Re: Incorporating Pagemaker in a Tech Writing Class?

Subject: Re: Incorporating Pagemaker in a Tech Writing Class?
From: Michael Lewis <lewism -at- BRANDLE -dot- COM -dot- AU>
Date: Sun, 22 Feb 1998 12:43:47 +1100

At the University of Western Sydney, in the BA(Communications) course,
there are several subjects adding up to a Professional Writing major.
One is a basic subject called "Reasoned Writing" -- I hate the name, but
you can probably get some idea of what it's about. "Technical Writing"
is another subject. Then there's "Writing and Document Design" (WDD),
which includes a series of PageMaker tutorials -- not because we want
the students to learn PageMaker per se, but because they need to be able
to implement their designs (so that we can grade them!)

This whole structure is very modular, so that we can include some
modules (such as Reasoned Writing) in the journalism, tech writing, and
public relations streams. WDD is excluded from journalism, but fits in
both the Tech Writing and PR streams.

Much of the teaching is done by "industry professionals" on part-time
contracts (like me). I can't speak for all my colleagues, but certainly
in the Tech Writing subject I try to adopt a broader "Tech
Communication" approach rather than a narrower "Tech Writing" one. In
WDD, I try to go wider still, tying design issues to "genre" issues --
and thus including brochures, company reports, and even advertisements
as well as technical documents.


Michael R Moore wrote:
> Greetings.
> Our Technical Writing courses here at the University of Arizona will be
> held in computer labs beginning in the fall (75% of class time in the lab
> and 25% in a classroom).
> While my query to TECHWR-L subscribers specifically concerns Pagemaker,
> I'm eager to know your thoughts on technical writing curricula in general:
> did you have a college-level tech writing course? Did it include a
> substantial unit on design elements, page layout, or graphics?
> As part of our move into wired classrooms, we're considering how to best
> use that environment without losing the focus on writing and editing. Do
> you think a substantial unit on design and graphics is outside the scope
> of a Technical Writing class, or given the nature of the field today,
> should it be emphasized?
> For context, although the course catalogue lists the upper-division course
> as "Technical Writing," many instructors think of it as "Technical
> Communication," thus allowing for more leeway beyond writing and editing.
> (In my class, for example, students have an option to create their own
> typeface, using Typographer.) Also, very few -- if any -- students will go
> on to become freelance Technical Writers, but are preparing for fields in
> Engineering, Computer Science, Forestry, etc.
> I look forward to your thoughts on this question. Thanks in advance.
> Michael Moore

Michael Lewis
Brandle Pty Limited, Sydney, Australia
PO Box 1249, Strawberry Hills, NSW 2012
Suite 8, The Watertower, 1 Marian St, Redfern 2016
Tel +61-2-9310-2224 ... Fax +61-2-9310-5056

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