tools of the trade

Subject: tools of the trade
From: edahlquist -at- gmx -dot- co -dot- uk
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Sun, 24 Feb 2002 21:50:05 +0100 (MET)

Thanks to all those who responded to our survey about tools of the
trade?your advice has been extremely valuable in pointing out the direction of further
studies. As soon as we have gathered and analyzed the results, we will post
them here. Again, thank you for participating.

The direction indicated, given the results of our own surveys and those of
previous studies, is now up to the students. We have surveyed professionals in
the field, universities, and instructors.
However, no one seems to have asked the students what they want. This is a
key point, because most of the students in Tech Writing majors are highly
motivated and wired into the real world, and most are aware of the strong and
weak points of their programs.

For example, several respondents indicated that university level training
should be primarily broad-based theoretical topics, rather than application.
The underlying premise is sound, but the application may not be. That can
easily be determined by surveying students to determine how many actually gained
employment in tech writing after completing a particular program, their
starting salaries, what deficiencies they encountered in their skills, and what
they would recommend to other students to avoid pitfalls.

Many students in tech writing programs are motivated primarily by an
interest in the topic, with the money a secondary consideration. They like what they
do. Our basic premise is that it may be to the advantage of those students
to freely trade information and ideas, and to share their information and
insights. For example, if I spend several years of my life studying a topic in a
university, then enter the workplace to be passed over by students from other
schools with better preparation, I am going to be somewhat agitated. Ego
aside, I want my university to occupy the position now (apparently) occupied by
Texas Tech or the University of Washington in the technical communication

Simply offering classes in technical communication does not necessarily
create a good technical communication program. Ultimately, the most relevant
indicator of a program's success is the success of its students. Would anyone
care to venture an opinion on which training program he or she thinks is best,
and why? Any opinions on the current technical communication programs by
students or recent graduates? Any experiences anyone would be willing to share
about how well prepared they were for employment on graduation?

Technical Writing - Documentation - Online Tutorials and Help Files
Contract technical professionals serving the communication needs of
other technical professionals.

GMX - Die Kommunikationsplattform im Internet.

Now's a great time to buy RoboHelp! You'll get SnagIt screen capture
software and a $200 onsite training voucher FREE when you buy RoboHelp
Office or RoboHelp Enterprise. Hurry, this offer expires February 28, 2002.

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