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In another recent thread, someone commented (I'll probably get this wrong)
that his solution for figuring out a solution was to find someone else who'd
already figured it out and save hours of redundant research. Sounds like a
good justification for training to me.
I think Eric Dunn made a good point reminding us that not all tech writers
are in the computer industry. But a number of computer-related topics would
be pretty darned valuable to the new graduate with student loans looming.
Online help is probably the most important, and I would also agree that
HTML/web design is way up there (although not necessarily in NotePad). A
good program might offer these courses as electives along with non-computer
related classes, allowing the student to choose their focus. The medical
and legal fields might benefit from a specialized class, as would marketing
My TC certificate program handled the tool issue by telling students what
tools are important in the field and in some cases requiring use of a
certain tool, although not spending any time teaching the tool. I
discovered WinHelp because one of my teachers talked about it incessantly--I
chose to learn it on my own, and it was the main reason I got my first job.
In another class on page design and layout, we had to produce a final paper
I also think editing is essential--with an emphasis on substantive
I haven't seen anyone mention project planning and management. This was a
very valuable class for me.
Another general course would be in presentations/training/public speaking.
I'm less skilled at expressing myself verbally, and this can hurt me when I
talk with SMEs.
I sure wish there was a way to simulate the experience of documented a
half-built, un-spec'd program with an interface that doesn't exist yet.
Which reminds me. A class or a section on the process of software
development, what to expect, and how to fit in the documentation would come
in really handy.
Sella Rush mailto:sellar -at- apptechsys -dot- com
Applied Technical Systems (ATS)
Developers of the CCM Database