Re: What sayest me... on Worthless TC Degrees

Subject: Re: What sayest me... on Worthless TC Degrees
From: "Sella Rush" <sellar -at- mail -dot- apptechsys -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 27 Mar 2000 14:31:02 -0800

> And now for some of my thoughts on what others wrote on this topic:
> Sella Rush wrote:
>> While along the degree path people will learn about whitespace, fonts,
>> etc.,the most important topic that Tech Comm courses can--and do--teach
>> how to gather *data*, digest and process *data*, and spit out *data* in
>> form that's usable to people who might actually need it.
> Kathi wrote: I think that any good college education will teach someone
how to
> gather, process, and spit out "data." After all, I cannot believe that you
> can go through four years of college and not have one research paper to
> write! And it doesn't matter in what major a person gets the education.
> College education is generally designed to teach students the skills of
> thinking and learning.

There is little relationship between writing a research paper and writing
user documentation (although writing a research paper is a good first step
toward learning to writer user documentation). The main differences are the
document's goal and the audience.

Students write research papers to prove to a professor that they did
research and, in upper level classes, that they actually put a little
thought into the subject. The professor will read it once, make comments on
presentation and possibly depth of analysis. The professor will *not* use
the paper to accomplish a task, to learn something new, or as a reference.

The emphasis of tech comm courses is in the phrase: "in some form that's
usable". Kathi is right, of course, that most college classes teach
research and many teach analysis. Tech comm courses teach a specific type
of communication: how to write to a specific audience (just as journalism
or creative writing programs do for different audiences). And writing for
specific goals and audiences colors your research and your analysis. (This
is no different than any other major, which builds of the general skills
students should be picking up in their general requirements.)

And that brings us right back to usability, which is what Andrew was railing
about. As I and many others have insisted: usability is far more than
white space and font sizes.

And the most important aspect of usability is organization of information.

Sella Rush
mailto:sellar -at- apptechsys -dot- com
Applied Technical Systems (ATS)
Silverdale, Washington
Developers of the CCM Database

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