TechWhirl (TECHWR-L) is a resource for technical writing and technical communications professionals of all experience levels and in all industries to share their experiences and acquire information.
For two decades, technical communicators have turned to TechWhirl to ask and answer questions about the always-changing world of technical communications, such as tools, skills, career paths, methodologies, and emerging industries. The TechWhirl Archives and magazine, created for, by and about technical writers, offer a wealth of knowledge to everyone with an interest in any aspect of technical communications.
Okay, some loudmouth challenged me in private email to impart my semi-brilliant
vision for a tech comm curriculum. Just to show up the dingle-berry, I offer up
the following haphazardly thrown together Technical Communications Curriculum.
The Plato approved Technical Communications Curriculum(tm) has 6 parts,
described as follows...
--Part 1: Logan and Briscoe--
Named after my favorite Law & Order detectives, this set of classes teaches the
would be tech commie how to dig up information. The focus is on basic research
and information gathering techniques. There should be one class where a guy
yells "PAY ATTENTION AND LISTEN" at you for 6 hours so you never forget that
little chunk of wisdom.
Strategies for FORCING people to give you information.
How to Build a Concept Matrix
Basic Scientific Method (Brainstorm, Theorize, Test, Document, Collect
--Part 2: Rhetoric --
This section focuses on teaching basic rhetorical techniques and strategies to
help writers describe complex ideas. A huge emphasis is placed on crafting well
balanced arguments and descriptions.
Advanced composition (modes of persuasion, constructing an argument, etc.)
Logic (Everybody should be forced at gun point to take a logic class once.)
--Part 3: Science and Technology--
This section introduces basic scientific and technological concepts to help the
would be tech commie understand complex designs and systems.
Basic Programming and Data Modeling
Flow charting and process development
Geometry and basic math
--Part 4: Graphic Design--
This section teaches the wannabe tech commie basic principles of graphic
design. Particularly, how to draw diagrams, descriptive charts, and stylized
flow charts or process diagrams.
Layering and colors
Advanced flow charting
Photoshop, Paint Shop Pro
--Part 5: Get down to Business
In this phase, our hapless victim is exposed to basic business and economic
principles. This helps our potential tech commie comprehend the decisions the
business world makes as well as how products are taken to market.
Basic finance and accounting
Branding and franchising
--Part 6: Tech Writing Basics--
This is what most tech comm programs are today. This section focuses on tools,
layout, organization, and usability. Special attention is directed toward
building documentation designs that are simple, effective, and unobtrusive.
Tools (Frame, Word, etc.)
Grammar and editing
After such a program, I would feel confident hiring this person. They would
have solid investigation skills, strategies for forming arguments, basic
science and technology skills, some drawing capabilities, and last but
certainly least - they could write.
Mostly, this person would have a well rounded set of professional and technical
skills in addition to being able to write.
Now, since this program has many different things, I imagine it would be very
hard. Hence it would scare away a lot of people and the universities wouldn't
be able to profit off people with more money than common sense.
So we have dumbed down tech comm programs that teach a little usability, show
you how to install FrameMaker, and survey the latest fonts.
Your suggestions, comments, and additions to my curriculum are encouraged.
I'm really asking for it now.
Do You Yahoo!?
Talk to your friends online with Yahoo! Messenger. http://im.yahoo.com