Great Interest in TW Courses, But No Answers...Help Please!

Subject: Great Interest in TW Courses, But No Answers...Help Please!
From: Tekky30015 -at- aol -dot- com
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
Date: Wed, 15 Sep 1999 01:27:53 EDT

Hi all,

Per a previous posting, many people have contacted me asking where the
University that I am considering taking online courses for a Certificate in
Technical Writing is located (Boston, MA). However, no one has commented on
what they think of the comprehensiveness of the set of courses proposed for
this Certificate, and how well it might prepare one for a career as a TW,
esp. in software/hardware documentation.

I know many of you do this type of work, and many are managers -- there is a
good group of us who would be very happy to hear back from you regarding how
this investment might help our careers (or not). Previous message is listed
below.

TIA,
D. Crossman
Technical/Scientific Writer, Boston, MA
DLCrossman -at- aol -dot- com

Suggested TW-related Courses?

As a prior freelance/consulting technical writer, primarily in the areas of
science & medicine & proposals, I'm planning to enroll in a Certificate
Program to help myself get some "established/structured" background in more
common technical writing. The hope is that these courses will give me proven
experience in technical writing, esp. software & hardware documentation,
reports, etc., editing, and enough HTML/CGI knowledge to perhaps
create/maintain webpages, and create online documentation. One of the
reasons for doing this is so that I can get some experience, via the
University offering this program, which I can display in a Portfolio
that is currently lacking. The program begins 9/27, and takes 1
year or less to complete. The cost is significant to me, so any feedback
regarding the apparent quality or comprehensiveness of courses would be
appreciated.

(It is possible to take other courses pertaining to Webmaster Technology,
Advanced Web Design, Internet Technologies, and Data Communications through
this particular "online" program. Would anyone suggest that I try to include
any other specific courses, including programming courses, to round out this
program, or make myself more marketable with this Certificate? I could take
courses in the computer, english or other departments (e.g., MIS), if I
attended in person, which I can also do. Ultimately, I am interested in
the field of networking or telecommunications, I think?! Or maybe
e-commerce.)

For anyone interested, I have listed the 5 courses required for the
Certificate and their descriptions below (count towards undergraduate credit):

Courses Include:

1) TCC 4103 Technical Writing Intensive

Course Description:

This course helps you begin to develop marketable skills in technical writing
and allows you to develop career search goals and strategies in technical
writing. You will learn to select and organize the data about which you will
write. You will learn audience analysis and research techniques. You will
have frequent technical writing exercises and projects that are applicable to
both software and hardware writing tasks. You will practice formatting,
outlining, organizing, writing and editing technical reports.

The weekly assignments, which consist of outlines or responses to questions,
are due in one week unless indicated. Your success as a writer is often
determined by how effectively you perform as judged by the group with which
you work. Using an assessment form, you will learn how to evaluate the work
and effort of other class members. Details on grading will be found in the
syllabus and on the final project.

Benefits:

After taking this course, students will be able to:

?Complete descriptive, classification and definition assignments ?Write
descriptions of objects, mechanisms and processes ?Write collaboratively
?Write for your readers ?Outline, design and develop reports

Prerequisites:

Students are expected to have writing skills and basic computer literacy. The
writing skills needed are those learned in composition courses: creation of a
central idea, development of supporting material and good organization.
Students are expected to have a good grasp of grammar. A writing proficiency
exercise is given as the first assignment.

Intended Audience:

This course is designed for anyone who wishes to enter the field of technical
writing. This course is appropriate for English and journalism majors who
wish to enhance their skills or change careers. Entry-level programmers and
individuals working in high tech, computer science, environmental and health
arenas will also benefit from this course. It is also helpful for consultants
who must prepare detailed reports on projects.

Cost: $1,260, 6 quarter hours

Instructor: Deanne Harper and Kalo Clarke

------------------------------------------------------------------------
2) TCC 4105 Editing for Science and Technology

Course Description:

This course teaches the fundamentals of editing as they apply to science,
technical and engineering writing. Emphasis is on developing analytical and
critical abilities and the logical thinking necessary for editing technical
information. This course is structured to build and strengthen your editing
skills.

Benefits:

After taking this course, students will be able to:

?Use proofreader's marks ?Edit technical documentation ?Easily and quickly
identify wordy phrases ?Translate verbose text into simplified, concise
sentences ?Use active voice and understand passive voice and its use ?Write
clearly, consistently, and concisely ?Use peer editing to critique
documentation ?Confidently make edits ?Organize information ?Understand the
fog index and measuring the readability of yourdocumentation

Prerequisite:

TCC 4103 Technical Writing Intensive or instructor's permission.

