Re: What should be on a technical writing curriculum?

Subject: Re: What should be on a technical writing curriculum?
From: "Jane Bergen" <jane -dot- bergen -at- usa -dot- net>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 30 Oct 2000 14:54:06 -0600

Hello, Thom,

I'm currently teaching in a technical writing program at a local
university, although it's a degree program, not a certificate program.
There is a certificate program at a local community college --in the U.S.,
these are just two-year colleges, as opposed to 4-year for Bachelor
degrees and 6-year (2 years beyond Bachelor's) for Master's degrees. I
don't know how the Canadian system is set up, so sorry if you already know

The biggest problem with some certificate programs is that they are highly
tool-oriented, as opposed to the degree programs, which emphasize skills
and theory. For example, the local certificate program offers courses in
RoboHelp, where the degree program will offer a course in Online
Documentation (the one I'm currently teaching) that includes theory of
online communication, evaluation of online help systems across a wide
spectrum, some practical experience with a tool (changes from semester to
semester), and a more comprehensive look at online documentation systems
in general. Personally, I cannot imagine spending an entire semester, or
even a quarter semester on just RoboHelp!

Our degree plan curriculum (University of North Texas) offers courses in
Style (one of the toughest courses!), Desktop Publishing, Principles,
Editing Technical Documentation, Project Management, and others.

One of our greatest "challenges" is finding a real-world project for the
semester. Ideally, we should find a real software program that needs
documentation. We should have access (e-mail is fine) to the engineers and
to the company's design specs, etc. This would make it a more valuable
experience for the students, but it's very hard to actually find and

Hope that helps. I found a wealth of information on the internet, too. I
searched on keywords like "technical writing" AND "syllabus" (substituting
in various combinations: technical communication, courses, studies, etc.)
Lots of schools now put their course offerings, class schedules, class
syllabus, class information, etc. online, which has been so helpful to me.
I'm sending a few URLs that might be helpful:

If I can help any more, let me know.

Jane Bergen

----- Original Message -----
From: "Thomas Quine" <quinet -at- home -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>

Sent: Monday, October 30, 2000 10:43 AM
Subject: What should be on a technical writing curriculum?

> I have a terrific opportunity to design a curriculum for the technical
> writing certificate program at a local university. I'm turning to the
> for advice.

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