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Course Outlines

COMM 1009

Technical Writing: Definitions, Instructions and Process Descriptions

School School of Computing and Academic Studies
Program Technical Writing Certificate
Course Credits 3
Minimum Passing Grade 50%
Start Date September 15, 2021
End Date December 01, 2021
Total Hours 36
Total Weeks 12
Hours/Weeks 3
Delivery Type Other
Pre-requisites Students must have one of the following: 1) English 12 "67%" (C+) or equivalent (refer to BCIT's Admission page); or 2) COMM 0015 score of 70 or better.
CRN 33979

Acknowledgement of Territories

The British Columbia Institute of Technology acknowledges that our campuses are located on the unceded traditional territories of the Coast Salish Nations of Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), səl̓ilwətaɁɬ (Tsleil-Waututh), and xwməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam).

Instructor Details

Name Matthew Rockall
E-mail Instructor to provide
Location SE corner of my house.
Office Hours Instructor to provide

Course Description

This course introduces students to three types of technical writing found singly or in combination in most, if not all, technical documentation: definitions, instructions and process descriptions. NOTE: Students do not need to submit transcripts for entrance to this course. BUT, in the case of formal or informal grade appeals or reviews they will be asked to show proof of their English requirements. Students who wish to confirm their English level are strongly advised to take COMM 0015.

Course Learning Outcomes/Competencies

Upon successful completion of this course, the student will be able to:

  • Use management strategies to organize and categorize information.
  • Use graphics in different types of technical documentation.
  • Use appropriate diction and tone for technical documentation based on audience assessment.
  • Use a word processing software revision tool to engage in a remote peer-revision process cycle.
  • Write and use formal, operational and expanded definitions.
  • Write process descriptions and procedures for different discourse communities.
  • Communicate collaboratively as an effective member of a team while preparing written group projects.
  • Conduct audience, user, task and topic analyses to support effective documentation.
  • Remotely engage in a text-based online discussion forum with team-members to develop product documentation projects.

Learning Resources

Technical Communication Today, Johnson-Sheehan, Richard

E-Book - 6th Edition

See BCIT Bookstore online for details. This is the core text for the Tech Writer Certificate courses 1007, 1008, 1009.

Evaluation Criteria

Criteria % Comments
Individual written assignment15Definitions
Team project20Targeted Travel Guide
Mid-term test20Timed, online activity
Revision Cycle10Will engage in telecommunicated peer revision cycle using MS Word Track Changes and Comments; D2L to be used for the file exchange.
Final exam30Exam must be written in class at the time and date scheduled, except in cases of documented medical emergency.
Participation5Constributing to classwide discussions of good and bad technical documentation and other elevant topics.

Attendance Requirements

Participation is important for the four synchronous virtual classroom sessions, which will take place during weeks 1, 2, 5, and 9. The remaining sessions are asynchronous and task-based, meaning attendance at specific times is not required but there will be specific individual and team activities. Please engage regularly in team and classwide discussions.

Course Specific Requirements

In this course we will be using modern net-meeting technologies. You will need video, audio, and sufficient badnwidth access to fully participate. In addition, you need to be able to produce written work in .docx and .pdf formats. In short, you probably need a proper desktop or laptop with a functioning camera, microphone, a good internet connection, and MS Office.

Course Schedule and Assignments

WeekMaterial Covered Readings ActivitiesAssignment Due Date
1Virtual class: Course Introduction: Policies, assignments, overview of content, introduction to quality standards for technical documents, and getting to know one another. 1 – Technical Communication in the Entrepreneurial Workplace

Favourite word icebreaker, uncommon meanings for common words

Ten sentence writing exercise to be submitted to D2L drop-box by week 2

Assignment 1: Definitions (15%)

Week 3

2Virtual class: Information Design and Definitions 1: Organizing information and designing readable manuals, understanding audiences and how they use technical manuals.

What definitions are, why write them, where to use them. An overview of the types of definitions and a focus on formal and operational definitions. Guidelines for writing glossaries.

Using D2L

2 – Profiling Your Readers

7 – Microgenre: Technical Definitions

Definitions activity, audience assessment

Introduction of team assignment and team formation

Assignment 2: Team Project (20%)

Week 9 (Final Draft)


Online: Definitions 2: Writing and formatting expanded definitions; using graphics and other format elements in expanded definitions.

Telecommuting and outsourcing

4 – Working in Teams

17– Designing Documents and Interfaces

Development of team project charter and online communication strategy

Assignment 1 due, submitted to D2L dropbox

4Online: Process Descriptions 1: What are they, why write them, where to use them. An overview of the types of process descriptions.

15 - Organizing and Drafting

Team Project: needs assessment and project management plan

5Virtual class: Process Descriptions 2: Organizing and writing process description information.

7- Technical Descriptions and Specifications

Process descriptions activity

Team project outline

Mid-term exam prep

6Online: Mid-term Exam

All assigned readings are relevant.

Mid-term Exam (20%)

Online: Instructions 1: What are they, why write them, where to use them. An overview of the types of instructions. Doing task analysis in preparation for writing instructions.

12 - Designing Visuals

16 - Using Plain and Persuasive Style

18 – Creating and Using Graphics

Team Project:draft completion, revisions


Online: Instructions 2: Writing and procedures cont.

8 - Instructions and Documentation

Discussion of distance learning/ telecommunication experience. Instructions activity, revision

Team Project 1st draft due: D2L submission


Virtual class: Instructions 3: Revising procedures, tutorials

Appendix: Grammar and Style at Work

Revisions using Track Changes and Comments

Team Project final draft due in dropbox.

Assignment 3 (10%): Revision

Week 11


Online: Grammar and revision

19 - Revising and Edition for UsabilityRevision/grammar activities

Online: Course review and final exam prep

Assignment 3 due; submit all versions to D2L dropbox.

12Online: Final ExamAll assigned readings are relevant.Final Exam (30%)

BCIT Policy

Any student who needs special assistance in the event of a medical emergency or building evacuation (either because of a disability or for any other reason) should promptly inform their course instructor(s) and Accessibility Services of their personal circumstances.

Human Rights, Harassment and Discrimination:
The BCIT community is made up of individuals from every ability, background, experience and identity, each contributing uniquely to the richness and diversity of the BCIT community as a whole. In recognition of this, and the intrinsic value of our diversity, BCIT seeks to foster a climate of collaboration, understanding and mutual respect between all members of the community and ensure an inclusive accessible working and learning environment where everyone can succeed.

Respect, Diversity, and Inclusion is a supportive resource for both students and employees of BCIT, to foster a respectful learning and working environment. Any student who feels that they are experiencing discrimination or harassment (personal or human rights-related) can confidentially access this resource for advice and support. Please see Policy 7507 – Harassment and Discrimination and accompanying procedure.

Students should make themselves aware of additional Education, Administration, Safety and other BCIT policies listed at

Guidelines for School of Computing and Academic Studies

Students must successfully complete a course within a maximum of three (3) attempts at the course. Students with two attempts in a single course will be allowed to repeat the course only upon special written permission from the Associate Dean. Students who have not successfully completed a course within three attempts will not be eligible to graduate from their respective program.


I verify that the content of this course outline is current.
Matthew Rockall, Instructor
September 05, 2021

I verify that this course outline has been reviewed.
Shannon Kelly, FSA Markers
September 06, 2021

I verify that this course outline has been reviewed and complies with BCIT policy.
Patricia Sackville, Associate Dean
September 06, 2021

Note: Should changes be required to the content of this course outline, students will be given reasonable notice.