Re: Worthless Tech Comm Degrees

Subject: Re: Worthless Tech Comm Degrees
From: David Castro <thetechwriter -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: Andrew Plato <intrepid_es -at- yahoo -dot- com>, TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 23 Mar 2000 14:31:54 -0800 (PST)

> And they probably didn't spend 1/100th of a second actually teaching anything
> useful like how a network works, what inheritance is, or how to break down a
> complex design into component pieces. Basically, tech comm degrees teach you
> how to hold a hammer, what a nail is, and how a house should look - but not
> how to nail boards together. So when you get out on the construction site,
you
> can pontificate for hours about how you need better nails and more
appropriate
> hammers, but you lack the skill to actually USE those tools effectively.

Not so the degree program I went through (at San Francisco State University).
My degree program required 18 units of Focus of Interest classes. Those are
classes that pertain to whatever area you're going into. For mine, I took
software design classes: Pascal, data types and algorithms, database design and
implementation, computer security, and more. I learned about object oriented
programming (in fact, I used it when I programmed Digester's Reader for the
digest subscribers to this list), the software design process, how to code, and
so on. It's been extremely helpful when trying to get information out of the
programmers. Certain programmers couldn't whip out a bunch of big words to get
rid of me, like they did with certain other writers I worked with. I asked
better questions than my coworkers, and produced better documentation.

Is it all due to the classes I took as part of the degree program? Nah. I chalk
at least half of it up to my personal enjoyment of programming.

> Now - I know you're all going to have 97 3/4 hissy fits explaining how layout
> and organization are important to a document. Feh. Never at expense of the
> data, Bubba.

Not at the EXPENSE of data, but it is certainly an integral part of getting the
data to the user. If the document looks like drek, nobody's gonna read it. Heck
a lot of 'em won't read it anyway, so why put a stumbling block in front of the
few who actually will?

> Hence the ubiquitous Tech Comm degree. Class after class of how to use
> whitespace and never a moment devoted to learning how to digest information.

Not true in my program. I wrote a white paper, constructed an online help
system, and rewrote a document for three different audiences. I learned how to
work collaboratively on a document with other writers. Lots of stuff I continue
to use every day.

> Professor after
> professor who hasn't spent a single minute in the real world.

Again, not at SFSU. The first requirement for teachers is that they have spent
10 years in the field as a technical writer. No, they have the experience to
back up what they're saying.

-David Castro
Senior Information Analyst (whatever the heck an information analyst is)
thetechwriter -at- yahoo -dot- com

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