Re: Imagine you teach

Subject: Re: Imagine you teach
From: Jill Burgchardt <jburgcha -at- PESTILENCE -dot- ITC -dot- NRCS -dot- USDA -dot- GOV>
Date: Tue, 22 Dec 1998 09:00:04 -0700

This is such a wide open question, because we have no context of where the class
is taught (college, high school, business), to whom, or with what objectives.
We don't even know the extent to which David is referring to two different
courses or just two different titles with a slightly varying focus. After
several posts with questions, I notice David hasn't elaborated on his original
post at all. But, it's a great trolling question and I'll bite.

Given a choice between:

>1. The principles of On Line Help or
>2. The principles of programming.

I'd argue for an alternative that should be a predecessor to either, "Principles
of Systems Analysis and Design." Online help systems are, well, systems. Help
Authoring Tools and programming languages are both tools used to implement
designs. Some tools skills are a necessary part of education--they demonstrate
that a person can apply the principles. Just don't bypass the Principles part of
the course in favor of the tools.

The two most valuable courses I've taken were "Principles of Systems Analysis
and Design" and "Fundamentals of Management." Considering that I went to 5
schools over a 23 year period and (if the credits had all transferred) took over
270 credits before graduating, that's saying a lot.

Both classes taught concepts that have been useful to every work situation I've
ever been in. Tools change, principles remain valuable. Another benefit: The
systems analysis and design course taught analysis skills that work outside the
software industry. If you don't know the environment your students will use
their skills in, choose something adaptable.

If the courses listed are a follow-on to the kind of course I'm recommending, I
think either one should provide practical lessons. I'd probably lean toward the
programming class, just because most HATs are so easy to learn they don't
require a full course. Anyone with a good principles class and a basic knowledge
of programming should pick up a HAT without too much effort.

And, I have to echo the other posters who ask--"Why would these be taught in a
technical writing curriculum?" I've read the industry standards on designing
online help systems and managing documentation projects. They are wonderful
additions to what I learned in those two classes. They help me apply design and
management principles to my profession. However, without the two principles
courses taught in their appropriate departments, I really question whether I
would be getting as much value out of the tech-writing-specific texts.

Jill Burgchardt
jburgcha -at- pestilence -dot- itc -dot- nrcs -dot- usda -dot- gov

From ??? -at- ??? Sun Jan 00 00:00:00 0000=

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