Re: TECHWR-L Digest - 22 Aug 1993 to 23 Aug 1993

Subject: Re: TECHWR-L Digest - 22 Aug 1993 to 23 Aug 1993
From: "Focus on 3 things: Quality, Quality, Quality" <raven -at- USABLE -dot- ENET -dot- DEC -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 24 Aug 1993 10:38:32 EDT

To Mary Massirer and others who teach technical writing:

Good luck, and let us know how you make out. I have taught "technical
writing" (e.g. engineering and scientific writing) and Technical
writing (for future professional writers), but in neither case was I
able to hold the class in a computer room, although Mac labs were
available to me and the class in both cases.Instead, students used the
labs to write their papers, and used email to communicate with me
during the week.

(Various profs at RPI have used a mac lab for a couple of years and
taught writing courses in there. But I don't know who is teaching
technical writing there any more.)

I doubt you'll find any teaching software for technical writing. But
there might be an editing package or 2 that are useful, but I have no
specific suggestions.

My recommendations come from my years in industry rather than my
teaching experience. These recos are: MS word and e-mail might be all
you need (with the exception of a BARCO thingie that lets you display
a computer file on an overhead so that all can see. but you could also
have all students open the same file and look at it on their own
screens). In my industry expeience (yes, limited essentially to
computer companies), real technical writers , and engineers who write
progress rpeorts and specs and such, use a basic writing tool like
wordperfect, MSword, Frame, etc. and if they want comments, they send
a copy of it in email to various colleagues, who mark it up. Yes, this
is inelegant. We do things like type "My comments are between the
**'s: to help our comments stand out. but email is also supremely easy
and accessible.

Also, based on my expereince trying to teach software classes
internal to Digital (where I have taught in classrooms that DO hve
one terminal perstudent), I caution you that the temptation for
students to type while you are trying to lecture is ENORMOUS. even tho
I know what it's like to try to teach in such a situation, I have been
guilty of checking my own email during a boring (my opinion only, of
course) lecture about tips and trick sof CAD software.

So, if you can, set up the computer lab as we did at
Digital--we had the computers in a big U shape around the walls, and a
U-shpae of just tables in the middle. During lectures, we make
students all face tinward--the little U. During labs, they turn around
and all face outtware--the big U (facing the computers).

Last, (this is heresy, I suppose, coming from the fact that a
computer company pays my wage), a computer is just a tool. I don't
think we'd totoally change our curriculum based on whther we had
pencils or fountain pens. I'm sure there's an awful lot you can teach
them about process and about "good writing" without ever having
students touch a computer.

I'd be happy to talk if you want to give me a call at
work--508-264-7167 or home 603-881-0629.
Mary Beth Raven
Digital Equipment Corporation
Nashua NH
and sorry for types--I'm doing this remotely and it's sooo s-l-o-w!
Date: Mon, 23 Aug 1993 12:15:49 -0600
From: Mary Massirer <Mary_Massirer -at- ENGLISH -dot- BAYLOR -dot- EDU>
Subject: Computer syllabus

I'm interested in begging sample syllabi from anyone who is teaching Technical
Writing in a computer classroom. I have a chance to have my junior-senior
Tech. Writ. class meet in a computer classroom during the spring semester and
need to know what software to buy that might work most effectively and what
methods have worked for other people. Ours is a Macintosh room running
Microsoft Word 5.0. The computers are networked already, but not with any
specific teaching package. I'm open to suggestions and don't wish to reinvent
the wheel. Thanks. Mary Massirer (mary_massirer -at- english -dot- baylor -dot- edu)

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