RE: Leading and Bleeding Edge?

Subject: RE: Leading and Bleeding Edge?
From: "Sharon Metzger" <sharon -dot- metzger -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: "'Lonie McMichael'" <loniemc -at- gmail -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 5 Jan 2016 14:22:14 -0500

Great idea to "outsource" the answers to the students themselves, especially
with the context Monique suggested.

I wonder how many of your students might already be working in a tech
writing or other job with some level of access to different tools. When I
was a master of tech writing student sometime last century, many of my
classmates were employed and working on the degree part time (including me),
and a minority were full time students. My class assignments were more
varied than my daily work activities, and I chose the tool (available at
work) based on the project. Thus they pushed my knowledge of the tools
available at the time, and I graduated with a portfolio of projects created
with a variety of tools -- even though I didn't learn any specific tools as
part of a course. (LaTeX, PageMaker, FrameMaker (partner for one group
project had it on her job before I got around to it), some homegrown
WYS-is-sorta-WYG editor, raw early HTML with Emacs' html-mode...I certainly
used that portfolio to demonstrate the points others have made in this
thread about adaptability.) We did have an online help class, but I never
took it -- it never really fit into my schedule when it came around, and
they kept changing versions of RoboHelp or whatever. Although there are
real-world lessons right there, the class never really seemed to gel (my
takeaway from other students).

It might be worth starting with your classroom to figure out what tools are
available to them -- maybe some of them can demo their own tools/workflows
or demo a free trial or two.

And don't forget image creation/manipulation software as well as the text
editing/production tools -- SnagIt, Illustrator, etc.

FWIW,
Sharon
(currently a Confluence user missing the glory days of FrameMaker)

-----Original Message-----
From: techwr-l-bounces+sharon -dot- metzger=gmail -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
[mailto:techwr-l-bounces+sharon -dot- metzger=gmail -dot- com -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com] On
Behalf Of Lonie McMichael
Sent: Tuesday, January 5, 2016 11:22 AM
Cc: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Subject: Re: Leading and Bleeding Edge?

Thank you all so much! You have given us a great start for our project. My
students will have plenty to think about.

As I acknowledged to someone in a private email: it isn't really about tools
anymore. Most importantly, it's about adapting. One thing I tell my students
over and over again: I promise you that technical writing as we know it will
change, and probably change often. It certainly has in the 25 years I've
been in the field. I do my best to teach them to adapt first and foremost.

Just getting academics to do anything with technology is a fight. I was a
tech writer for over a decade, then came back to academia. I was appalled to
find out that most academics teaching technical writing refuse to touch
technology. I've developed this course to at least give my students some
access to tech. I'm the odd one out, though.

I do know that the more exposure they have to a variety of tools, they
better they will adapt. There is no way I can teach them the more advanced
tools like DITA, Flare, etc. simply because we do not have the money or
support to have such programs on a classroom basis. We are trying to make
some of the tools available to the students through our lab, but that is
about it. However, I can make them read and write about advanced tools so
they at least have a concept of what they are and how they work. I'm having
them prepare a report describing the technology, software or tool,
explaining how it is used to produce documentation, and what kind of issues
writers have with the tool. They will use the archives of techwr-l as their
primary source. It isn't ideal, but it is better than nothing.

Thank you again for all your input!

--Lonie


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References:
Leading and Bleeding Edge?: From: Lonie McMichael
Re: Leading and Bleeding Edge?: From: Chris Morton
Re: Leading and Bleeding Edge?: From: Tom Johnson
Re: Leading and Bleeding Edge?: From: Susan Post
Re: Leading and Bleeding Edge?: From: Tom Johnson
Re: Leading and Bleeding Edge?: From: Lonie McMichael
Re: Leading and Bleeding Edge?: From: Lonie McMichael

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