WRA 210 Syllabus (Subject to Change)


Introduction to Web Authoring is a survey of the concepts and methodologies of web design. The course will introduce key concepts of web design and development as well as the software that facilitates it. No prior experience in web design is necessary, but you should be open to embracing new perspectives on the histories and current practices around technology that have been historically raced and gendered, thus highly exclusionary. This course requires technical practice with software as well as rhetorical awareness and conceptual discussions of the contexts and systems that those technologies are embedded in. This course is comprised of a series of exercises and projects beginning with basic HTML and increasing in complexity to include multiple page sites using CSS.

Learning to design for the web is not so much about learning complex programming as it is about engaging users, technologies, and the networks which link them together. As participants of a networked world, we need to understand the limitations and strengths of the web and the ways in which information must be modified for screen viewing. The objective of this course is to introduce you to these systems and to provide a supportive but critical environment for engaging them.


Students will:

  • be able to frame web authoring as a rhetorical practice and a vital professional skill
  • analyze digital works and communities to understand rhetorical, social, and cultural implications of emerging media environments
  • learn and practice the basic web authoring skills needed to put good design into practice
  • learn and practice principles of user-centered design
  • learn and practice the design genres crucial to building useful and usable websites
  • design and build a working version of their professional portfolios
  • be sufficiently prepared to advance to WRA 410 (Advanced Web Authoring)


  • Udemy Course: The Complete Web Developers Course 2.0 by Rob Percival
  • Udemy Course: CSS - The Complete Guide (incl. Flexbox, Grid, and Sass) by Acemind, Scharzmuller, and Lorenz
  • Access to a computer with reliable internet
  • File backup system, such as a cloud service, flash drive, external hard drive, etc.


Personal Course Site - Throughout the semester you will create and maintain a site that will serve as your home base for this course. Meaning, all of your modules and projects will be stored and linked on this site. The site must include at least one page designed for this course that includes links to coursework and other materials that are relevant to the class. You’ll use this site throughout the semester to collect and present all of the work you do for this course (particularly your modules) in one, easy-to-use view.

Modules - You will complete a series of 13 short exercises designed to introduce you to key concepts and to give hands-on practice with important tools and techniques throughout the semester. Your work for each module will be posted to your personal course site.

Professional Portfolio Project - Over the course of the semester, you will design, build, and then present to your peers a portfolio website. This may be a starting point for your professional portfolio, something that you can maintain throughout your degree. Or this may be an opportunity to rhetorically understand your portfolio content in relation to your potential portfolio users.

We will spend time researching the characteristics of effective professional portfolios, then develop initial designs that will be reviewed by your peers and then revised by you. You will then build a functional version of your design with HTML and CSS. Finally, you will present your portfolio to the class and write a reflection on your learning process and experience.

Your final grade for this project will be based on the functional HTML and CSS you produce, your awareness of accessibility and usability in your design choices, a reflection in which you discuss your work on the project, and a presentation of your professional portfolio to the class at the end of the semester.

Participation - To be successful in this class you must participate. In this course, you will learn by doing, by engaging with one another, and by asking questions. Workshops, small group problem solving, peer review, class discussion, doing your readings and homework, being attentive in class, asking questions, engaging your peers - these are the myriad ways to participate in this course. That said, what I mean by participation is active engagement in the community of our class.


  • Course Modules: 20% (200 points)
  • Design Documents: 15% (150 points)
  • Personal Course Site: 15% (150 points)
  • Final Portfolio: 40% (400 points)
  • Participation: 10% (100 points)

Total: 1000 points)


Attendance & Participation – Attendance is mandatory (even on workshop days). Per university policy, you are allowed 2 unexcused absences without penalty. Every absence beyond 2 deducts 50 points from your grade. I excuse absences with a doctor’s note, RCPD visa (see more in the Accessibility section), for conference presentations or other professional development opportunities, or via MSU’s Grief Absence Form.

If you must be absent, let me know. However, it is your responsibility to find out that day’s activities. Your first stop should the course schedule, where I will upload each day’s slides; your second stop is your peers. Additionally, don’t be late; it’s distracting. You must be on time to fully participate in this class. Every 2 late arrivals or early departures is equal to 1 absence.

Participation includes the completion of assignments outside of the modules, including Slack discussions and other tasks assigned in the schedule. I keep track of your completion of these on the grading rubric google document that I've shared with you (see the attendance/participation tab). Participation will be graded holistically based on a) the consistency with which you complete class activities, b) your level of engagement in these tasks and in group discussions, peer reviews, conferences, etc.

