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We have both an undergraduate degree and an MA program. The Undergrad program asks students to take courses in such things as Document Design, Designing for the Web, Usability testing, Writing Software Documentation, Grantwriting, Technical Style and Editing, Editing for Publication, and a host of other things.Within these classes, we introduce people the research, practice, and concepts that go far beyond *The Idiot's Guide to Technical Writing*.Our undergraduates are quite sought after.Hey, I could use some of those classes. *grin*Degree programs have their place. Unfortuneatly, almost by definition, schools can only focus on the research and writing end of it.Technical writing is much more than writing - it's troubleshooting, self directed research, navigating corporate politics, being a user's advocate.I'm not an "either/or" person, or at least I try not to be. Through the STC I've gained access to pure research, professional articles, seminars and they have helped improve my writing. We can talk about designing usuability studies - but there's no replacement for sitting next to a struggling user and trying to figure out how in ?$%# you are going to explain it so it makes sense. I honestly think 2-3 years in a tech support role should almost a pre-requesite to entry level technical writing.In a sense, The Idiot's Guides and For Dummies lines are the ideal examples of technical writing. In a clear and fun manner they manage relay a great deal of technical information. People actually want to read them. Isn't that the goal? I'm fully aware many topics don't lend themselves to the "Dummies" style but certainly most technical writing could be improved by using their techniques.What blows my mind is that most college professors demand a minimum amount of a pages, like the goal of writing is to fill space. The absolute best techncial writing practice I got from my undergrad experience was from a professor that demanded only paper be only 3 pages, be on time, and proofed. He took whole letter grades off after the first 3 proofing mistakes.Harsh? Yeah but's it is much closer to what actually happens when doing this stuff for a living. People don't want to read volumes, they have other things to do. Oh yeah, you really can't miss deadlines, and have the final doc full of typos and grammar mistakes.Anyway, my post is already too long. *grin* I'm not trying to dis you or your program...these are just my thoughts as someone working in the field. *shrug* JustSilly
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