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1. (CHUM 100) Processing Words

Note that the description and specifics of this course are drafts only, and wil be revised after consultation. Please send comments to Michael Best.

Possible Calendar entry:

The effectiveness and limitations of word processing programs, outliners, spell checkers, grammar checkers, built-in dictionaries and thesaurae. An introduction to desktop publishing. The concept of "processing": the way a computer can clarify and enhance the processes inherent in good writing and presentation; writing as a process. An introduction to research on the way that use of word processing influences the nature of writing.

Course content and objectives:


Submission of

  1. An outline of a topic selected by the student in consultation with an assistant.
  2. A full report or essay on the given topic
  3. A paragraph critiquing the word processor's analysis of grammar.
  4. Questionnaire(s) to test the reading of the additional materials on "wider issues


Although word processing is now taken for granted in the preparation of student essays, few students in the Humanities are aware of the extent or power of the additional tools any standard word processor offers--except, no doubt for that often false friend, the spell checker. In a recent questionnaire submitted by 52 of my students, I discovered that not a single student realized that their word processor includes an outliner, and none was aware of the usefulness of style sheets in both organization and presentation. It is as if they are driving a powerful car in first gear only.

This module is the most basic of the four, and will provide a comfortable initial experience for students who may be somewhat intimidated by computers. At the same time it will give students a basic knowledge of principles of design in layout--a knowledge that will be eminently saleable when they are looking for jobs--and in the use of presentation software.

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