In defense of tech doc education

Subject: In defense of tech doc education
From: "Tim Altom" <taltom -at- simplywritten -dot- com>
To: "TechDoc List" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 24 Mar 2000 08:59:42 -0500

May I say a word in defense of those who teach tech doc?

Locally in Indianapolis, Dr. Harriett Wilkins runs the tech doc certificate
program. She goes out of her way to keep contact with STC and local tech doc
departments and companies. She's asked me and several other practitioners to
speak to her classes. Her students are encouraged to attend STC meetings. I
don't know what else she could do, frankly. Practitioners are often invited
to appear at student gatherings at the Purdue campus, and the ones I've been
to are always lively and well-attended, the student inquisitive and
surprisingly well-informed. I've also had the opportunity to sit and talk
with many other academics, and I'm frequently amazed at how much they value
those times when they can get feedback from an industry member.

Academics often get a lousy rap among practitioners. I'm here to remind the
list of the marvelous work that many of them have done. I'm indebted to many
of them for their work in usability, human-computer interaction, and design.
It's partly because of their efforts (and their teaching) that tech doc
today is immensely better ON AVERAGE than it was just ten years ago. They
openly share what they know at conferences all over the world. I for one am
damned glad for them.

If you truly feel that the programs near you aren't suiting the job market,
then get in touch with the program director and volunteer to consult with
them about how to make it better. Mr. Plato, you're a vocal person...why not
volunteer to serve on an advisory board? I would think that would be far
more productive than vilifying schools on this list. I don't know about
liberal arts schools, but every accredited engineering college is required
to have an industrial advisory board of some sort. Contact the dean's
office...they may be thrilled to have you. Simply Written proudly serves on
the IUPUI School of Engineering's DIAC, and for just the reasons I stated.

Tim Altom
Simply Written, Inc.
Featuring FrameMaker and the Clustar(TM) System
"Better communication is a service to mankind."
Check our Web site for the upcoming Clustar class info

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