|Dr. Eric Sonstroem
Sonstroem Office: WPC 137 Phone: 946-2619
Sonstroem Office Hours: M, W 1:00 - 2:30, and by Appointment.
This semester's student
blogs can be found right here!
You might also be interested in some sample
blogs from past runs of this class.
Content Engineering is a professional writing class that has been designed from the ground up with the awareness that electronic content is dynamic, searchable, measurable, researched, optimized, published, marketed, and monetized in ways that are radically different from static "writing."
Catalog Course Description: Content Engineering is a professional writing class this is designed from the ground up with awareness that electronic content is dynamic, searchable, measurable, researched, optimized, published, marketed, and monetized in ways that are radically different from static "writing." Students create websites on a topic of professional interest that they've researched for market viability. Students create content for their sites, place ads on the sites, and use the sites as Content Engineering laboratories. We experiment with different techniques to drive live traffic to the sites, and we learn tools of web analytics and search engine optimization. Students will also learn the underlying fundamentals of goal-oriented user-centric writing. Prerequisite: Junior Standing.
Students will learn how to:
Create professional, reader-centric / user-centric documents, in both print and electronic media.
Understand the basic protocols of professional communication, and research the specific communication expectations of their chosen career. Create a resume and cover letter appropriate for their chosen career.
Create unique and relevant content, which is targeted toward a specific audience.
Research, analyze, and understand trends in search and social media, and recognize how this relates to market segmentation.
Determine conversion goals for the content they create, and measure and assess the effectiveness of their content against these conversion goals. Learn how to apply the results of their assessment, by refining their content creation strategies or re-engineering their old content.
Develop a habit of analytical thinking about their writing. Understand that all the content they create is fundamentally goal-oriented and measurable.
Identify, assess, and use up-to-date tools of content creation, publication, and analysis. This includes high-level applications like current blogging platforms, as well as some understanding of how to work directly with HTML and CSS.
Acquire some proficiency with industry-standard tools of web analytics, specifically Google Analytics. Understand the differences between different types of web traffic.
Understand the basics of how search engines index content, and become acquainted with best practices and current tools of Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
Gain first-hand experience in how content is marketed on the web, both through traditional web marketing as well as social media marketing.
Gain first-hand experience with how content is monetized on the web. By the end of the course, students will be receiving money from Google Adsense from the traffic they have generated to their content.
To this end, students will create a blog on a topic of professional interest to them, a topic they have research for market viability. Students will create a lot of content for these blogs, then use them as Content Engineering laboratories, experimenting with different techniques to drive real live traffic to their sites, and convert this traffic in different ways.
Be aware that this course is a lot of work, both in terms of the amount of writing you will do, and in terms of the new concepts, techniques, and tools that you will be exposed to. The payoff, however, is that this set of skills is extremely practical, and very much in demand in the modern workplace.
There is no textbook for this class. All your
readings will be found within the Resources section of our Canvas
page, or on the web.
Student work in this course might be retained for research purposes and to assess how course learning outcomes are being met.
You will be
responsible for showing up. Attendance
required, and the attendance policy is very much like what you will
find in the workplace. You may miss three "personal days" for
(and I don't need to know the reason). After that, your final
grade will drop 1/3 of a letter grade for each additional day
missed. If you have a valid, documented reason for needing to
miss more classes (eg, a valid medical reason) talk to me about that early
in the course so that we can work out an alternate assignment for those
days. Just like in the business world, chronic or extreme
will also not be
tolerated, and may count as absences as well. The same
applies to failure to participate in classroom discussion or
other texting devices) are
absolutely not permitted in class and must be off. Also, you
may not use your computer in class, unless we are doing a
activity that specifically requires them.
You will be
responsible for carefully reading all
assigned readings. There will
be periodic, unannounced reading quizzes throughout
the semester. You
might be responsible for printing out some of these readings and bringing
them to class.
You will be responsible for actively participating in classroom discussions and activites. Active classroom participation will help you engage with the material, as well as learn and retain the skills of this class. Active engagement with co-workers and with your supervisor is crucial to success in the business world. Therefore, active engagement with me and with your peers in class is a part of your grade.
You will be responsible for turning in assignments when they are due. As in the business world, deadlines matter, and nobody wants to hear your excuses. Late papers will be marked down 1/3 of a letter grade for each calendar day they are late. I will consider giving short extensions on assignments if you contact me ahead of the due date and you have a good reason for wanting the extension. All assigned work must be completed to pass the course.
Written work will almost always be submitted to me electronically. Documents must conform to document specifications in the assignments. Any hard-copy assignments should be printed on white paper, in a standard 12-point font, with one inch margins. All assignments should contain my name, your name, the course number, the date, and a title.
You should have access to a computer and printer. You will notice that there is a web page for the class, at http://www.sonstroem.com/106/. You will be required to access this webpage throughout the semester, for readings, assignments and other material. Many readings will be found on our Canvas site. Computer access is therefore vital to the class.
