RE: The Real Offense

Subject: RE: The Real Offense
From: Kelly Parr <KParr -at- c-bridge -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L (E-mail)" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 13 Mar 2000 18:09:20 -0500

I may be joining this thread late, but I wanted to comment because I
recently got a Masters in Technical and Professional Writing.

I would say I am 50% pleased with my education. I *did* think it was going
to be different and initially tried getting into the one-year certification
program because the curriculum seemed more technical and current. Alas, it
was full and I went for the MTPW instead.

Obviously *any* master's degree program will be mired in theory. That's what
academia is all about. On the other hand, I wish different courses had been
offered for a better balance.

On the theory side, the classes were good because we had one excellent
professor with a PhD from RPI. Research methods and theory and practice
class was the best of the theory coursework. Ethics was extremely
interesting, but it didn't prepare me for technical writing in today's field
that way I *wanted* to be prepared. On the practice side of course work, the
pickins were slim.

The TW program had *ONE* full time professor (the one mentioned above); the
rest were contracted instructors. Two of them were excellent and the reason
I stayed in the program (in fact, one's on this list); the rest were so bad
as to be negligent and should have never been invited back---I deeply
resented those classes because I, in effect, spent $1,500 on a self-teaching

There were a few good practice courses offered from these two excellent
instructors: Writing for the Computer Industry was one; HTML was another;
Instructional Design yet a third. However, our programming choices were C
(not C++) and Pascal. Give me a break. Why not Java or VB??? Why not a
course on user interface design?

I worked through my degree writing a suite of documents for ISO 9001
compliance and felt comfortable with my education at the time. Yet when I
was recruited to my current job in e-commerce, I no longer felt comfortable
at all. Suddenly I was hearing for the first time about design patterns and
frameworks, Java scripting, system architecture, etc.

I realize a two year college program can't teach me all that in one night a
week (per class) for two hours. On the other hand, I wish there had been
more information on what was going on in the industry. Ironically, it was
the contracted instructors who provided this information. While this
shouldn't come as a surprise to me (after all, they're out there working in
the industry), I felt my school should have provided me with a stronger
education so I would be ready for the job market. I learned less how to
write well and fast than I did how to theorize and place everything in its
own little cognitive box. I really don't care about the social
constructionist implications of writing unless I'm going to be in academia.

In the end, on my own and through this list and *some* STC offerings, I am
getting into it and learning. Although I am the sole tech writer in a
company of 350, I am respected and (yes!) wanted.

I thank all of you for being out there! Each day I get a dose of reality and
can see what everyone else is doing out there.

Thanks for being there.

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