John Trumbull. The Declaration of Independence (1795)

In Documentation Process and Content Management (ETWR 2477), you team-write chapters for simple tasks for a project-management application and take the documentation project from competitive proposal straight through to completion, moving through important phases such as initial proposal, team building, documentation plan, scheduling, prototypes, style notes, drafts, edits, revisions, and finished deliverables.

Your teams will divide into typical roles such as coordinator, writers, editors, and graphics specialists, although each team member regardless of role will write a chapter on a simple tasks for the application. Although your team is welcome to use whatever application you wish to schedule and track your project (typically an Excel spreadsheet), your documentation of simple project management tasks will show you a typical way projects are set up and managed. To develop your project collaboratively, please use a CMS like Google Docs.

The links have been removed from this schedule; check back start of spring semester.

Instructor David McMurrey
Class meetings Online-only class
Office & hours NRG 4225 Tues/Thurs 10:00-3:00 p.m.
Phone 223-4804

Week of May 28

Getting organized. In this first week, read about the schedule, policies, objectives, and requirements for this course (using links in the gray panel to the left and up). I'll ask you to fill out the online questionnaire below (your information will be kept confidential), write a brief get-acquainted memo that will be posted on our course website so we can all get know each other (it will also be password-protected), and fill out the skills, talents, preferences profiler so we can know how to set up teams!

Creating a blog with WordPress. You'll create a blog, open only to members of our class, in which you introduce yourself to the rest of us and summarize what you read about management of documentation projects.

Getting to know you. We'll fill out a profile questionnaire to get a sense of the group's strengths, experience, aptitudes, and preferences. We'll divide into one or two teams depending on your preferences. As instructor, I will act as subject matter expert for the project management application and as upper-level management to resolve disputes.

Activities Watch and listen to the recorded overview of this course. Note: There may have been some changes to the plan since I made this recording.

Fill out the questionnaire. Your information will be kept confidential.

Learn how to create blogs in the WordPress guide, create your own, and post it so the rest of the class can see it.

Write your get-acquainted memo in your WordPress blog. Be sure and post it so that the rest of us can see it.

Start a timesheet to record your activities in this course and the amount of time you spend on them.
due June 3

Reading Hackos. JoAnn Hackos's Information Development (2007) focuses on the process of developing information from a management perspective. Ideally, you would have read this book before this course began so that you could apply its principles. Sigh. While some of the chapters may match up with what you are doing or will do, with the rest perhaps you can say, "Oh well, we could have done it that way." The same in the case with Hackos's Content Management (2002).

Because few of us could read 1,000 pages in under 11 weeks, we'll divide the readings, summarize themi, and comment on each other's summaries. Keep in mind that you will be the expert on your chapters and may be asked for help on the details.

As you can see below, the chapters are grouped into nice 100-page sets. Use the randomizing program at the link below to find out what you'll read.

Readings Info. Development, chs. 1, 2 (info. development, process model—76 pgs.)
Info. Development, chs. 3, 5 (portfolio mgmt, technology adoption—32 pgs.)

Info. Development, chs. 6, 7 (users, user scenarios—44 pgs.)
Info. Development, chs. 10, 11, 12 (teams, leadership—70 pgs.)

Info. Development, chs. 13, 14 (innovation, proj. mgmt.—38 pgs.)
Info. Development, chs. 15, 16 (starting, planning projs.—62 pgs.)

Info. Development, chs. 17, 18 (implementing, tracking projects—66 pgs.)
Info. Development, chs. 19, 20 (project change, collaboration—46 pgs.)

Content Management, ch. 1 (content management—45 pgs.)
Content Management, ch. 2 (solutions—51 pgs.)

Content Management, ch. 3 (information resources—19 pgs.)
Content Management, ch. 4 (information model—35 pgs.)
Content Management, ch. 5 (content types—35 pgs.)

Content Management, ch. 6 (using content types—13 pgs.)
Content Management, ch. 7 (content plans—43 pgs.)
Content Management, ch. 9 (single sourcing—17 pgs.)
Info. Development, ch. 24 (project evaluation—14 pgs.)

Content Management, ch. 8 (content plans (dynamic)—26 pgs.)
Content Management, ch. 10 (reuse—20 pgs.)
Info. Development, ch. 21 (quality assurance, production—42 pgs.)
Summaries Click this chapter-assigner link to find out which chapters you will be responsible for summarizing. (I encourage you to read as many of the Hackos chapters as you can.)

Click this chapter-assignments link to view who's reading what.

Note: For the blog, you'll get 65% for the summaries, 25% for the comments, 10% for your self-introduction; I'll evaluate your timesheet at the end of the semester.
due June 17
Week of June 4

Use this week to complete your readings, summaries, and comments on others' summaries. I will evaluate your work on this unit according to the quality of your summary and the quality of your comments on all other summaries.

Week of June 11

Developing team spirit. With the number of people we have in this course, we can break up into either or one or two teams. Use class e-mail to ask questions and voice your opinion, and then click Quick survey: fill out to indicate your preference.