A large part of
the work for this class
will consist of the publication and promotion of a blog or other
You need to be aware of this going into the class, and comfortable with
the notion that you will be publishing your work on the web.
Please refer to your Student Handbook (Tiger Lore) for a complete statement of the University Honor Code, an essential element in the academic integrity of our campus community. If I believe you to be in violation of the University Honor Code I will refer the matter to the Office of Student Life. Penalties for violating the Honor Code can include suspension from the University. In other words, if you plagiarize in this class, I will probably catch you, and you will probably end up in serious trouble.
Plagiarism is the attempt to pass off someone else's text or ideas as your own. If you copy or paraphrase from any outside source, even another student, and fail to formally acknowledge this in your text, you are guilty of plagiarism. If someone else writes a paper for you, or even part of a paper for you, you are guilty of plagiarism. If you are found guilty of plagiarism, you will receive an F for the assignment, an F for the course, and a letter will be sent to your dean. A student who is found violating the academic honesty policy (i.e.: cheating or knowingly plagiarizing) in a course will be prevented from dropping the course even if the deadline to drop has not expired. There are no exceptions.
Students with Disabilities:
If you are a student with a disability who requires accommodations, please contact the Director of the Office of Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) for information on how to obtain an Accommodations Request Letter.
3-Step Accommodation Process
1. Student meets with the SSD Director and provides documentation and completes registration forms.
2. Student requests accommodation(s) each semester by completing the Request for Accommodations Form.
3. Student arranges to meet with his/her professors to discuss the accommodation(s) and to sign the Accommodation Request Letter
To ensure timeliness of services, it is preferable that you obtain the accommodation letter(s) from the Office of SSD as early as possible in each term. After the instructor receives the accommodation letter, please schedule a meeting with the instructor during office hours or some other mutually convenient time to arrange the accommodation(s). The Office of Services for Students with Disabilities is located in the McCaffrey Center, Rm. 137. Phone: 209-946-3221. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Online: www.pacific.edu/disabilities
Participation and In-Class Exercises
|Case 1, 2,
|Blog (Proposal, Blog,
|A = exceptional work, mastery
||B = good, excelling in some areas and deficient
||C = fairly competent
||D = barely passing, minimal competence
||F = failing
Copies of student work may be retained to assess how the learning objectives of the course are being met.
As you can see, this schedule is still a work in progress. There are 2 reasons for this:
1) This is an upper-level English class at Pacific. That means that you, the student, are encouraged more than ever to help shape the direction and form of the class. Student suggestions for additional topics, readings, assignments and/or changes to the course are strongly encouraged.
2) This is a class in a subject area that is changing rapidly. I will make changes to the schedule, as new technologies and tools develop and emerge, and to help focus the class themes over the course of the semester. I guarantee that I will swap out readings (especially in the second half of the class) as new sources become available.
All readings are available through the Canvas site or online.
Begins: January 15 -- Introduction to Content Engineering / Basic
Professional Writing Concepts
|W||In-Class: Welcome. Introduction to the class.|
"Introduction to Workplace
Communication" on Canvas
In-Class: Discussion of the Range of Methods of Workplace Communication
Begins: January 22 -- Blog Topic Research. Thinking in
Keywords. Researching search trends, using Alexa.
"Effective Document Design" and "Ten Ways to Make Your Documents Shout
'Read Me!'"on Canvas
In-Class: Document Design Discussion/Workshop
Tips for Beginner Bloggers, Google's Guidelines for Bloggers, and read
around on Blogger
Google's official blog about blogging. (all on the web; just
click the links)
Tool: Use Google Trends to see what the trends are on people searching for your topic, where they are from, what categories they are interested in, how this has changed over time, etc. Search for (and study) other blogs and websites about your proposed topic. How can this help you choose your topic, focus your topic, target a specific audience?
In-Class: One-on-one meetings RE Blog Topics
Blog Topic Proposal Draft
Due: Blog Topic Proposal Rough Draft
Begins: January 29 -- Understanding Web Traffic / Best Practices
for Web Content / Lab -- Getting your blog online!
|M||Tools: Alexa, Follow, Quantcast, SimilarWeb. To see what
other websites are in your niche, what their audience consists of, etc.
Due: Blog Topic Proposal Final Draft
Google's Guides For Producing Relevant Content: Google-Friendly
Sites, Webmaster Guidelines, Why Is Content Critical to Ad Targeting? (all on the web;
just click the links)
Reading: Other Prespectives on Producing Relevant Content: Essential Ingredients, and How to Write Search Engine Friendly Blog Articles
Video: How To Create A Blog on Blogger
In-Class: Setting up you blog. Creating your first blog post. (IF YOU HAVE A LAPTOP, PLEASE BRING IT TO CLASS)
"Workplace Correspondence" on Canvas
In-Class: Memo Exercise. More hands-on work on your blog. (IF YOU HAVE A LAPTOP, PLEASE BRING IT TO CLASS)
Begins: February 5 -- Business Writing: Writing Reports / Doing
research in a business context
Sample Report" on Canvas
In-Class: Discussion, Recommendation Reports
"Principles of Research" on Canvas
In-Class: Case 1 Draft Workshop.
