Teaching Tools in Tech Comm Programs

Subject: Teaching Tools in Tech Comm Programs
From: "George F. Hayhoe" <gfhayhoe -at- SCESCAPE -dot- NET>
Date: Thu, 5 Dec 1996 09:31:50 -0500

There's been some discussion about the lack of training graduates of some
technical communication programs receive in use of software commonly used
in our profession.

We first need to make a distinction between education and training.
Education first teaches us how to learn, and then exposes us to theories,
principles, and methods that apply whether we use the World Wide Web or
clay tablets as our communication medium. Training, on the other hand,
familiarizes us with those media and their effective and efficient use.

We must also acknowledge that while education is relatively timeless,
training quickly becomes outdated. The tools we were trained in during our
junior year or earlier will be superseded by the time we graduate.

Finally, the technical communication department is not the best endowed
financially at any institution of higher learning of which I'm aware.

That said, how can we help make a difference?

We can volunteer to serve on advisory boards of technical communication
programs. Any program worth its salt has a group of industry advisors to
help it evaluate its curriculum, set up and administer internship programs,
and generally serve as a sanity check for the program. They need
knowledgeable and willing volunteers.

We can offer to speak to student STC chapters to help their members learn
more about our profession. If there is no local student chapter, we can
recruit student members in our professional chapters and help them increase
their awareness of professional practices and commonly used tools.

We can encourage our companies to participate in internship programs and to
contribute money, hardware, and software to the technical communication
program(s) in our local areas.

We can contribute money, hardware, and software personally.

And there are probably lots of other activities that could be added to this
list, so be creative in responding to the challenge.

This is a time of year when we are barraged on all sides by appeals to our
generosity. Let's not forget that the local equivalents of Toys for Tots or
the United Way are not the only charities out there. Educational
institutions are also worthy beneficiaries of our tax deductible dollars
(or applicable local currency).

And whether we have money to give or not, we can always give of our time.

--George Hayhoe (gfhayhoe -at- scescape -dot- net)

George Hayhoe Associates
Voice: 803-642-2156
Fax: 803-642-9325

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