the viewing of a film, and similar activities. Your participation in group activities and your preparation for class will be weighed heavily in evaluation: participation, effort, and attitude will count significantly. You should not sit in class like you’re watching TV: learning requires active participation and enthusiasm (see Student Behavior).


Students are held accountable for knowing and practicing each of the following course policies. Consider them like the law: the excuse “I didn’t know” will carry no weight. In addition, students are responsible for reading, understanding, and adhering to all Middle Georgia State University student policies, including those linked on the Syllabus Policy page.[2]

Drop Date
April 5, 2019

Students may withdraw from the course and earn a grade of “W” up to and including the midterm date. After midterm, students who withdraw will receive a grade of “WF.” Students are encouraged to read the withdrawal policy before dropping/withdrawing from class.

Assignments and Deadlines

Your work represents you. Everything you turn in for evaluation should exemplify the very best of your professional self. Late work is unacceptable and will receive a zero. Technical problems do not excuse late work. Plan ahead and turn in your work on time. Last-minute work submissions are ineligible for revision for a higher grade.


Attendance for online courses is based on consistent participation. While students may work within lessons at their own pace, there will be assignments and milestones due regularly, usually each week. In other words: students are required to submit work each week to remain in good-standing. I recommend working a bit every day for consistency and to facilitate learning. Any registered student who does not submit work the first week will be counted as a no-show. Large gaps in participation (more than a week of not working) will be grounds for failure.


Communication is integral to success, no matter what we’re talking about. In a digital world, these literacies are particularly important. Not only should you develop and perfect your communication skills while in college, you need to use those skills everyday with your peers and professors.


Evaluation depends on overall student performance: depending on the successful completion of all requirements, participation, and attitude. Some requirements are weighed heavier in evaluation, but all are essential to successfully complete the class. Letter grades are based upon a traditional ten-point scale. Grades for this class will be based on the point system.


Willful or accidental plagiarism will result in automatic failure of this class (with a grade of an “F”) and will be pursued to incite the utmost penalty for such dishonesty. Academic falsehood, in any form, will constitute class failure.


All writing in this course should be supported with both primary (readings I assign you) and secondary (sources you find yourself) texts. All suppositions must be supported with evidence, whether they appear on a forum post, a blog post, a Wikipedia article, or class discussion. In other words: research is an integral component of everything you do in this course. Any ideas that are not supported might as well not be written.

Technology Requirements

All students should have a newish computer with dependable Internet access. A tablet for reading PDFs is convenient, but not a requirement of the course. Students should check the course site daily for updates. Students are responsible for working out all of their technical difficulties.



This schedule represents the ideal outline for our study this semester. Yet, like all best-laid plans, we may not be able to keep up with our agenda. Please be flexible and try to look and read ahead whenever possible. We will do our best to stick by this schedule, but I will inform you verbally whenever there is a change in or an addition to an assignment. Getting these updates is solely your responsibility. Therefore, this schedule is tentative and subject to change contingent upon the needs of the students and the professor, and dictated by time and other constraints which may affect the course. This schedule reflects only an overview of the assigned reading and other major course assignments. It may not indicate specific class session assignments or activities. Specific assignments are often given in class.

1 03/06–03/10 Introduction At the end of this lesson, everyone should have a Wikipedia account, a journal, and get the basics of editing Wikipedia and writing for the screen.[3]
2 03/11–03/17 Evaluate Wikipedia This week, Carroll discusses strategies for writing and editing, and training addresses evaluating Wikipedia articles and making your first edits.
3 03/18–03/24 Spring Break No Class
4 03/25–03/31 Topics and Sources Understanding the importance of establishing and maintaining credibility and supporting your work.
5 04/01–04/07 Draft, Review, Evaluate This week, everyone should have chosen a topic on PM and begun writing and editing AAD Expanded.
6 04/08–04/14 Make It Real Consider your colleagues’ edits so far on PM and write peer reviews. Respond to your own reviews and revise.[17]
7 04/15–04/21 Revise Now's the time to revisit your text and refine your work. You may do more research and find missing information; rewrite the lead section to represent all major points; reorganize the text to communicate the information better; or add images and other media. Be sure everyone has taken a similar approach and the project is beginning to look cohesive.
8 04/22–04/24 Submit and Reflect It's the final week to develop your contributions. All project edits are complete and submitted. Final posts to your journals.


  1. Mostly on the Wiki Education site.
  2. See the MGA website's Syllabus Policy Page the policies linked thereon.
  3. You might want to take some time and go through “Contributing to Wikipedia,” especially if you are entirely new to editing on the platform. I also have written a wiki primer “Writing on a Wiki” that could also be of assistance.
  4. You might want to have a read-through of Setting up your account and personal workspace before just jumping to account creation.
  5. Carroll supplies questions and exercises at the end of his chapters; these could be good fodder for journal posts.
  6. For discussions, see “Academic Forum Posts” and follow the guidelines for talk page discussions. This is done essentially like your comments and responses on your journals.
  7. Use “Evaluate an Article” as a guide for evaluation.
  8. We will be rewriting this entry — see week 4. You may want to begin now. More source documents are available in our shared Google Drive.
  9. See the outline of the project assignment on PM for instructions on accessing the shared drive.
  10. See more about this process on the March 14 update.
  11. This will be due on week 6; see below. To begin working on it, you should post it to your sandbox on PM.
  12. Read through these articles for the information they contain. Remember that your project will involve adding to AAD Expanded and not choosing an article on Wikipedia.
  13. You also might claim your part of the project on the to-do list.
  14. Add [[Category:Student Editors]] at the bottom of your User page. You are welcome to add a photo, too, if you’d like.
  15. Everyone should help, i.e., edit and add to the entry.
  16. You should be working on this regularly for this point on if you have not already. Do not wait until the last minute. 🙂
  17. Read more on the announcements page.
  18. You probably have some feedback from other students and possibly other Wikipedians. Consider their suggestions, decide whether it makes your work more accurate and complete, and edit your draft to make those changes.
  19. Again, some of these might have little to do with your PM work, but glean any pertinent information that you can from them.