Intended Audience:

This course is designed for anyone who is developing or revising
documentation and needs to know how to write more concisely.

Cost: $630, 3 quarter hours

Instructor: Amie Smith

------------------------------------------------------------------------
3) TCC 4301 Computer Software Technical Writing 1

Course Description:

This course is an introduction to the principles and practices of computer
software documentation and technical writing. The course consists of a series
of reading assignments, real-world technical writing exercises and the
preparation of a ìbetaî draft of a computer software manual. The writing
exercises, manual development and preparation, and the reading will be
helpful in developing strong writing skills in the design and preparation of
software documentation.

Benefits:

After taking this course, students will be able to:

?Understand the steps required to prepare and write a successful user manual
?Envision the documentation process from the alpha version to the pre-beta,
almost-beta and beta versions of a software manual ?Prepare software
documentation that is "task-oriented" rather than "function-oriented" ?Learn
what "style considerations" contribute to a document ?Visualize how a
combination of text and graphics can make the difference between a
"user-friendly" manual and a "user-seductive" manual ?Develop procedures,
tutorials, online help and job aids ?Create "front and back matter" - table
of contents, list of tables/illustrations, index, glossary and reference
sections

Prerequisites:

TCC-4103 Technical Writing Intensive or instructor's permission

Intended Audience:

This course is designed for technical professionals, especially technical
writers, who are expected to design, write or review computer software user
manuals and related documentation.

Cost: $630, 3 quarter hours

Instructor: David Skill

------------------------------------------------------------------------
4) TCC 4302 Computer Software Technical Writing 2

Course Description:

This course is a continuation of a study of the principles and practices of
computer software documentation and technical writing covered in TCC 4301
Computer Software Technical Writing 1. The course, like TCC-4301, consists of
a series of reading assignments and real-world technical writing exercises.
TCC-4302 also requires the preparation of a final production version of a
computer software manual, based on the beta version of a manual prepared in
TCC-4301. The writing exercises, manual development and preparation, as well
as the reading assignments should be helpful in developing strong writing
skills in the design and preparation of software documentation.Various
aspects of technical writing style will be covered, in depth, throughout the
semester, as well

Benefits:

After taking this course, students will be able to:

?Learn how to write software documentation that works ?Learn how to apply the
fundamentals of document design ?Gain an understanding of the importance of
prototyping ?Learn how paper and online documents differ ?Discover the roles
of readability and usability in software documentation preparation ?Gain an
understanding of minimalism ?Learn advanced aspects of editing, updating and
revising ?Address the role multiculturalism plays in documentation

Prerequisite:

TCC 4301 Computer Software Technical Writing 1

Intended Audience:

This course is designed for technical professionals, especially technical
writers, who are expected to design, write or review computer software user
manuals and related documentation.

Cost: $630, 3 quarter hours

Instructor: David Skill

----------------------------------------------------------
5) MIS 4239 HTML/CGI Programming

Course Description:

Almost every document, graphic and online transaction encountered on the
World Wide Web is included in an HTML document. HTML (Hypertext Markup
Language) is a way of "marking up" documents for presentation on the Web.
This course presents an introduction to HTML document design. After an
overview of the HTML language, we look at the basic techniques of HTML,
including hypertext links, placing images and formatting lists and tables.
Advanced topics include the use of HTML forms, placement of JavaScript
applets and ActiveX controls and the use of Cascading Style Sheets (CSS).

Finally, we look at the Common Gateway Interface (CGI) as a means of
communicating with HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) servers. Throughout the
course, we emphasize good design, usability and proper coding techniques.

Benefits:

After taking this course, students will be able to:

?Create attractive, efficient HTML documents using a variety of markup tags
?View HTML documents using a variety of Web browsers ?Organize information
using lists ?Lay out documents using tables and frames ?Enhance documents
using Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) ?Place graphics, Java applets and Active X
controls on a Web page ?Insert special characters into an HTML document
?Connect to a variety of resources using hypertext links ?Collect user input
using forms ?Post information to an HTTP server ?Evaluate a document's design
for effectiveness, usability and efficiency

Intended Audience:

This course will appeal to Internet users who wish to create their own Web
pages, modify existing pages or "fine-tune" the pages generated by popular
Web site creation packages. This is a moderately technical course that
teaches HTML techniques. It is not intended as a first course in computing.

Prerequisites:

A working knowledge of the Internet is assumed. You should be able to log on
to an Internet service provider, use a browser to navigate through Web sites,
send e-mail and download files. You should also be skilled with the text
editing features of your system. No programming knowledge is assumed.

Cost: $630, 3 quarter hours

Instructor: Steve Maher




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