Activities Fill out the profiler to indicate your skills, talents, and preferences in relation to this project.

View profiles skills, talents, and preferences of people in this course.

Read about team roles.
due June 17

Team blog setup. Create a blog for your team at WordPress. Have some fun—give your team a name (The Mighty Eggplants?) Create "pages" at your blog in which you describe team roles, due dates, and procedures to use for project problems (such as slackers, incompetents, ego conflicts).

Activities Read about team structure and roles.

Decide on which people will play which roles in your team project, and post that information on your team blog: team structure.

Decide on which people will play which roles in your team project and how conflicts will be resolved.

Post this information on your team blog. I will be looking particularly at your team decisions on how to handle problems such as over-sized egos, dropouts, slow pokes, incompetents, and other such. You're welcome to use me as upper-level management arbitrator.

At end of semester, I will review your team blog for team-member information, task owners and dates, style notes, team rules, and the post mortem summary.
due June 17

Week of June 18

Content management. Traditionally, project material is developed as separate "documents" (user guides, online helps, quick-start guides, product white papers, promotional materials, reference manuals, and so on). However, in content management systems, information is divided into resusable "topics." This approach cuts down on the necessity of rewriting the same material for different contexts and enables assembling the topics in different ways for different contexts. This is out of the scope for this course, but be aware of it.

PM Project. Read about the project and then use the task-assigner link below to find out which task you will be determining.

Activities Read about the project.

Task for this project are listed at Project Management 2477.

Note: Contact me if your tasks are impossible, too large, or too small or should combined with some other. Use me as thye subject-matter expert who can answer technical questions.

Task assignments Click this task-assigner link to find out which tasks you will be responsible for documenting.

Click this task-assignments link to view who's writing about which tasks.
due June 24

Project estimating. To get ready to write the project proposal, you will need to know how to estimate how many hours, people, and resources it will require.

Activities With your team members, study the project source to get acquainted with the project.

Read about project estimating

Send me your project estimate in whichever format you prefer.
June 27

Information-project proposal. Your job right now is to write a proposal that convinces your potential client that your team has the best plan for the project, has the best credentials, and projects the best financials—or, well, the best balance thereof.

Activities Post your notes on your project on your team blog page using the Pages function.

Read about and create your team's information-development project proposal

Send your proposal to me by e-mail attachment.
July 1

Week of June 25

Project tracking. Now that your team has won the contract to do the documentation project with that terrific proposal you wrote, it's time to do some serious project planning. And that means having a system to track your project. Big, complex projects involving lots of people typically require some tracking mechanism to show team members what's due when, who's doing what, and which project details have changed.

Activities Read notes for on creating a project-tracking system.

Send your project-tracking system to management (that's me!) by e-mail using whichever format works for you.
July 8

Week of July 2

Information-development plan. One of the first items scheduled in your project plan should be the information-development plan (also known as the documentation plan), which records your team's decisions about items in the documentation library, media to be used by those items, and other elements such as schedules and responsibilities.

Activities Read about information-development plans

See the options relating to the information-development plan for this course.

Send your information-development plan to me by e-mail attachment.
July 22

Week of July 9

Style notes, templates, and prototypes. Ideally, your team would set up a style guide, templates, and a prototype. Actually, you need a template to enable everyone to produce material that is formatted the same way. If you were working in something like word, that would be a .dt file. In FrameMaker, it would be a simple .fm file. In HTML, it would a CSS file.

A prototype could be generated using the template. A prototype include a representative of every section in your document (title page, TOC, chapter, topic, menus, etc.) A prototype include an example of every type of text (such as headings, bulleted and numbered lists, notes, page number, edition noticde, index entry). The prototype would use dummy text like that available at Lorem ipsum.

Activities Read about style notes, templates, and prototypes

Minimally, post notes in your team blog as to things like fonts, margins, colors. You'll be shocked at how many things you did not think of. In this post also indicate the software tools you'll use and whether you finished project will be a PDF, website, or help.
July 22

Week of July 16

Formatting and editing. During this next period of the course, your team formats the information according to your plans, and someone on your team watches editorially for inconsistencies and other problems.

Activities Complete the first-draft formatting of your project, and send it by e-mail attachment. August 5

Week of July 23

Formatting and editing — continued.

Week of July 30

Editing complete and final drafts

Activities Edits should be complete and revisions incorporated. Final drafts should be ready. August 15

Content management. If we had a good content management system, we would crop in all our information and experiment outputting it to web pages, PDF, and help. We would also experiment with taking different parts of our information and outputting them as well. This latter is known as "database publishing," which is implemented by Author-it.

Activities Some kind of recorded demo will be available. August 15

Week of August 6

Post mortem. When your team has completed the project, get together in some way to discuss how things went, what went wrong, what could have been better, what went right, and appoint a team member to post a summary of your meeting to your team blog in the Pages area. (This includes a post mortem on this course: how things went, what went wrong, what could have been better, what went right.)

Activities Read about project post mortems
Write and post a project post mortem. Send e-mail when this is available.
August 15