Due: Case 1 Rough Draft
Rice University's Designing
Effective Oral Presentations on Canvas
In-Class: Strategies for Oral Communication
Due: Case 1 Final Draft
Begins: February 12 -- Oral Presentations
based off of interviews with working professionals in your chosen
Due: Oral Report 1
Review of Oral Report 1
Language of Advertising" and
David Ogilvy, "How to Write Potent Ad Copy," both on Canvas
In-Class: Review of Oral Report 1
Begins: February 19 -- Advertising. Social Media
Marketing. Install and begin
using Google Analytics.
|M||No Class. President's Day.
Reading: Setting up your Google Analytics Account, Connecting your Blogger Account to Google Analytics, and A Beginner's Guide to the Google Search Console
In-Class: (IF YOU HAVE A LAPTOP, PLEASE BRING IT TO CLASS)
Workshop Topics Include: Installing and using Google Analytics and Google Search Console, Designing and managing links, Thinking about Funnels and Goals
|F||Reading: The Absolute Beginner's Guide to Google Analytics and Understanding Google Analytics
In-Class: More work with Google Analytics
Begins: February 26 -- Social Media Marketing Tools, Campaigns,
In-Class: Advertising & Content Campaign Analysis
Class: Bring your laptop to class today if you have one.
In-Class: Strategies for Social Media Marketing Tools Overview - Intro to Social Media Analytics.
In-Class: Analysis of ads.
In-Class: Paid Advertising on Social Media (Google Adwords & Facebook Advertising) - CPC vs CPM - Strategies for Effective Social Media Engagement - A/B Testing with Promoted Campaigns
Due: Case 2 Final Draft
Begins: March 5 -- Paper due
|M||Reading: A Guide to the Facebook Newsfeed Algorithm, What is Content Marketing?
In-Class: Facebook Edgerank and Social Media Algorithms - A/B Testing with Social Media Campaigns
workshop for Paper 1
Students Review their Social Media Analytics and Reports - Develop
Social Media Campaigns Based on Data, Insights, and Analytics
Due: Paper 1
Begins: March 19 -- Job Hunting
Resume and Cover Letter Reading on Canvas
In-Class: Resume Workshop Note: You are required to bring something with you to this workshop. Read the assignment.
Cover Letter Peer Workshop
Due: Resume and Cover Letter Draft
Using LinkedIn, etc.
In-Class: Installing Google Adsense (IF YOU HAVE A LAPTOP, PLEASE BRING IT TO CLASS) "How To"
Due: Resume and Cover Letter Assignment Final Draft
Begins: March 26 -- SEO / Driving Web Traffic / Split Tests. Adsense installed on
websites by this week.
|M||Reading: Google's How Search Works. "Understanding Search Engine Marketing" and "Essential Search Engine Optimization", both on Canvas
In-Class: SEO Basics. (IF YOU HAVE A LAPTOP, PLEASE BRING IT TO CLASS)
|W||Reading: SEO and Digital Trends 2017, "How to Get Your Startup", on Canvas
Optional Reading: "Google Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide" and "Understanding Search Engine Optimization", both on Canvas
In-Class: Driving Web Traffic. (IF YOU HAVE A LAPTOP, PLEASE BRING IT TO CLASS)
|F||Reading: "How to Build a Strong A/B Testing Plan" on Canvas
Optional but Recommended: Learn how to do a Chi Squared test. Try this, or this, or this.
In-Class: Show and Tell
|Week: 11 Begins: April 2
-- New Economies of Digital Content.
|M||Reading: from Jenkins, Ford, and Greene, Spreadable Media on Canvas
|W||Reading: from Shirky, Cognitive Surplus, and from Shirkey Here Comes Everybody, both on Canvas
|F||Reading: Wong, "Five Reasons the Future will be Ruled by B.S.", Graeber, "On the Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs", and "What It's Like to Write for Content Farms"
Begins: April 9 -- New Consequences of Digital Content.
|M||Reading: from Byrne, How Music Works on Canvas, Gerard, "Culture is not about Aesthetics. Punk rock is now enforced by law", Masnick, "No, The Internet Hasn't Destroyed Quality Music"|
|W||Reading: Kirn, "If You're Not Paranoid, You're Crazy."
|F||Viewing: Cory Doctorow, "The Coming War on General Purpose Computing"
In-Class: Powerpoint Workshop
Due: Case 3 Final Draft
Begins: April 16 -- Student Presentations
Final Project Reports:.
Final Project Reports:
Final Project Reports:
|Week: 14 Begins: April 23 -- Student Presentations|
Final Project Reports:
Final Project Reports:
Final Project Reports:
|Week: 15 Begins: April 30 -- Student Presentations|
Final Project Reports:
|F||Final Reports Due|