Suggested Technical Writing Curriculum

Subject: Suggested Technical Writing Curriculum
From: Andrew Plato <intrepid_es -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: Techwrl-l <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 16 Oct 2000 13:52:11 -0700 (PDT)

Seeing as how there has been a lot of messages posted about technical
communication degrees and somebody just asked me in private what I thought
about a particular curriculum - Seemed like a good time to repost "The Perfect
Technical Writing Curriculum" which I wrote a while back.

Chock full of good ideas for those living a low cholesterol high hypocrisy

The Plato-Perfect Technical Writing Curriculum (Beta 2)

--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.

Suggested classes:

Strategies for FORCING people to give you information.
Advanced CYA
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.

Suggested classes:

Advanced composition (modes of persuasion, constructing an argument, etc.)
Rhetorical analysis
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.

Suggested Classes

Basic Electronics
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.

Suggested classes:

Design basics
Layering and colors
Advanced flow charting
Web design
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 Marketing and branding
Basic Economics and finance
Business management

--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.

Suggested classes
Layout basics
Using Hierarchies
Tools (Frame, Word, etc.)
Audience Analysis
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 would be very difficult and is multi-discipline, I
image few if any universities would accept it as it would not be very
profitable. Thus, we have the current state of certification degrees which
teach nothing more than some advanced administration skills.

Andrew Plato

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