Community Accountability – In this class we will be reading, viewing, writing about, and discussing controversial topics. I expect you to treat one another and me with respect and maturity. There will certainly be disagreements among us as we come to this class with a wide range of experiences and histories. In this class we will honor our differences. I will absolutely not tolerate any form of racism, white supremacy, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, or body discrimination.

Work Submission – All coursework must be submitted via a link you send to me on Slack by the specific due date and time. This means your work should be uploaded into your Netfiles and linked on your personal course site. Late projects will be deducted 25 points for each day it is late (unless alternative arrangements have been made).

Communication – Outside the classroom you will primarily communicate with me on our Slack workspace - https://wra210spring2019.slack.com. For questions generally regarding the course, use the #questions channel in Slack and @ me. If you have a private concern (grading, absences, etc.) send me a direct message. If you have not received a response from me after 48 hours, please message me again. My office hours (280 Bessey) vary weekly, but will be posted before Monday morning of every week at the top of the schedule., or schedule a meeting. If you are ever unclear about an assignment, a policy, a task, please ask.

Accessibility – MSU is committed to providing equal opportunity for participation in all programs, services and activities. Requests for accommodations by persons with disabilities may be made by contacting the Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities at (517) 884-RCPD or on the web at rcpd.msu.edu. Once your eligibility for an accommodation has been determined, you will be issued a verified individual services accommodation (VISA) form. Please present this form to me at the start of the term and/or two weeks prior to the accommodation date (project, etc). Requests received after this date will be honored whenever possible.

MSU Engagement Centers – The Engagement Centers are unique spaces located in each neighborhood and serve as the main access points to important resources such as tutors, academic advisors, health practitioners, and other consultants that can help you navigate through your college career. Resources provided in the neighborhoods are organized into four key developmental areas: academic, health and wellness, intercultural, and residential. Website: http://nssc.msu.edu/

Mandatory Reporting of Abuse – Michigan State University is committed to fostering a culture of caring and respect that is free of relationship violence and sexual misconduct, and to ensuring that all affected individuals have access to services. For information on reporting options, confidential advocacy and support resources, university policies and procedures, or how to make a difference on campus, visit the Title IX website at titleix.msu.edu. Sexual assault survivors are encouraged to contact the Sexual Assault Program and/or MSU's Counseling & Psychiatric Services for confidential counseling and advocacy services.

Limits to Confidentiality – Materials submitted for this class are generally considered confidential pursuant to the University's student record policies. However, students should be aware that University employees, including instructors, may not be able to maintain confidentiality when it conflicts with their responsibility to report certain issues to protect the health and safety of MSU community members and others. As the instructor, I must report the following information to other University offices (including the Department of Police and Public Safety) if you share it with me:

  • Suspected child abuse/neglect, even if this maltreatment happened when you were a child;
  • Allegations of sexual assault, relationship violence, stalking, or sexual harassment; and
  • Credible threats of harm to oneself or to others.

These reports may trigger contact from a campus official who will want to talk with you about the incident that you have shared. In almost all cases, it will be your decision whether you wish to speak with that individual. If you would like to talk about these events in a more confidential setting, you are encouraged to make an appointment with the MSU Counseling & Psychiatric Services (caps.msu.edu).

Academic Honesty – I take academic honesty seriously. Plagiarism, of any sort, will not be accepted and/or tolerated in this class. Be advised: copying code, particularly as a programmer, is common practice. For the purpose of course assignments where you are asked to demonstrate your understanding of structure and syntax, you will be expected to compose your own and to document your work through comments.

If plagiarism is evident and/or suspected, I will pursue it in accordance with the WRAC Department Guidelines and University Policy. Michigan State University has adopted the following statement about academic honesty:

General Student Regulations 1.00 PROTECTION OF SCHOLARSHIP AND GRADES The principles of truth and honesty are fundamental to the educational process and the academic integrity of the University; therefore, no student shall:

1.01 claim or submit the academic work of another as one’s own. 1.02 procure, provide, accept or use any materials containing questions or answers to any examination or assignment without proper authorization. 1.03 complete or attempt to complete any assignment or examination for another individual without proper authorization. 1.04 allow any examination or assignment to be completed for oneself, in part or in total, by another without proper authorization. 1.05 alter, tamper with, appropriate, destroy or otherwise interfere with the research, resources, or other academic work of another person.

Procedures for responding to cases of academic honesty and possible repercussions are outlined in Spartan Life: Student Handbook and Resource Guide. They can also be found on the web at: msu.edu/unit/ombud/honestylinks.html. Note that the new procedures require instances of academic dishonesty be reported through the registrar’s office and forwarded to the Dean of the College in which the student’s major resides.

Updated January 9th, 2018