CAPSTONE IN TECHNICAL COMMUNICATION

 

Information design refers to all aspects connected to writing, communicating, editing, designing, and producting print and web artifacts. The use of design in the name reflects the complex perspectives, situations, and contexts where writing and communication occur. From Daniel Pink's perspective (author of A Whole New Mind), design is a state of mind necessary for success in the 21st century workplace.

COURSE DESCRIPTION

This course will focus on the changes that will occur with the technical communication certificate program and courses. Although not yet approved, the certificate's name will likely change to Information Design.

In my argument to English and Communication faculty, I argued that the word "technical" seems to scare off some students who might otherwise be interested because it conjures up images of science and engineering. The truth is that with only five classes and no accompanying technical curriculum, I can't go deeply into technical content nor do I have the expertise to critically write, edit, or revise technical information.

Like most people in my field, our expertise lies in the writing and its clarity as well as its presentation. This expertise grows out of the mandatory training in composition graduate students in Technical Communication receive as teaching assistants, establishing a composing perspective. When provided the opportunity to teach technical writing and communication, most of us, unfortunately, do not receive the same kind or level of training. Only a small number of technical communication teachers and scholars actually have real-world experience as a technical communicator. Consequently, technical communication faculty tend to define their expertise in writing, editing, document design, and presentation. We'll discuss this perspective more in class.

Renaming the program Information Design will, I believe attract more and a wider variety of students even if they do not know what it means because the word information is ubiquitous and familiar, and therefore, less likely to scare away potential students. Unlike technical communication, I believe, that students will be more likely to ask about its content than to simply walk away.

Throughout the semester, we will be redefining the program and its meaning for the future. We will read and discuss various definitions, theories, and practices of information design, seeking a comprehensive and cohesive perspective of this concept and how it will shape the program and its courses.