Re: Distribution of the list

Subject: Re: Distribution of the list
From: "Focus on 3 things: Quality, Quality, Quality" <raven -at- RHETOR -dot- ENET -dot- DEC -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 29 Apr 1993 10:29:34 EDT

To the teacher/professor at Baylor (Mary Massirer? sorry, I deleted
the orig message):

I concur with what everyone has said so far about what to add
to a technical writing course. Here are a few additional thoughts of my
own (as a technical writer AND and adjunct professor):
1. ALWAYS distinguish between technical
writing-that-people-do-as-a-full-time-job and writing that technical
people, such as engineers do. Some may argue that the PRODUCT of each
is not different, but I argue that the PROCESS of each is very
different--in one world, writing the the PRIMARY job responsibility
(and in many cases the genres writeen are different), and in the
other, writing is considered an ancillary activity. For example,
an engineer-who-writes reports and papers might not need to
learn much about indexing and writing good headings. A technical
writer should.

2. If you're teaching a technial writing course about how to
do "writing is my main job" technical writing, teaching--or
exploring--process is ETREMELY important. And not just process like
Linda Flower process. Process as in Pat Bizzell: We need to teach the
students that every discourse community (e.g. each company) has its
own conventions and processes. I view the techincal writing process as
much broader than the process researchers. It's also MUCH more social
(by that I mean interactive with other people AND that it is
influenced by the culture/community in which it takes place). Students
will have to learn to adapt--they should know that there is no ONE
RIGHT process. My suggestion is supported my comments from others
about learning more about group work, managing projects, and so on.
Dr. Roger Grice has a book coming out with Baywood press about the
technical writing process at IBM--I think it would make good reading
for a class. However, it's not done yet. Roger will be at the STC
conference in Dallas, so ANYBODY--if you see him there, bug him to
finish the book cause I think it will be very useful!

3. Last, most technial writing programs that I've been
involved with (as a student and a teacher) have focused on WRITING.
Well, writing is probably only about 25% of what tech writers do at
work. One very important thing to learn is interpersonal conflict
negotiations, how to run meetings (like draft reviews) and stuff like

4. (OK, so 3 wasn't last). Obviously, based on the discussion
started by Kate, tech writing programs might do a real service to
their students by talking about possible "class conflicts" in the
workplace and what can be done to educate others (not tech writers)
about the value that technical writers add to the organization.

Best of luck,
Mary Beth Raven
Raven -at- usable -dot- dec -dot- com
Digital Equipment Corporation, Nashua, NH

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