Re: Imagine you teach

Subject: Re: Imagine you teach
From: Johndan Johnson-Eilola <johndan -at- PURDUE -dot- EDU>
Date: Tue, 22 Dec 1998 09:45:05 -0500

The answer to this depends a lot on the students you're teaching and the
purpose of the course in their education and work.

If the course is a technical writing class for students in other majors
(for example, majors in mechanical engineering), the focus on programming
may or may not be useful. (In fact, I frequently have students from
computer science or computer technology, for whom my ramblings about
programming principles would be redundant and probably off the mark.) A
course for these students would concentrate not on on-line help or
programming, but on workplace writing issues (including processes of
writing in workplaces, document versioning, technical presentations,
instructional/documentation writing, etc.). In most universities that I'm
aware of, technical writing is often considered a "service" course that is
offered to students in other disciplines (rather than a course for students
wanting to specialize in technical writing).

If the course you're envisioning is a corporate training session rather
than an academic course at an educational institution, I would still
suggest the focus be on workplace writing issues rather than programming or
online help.

If the course *is* for students majoring in technical writing, it's hard to
see why this would be the *only* course in technical writing the students
take--more likely, the might have a course on online help (or at least on
documentation). As other posters have suggested, they would be required or
encouraged to take one or more courses in programming (especially if they
intended to specialize in computer industry work). Students wanting to
specialize in other areas (biomedical, management, mechanical engineering,
etc.) might also benefit from programming courses, but the courses should
probably remain as electives rather than requirements.

- Johndan

At 8:55 AM -0500 12.21.98, David Thompson wrote:

> Imagine you teach tech. writing.
> You have to teach 1 of the following:
> 1. The principles of On Line Help or
> 2. The principles of programming.
> Which would you choose and why?

- Johndan Johnson-Eilola
Director of Professional Writing
Department of English voice: 765.494.3772
Purdue University <mailto:johndan -at- purdue -dot- edu>
West Lafayette, IN 47907-1356 <>

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