RE: How do I teach manual writing in a four-hour seminar?

Subject: RE: How do I teach manual writing in a four-hour seminar?
From: "Guru Kamath" <guru -at- bom5 -dot- vsnl -dot- net -dot- in>
To: <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Sat, 8 Jul 2000 01:52:56 +0530

Hello Peter,

I have been conducting one day seminars on technical writing (in India) for
the past 14 years. Fourteen years ago, I conducted one day seminars on
technical writing for a top multinational in software exports. Needless to
add, the one day format has remained but the quality of my audience has
improved tremendously. In my last seminar two months ago, I had an audience
of top-notch hardcore experienced technical writers! (One of them asked me
to provide pointers on writing American English!) I provided my latest
seminar contents to this list earlier (so you can search the archives).

English, grammar, punctuation and other such details are not covered in my
seminar. Usability testing, Web, Online Help, and other such topics are only
mentioned.

From the feedback that I have obtained for these seminars, surprisingly
there have been no requests for additional seminars or elaboration of the
contents. (I do pack my seminar with lot of content! Most of them are too
dazed to ask questions at the end of the day.) In a desert, I have provided
a few drops of water. Naturally, there are no complaints.

One of the drawbacks of my seminar has been that there are no Exercises or
Quizzes. Participants are not asked to "waste" their time doing such
exercises during the seminar and similarly time is not lost in correcting
them and providing feedback. An idea which I have not been able to implement
is to have a follow-up 4-hour session, where such exercises can be corrected
and feedback provided. In other words, give a 4 or 8-hour seminar which is
theoretical. At the end of which provide the exercises as home work.
Participants can do this at their leisure and email it to you. You can then
provide them feedback in the follow-up session.

Since your scope is manual writing, I think a half-day (4 hours) or one-day
(8 hours) program is perfectly in order. I remember attending a 4-day
seminar conducted in Chennai by an International University (North
America) -- it was too slow by local standards. The Indian audience for such
seminars is really good. What I am driving at is that -- if you know your
audience well, you can tailor your program to meet their needs within the
given restricted time. (Needless to add, I attended the seminar for fun as I
am an experienced technical writer.)

My fond hope has always been to give a progression of such seminars.
Meaning, have several 4-hour and 8-hour seminars, over a period of time.
Basically, have newbie programs, then Advanced level and so on.

I do hope this email provides some pointers to you. If I can answer any more
questions, please feel free to contact me directly.

Guru





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