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The Instructions Assignment

The Basics

Create a Google Document that provides “how to” instructions for one of the following Google Drive related service:

  • Converting a PDF into an editable Google Document
  • Setting up offline access using Google Drive
  • Creating a basic Google Sites web page

Your clear, step-by-step instructions should include simple and direct text that are supplemented with images to illustrate how to complete the task.  Keep in mind an audience who speaks American English (e.g., not an International audience) who is familiar in a general way with the services Google provides but not the particular service that is the subject of your instructions.

After you finish a first draft of your instructions, you will complete a simple usability test with a user outside of our class. This user can be anyone– a family member, a friend, a roommate, etc., etc.– who fits as closely as possible into the audience for this assignment. Note carefully what your user does with your instructions. You will want to use this experience both to revise your instructions and to write about the experience in your final project memo.  (We will also have an in-class peer review/usability test that will help you think through revisions and that will be an opportunity for reflection in your memo).

When the assignment is due (see the schedule), you will post a link to your  instructions  and you will post a link to your writer’s memo about the project on emuonline. Be sure to describe the usability experience in your memo. As is the case with all of the assignments this term, make sure you do not commit any unacceptable errors.

Why I’m assigning this project:

Instructions are a useful genre to explore because it is common for professionals to write instructions and (of course) it’s also common for all of us to read and use instructions. Writing effective instructions depends on understanding the subject of the instructions of course, but it’s also key to know your audience and the purpose of the instructions. With this assignment, I’m also introducing some simple usability testing as a way of getting feedback from users outside of our class. Knowing the basics about usability is key for professional writers.

A Few More Details

  • The first thing you will need to do (besides choosing one of the three options) is figure out for yourself how to do the assigned task. I’m building some time in the calendar to do that, just ask.
  • Unlike the previous assignments, you can use software other than Google docs to create your instructions. One of the things that is a little more difficult to do with Google docs is layout of text and images, so if you want to use some other software to make your instructions, that’s fine. But if you do this, you need to hand in a PDF version of your instructions!
  • You might also want to see if instructions for any of these tasks exist elsewhere on the web.  It would be plagiarism if you just copied those instructions without giving them credit! But there’s nothing wrong with using a different set of instructions to help you in writing your own instructions.  If you do use other instructions to help with yours, be sure to give them credit in your writer’s memo.
  • Both your instructions and your memo must be free of unacceptable errors and all of the deadlines must be met.  Too many errors and/or lateness will hurt your grade.
2 Comments
  1. Natasha Wickenheiser permalink

    On the “Good Instructions” post, you gave slightly different options for our our project:

    “By next week, you’ll need to decide what you want to write instructions about: converting a PDF into an editable Google document; setting up offline access using Google Drive; or creating a Google form (which is what I use for the surveys, by the way).”

    Is it acceptable to write instructions for creating a Google form, rather than “a basic Google Sites web page,” which is listed as our third option on this assignment page?

    • Steve Krause permalink

      Actually, no– that was a mistake/typo on my part. I used to have the “create a google form” as one of the options, but that is actually a more complicated activity than the other three. So I’m sticking to what it says in the assignment:

      * Converting a PDF into an editable Google Document
      * Setting up offline access using Google Drive
      * Creating a basic Google Sites web page

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