Software for Students, Take 2

Subject: Software for Students, Take 2
From: "Marie C. Paretti" <mparetti -at- naxs -dot- net>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 22 Feb 2001 15:34:57 -0500

Wow - you folks sure are helpful (even Andrew! ;->). Thanks for all the
input - in general, it seems like the list I'd compiled works fairly well, perhaps
with one or two revisions on the order (I'll summarize all the responses this
weekend, when I have more time), and maybe combining some (PSP or
Photoshop, but not both, for ex).

Let me clarify one point and ask a follow-up question, though. The computer
lab (actually a computer-integrated classroom), will be available for all the
courses in the Professional Writing track, which include not only a course
in User Documentation (including OLH) and one in Writing/Designing for
the Web, but also a (paper) Document Design course geared more towards
newsletters, brochures, etc., and a course in Report and Proposal Writing
(along with a two-course intro sequence that works through basics like
audience, purpose, interviewing SMEs, editing, developing expertise in an area, etc.).

The lab will be PC (though there is also a Mac lab; I'm not sure
if we're getting the same software for both).

PageMaker is on the list primarily for the Doc Design course. It's one of the
few programs on the list I've never used professionally (I've spent most of my
"adult" life doing rather than teaching), and it's there at the request of the
person who teaches that course. It's also the one program most people
suggested dropping.

As I understand it (again, I write mostly software manuals so this is outside
my framework), the three nominees in the category of "Short Document
Design Software" are PM, Quark, and InDesign. For the few newsletters
I've done, I used Word with lots of tables or Frame, so what do I know?

I checked the archives and didn't find much commentary on ID except for
a long debate over its relation to the often-rumored end of Frame and
a few comments about it not being quite ready for prime time. Most comments
lean toward Quark, though there were hints of compatibility problems there.

Any feedback you can give me (without starting a Tool War, or Eric will
shoot me) on those three options would be most helpful. From what I hear,
the person in charge of buying is leaning towards InDesign, it being hot
and new and all.

Keep in mind, our goal is to expose students to the types of software
they may need and get them familiar with what's possible, rather than
make them toolheads..

Thanks again.

Dr. Marie C. Paretti
Assistant Director, Professional Writing Program
Department of English, Virginia Tech
Blacksburg, VA 24061-0112
mparetti -at- vt -dot- edu (540) 231-7909

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