Having designed and taught two successful courses of Writing & Editing for Gaming and now designing and teaching Tabletop Game Writing Lab, the chair of the Professional Writing department at Taylor University asked what else I might be interested in teaching. The course I thought of immediately that would be great for our students across multiple majors is Technical Writing.
Technical writing is performed by a technical writer (or technical author) and is the process of writing and sharing information in a professional setting. A technical writer’s primary task is to convey information to another person or party in the most clear and effective manner possible. The information that technical writers convey is often complex, and it is one of their main tasks to analyze the information and present it in a format that is easy to read and understand. A good technical writer needs strong writing and communication skills. They do not only convey information through text, and must be proficient with computers as well. They use a wide range of programs to create and edit illustrations, diagramming programs to create visual aids, and document processors to design, create, and format documents.
While commonly associated with online help and user manuals, technical writing covers a wide range of genres and technologies. Press releases, memos, reports, business proposals, datasheets, product descriptions and specifications, white papers, resumes, and job applications are but a few examples of documents that are considered forms of technical writing.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technical_writing#cite_note-2
I have done quite a bit of technical writing during my undergraduate work in Physics and my graduate work in Education. Add to that over two decades working in Information Technology, and I have experienced a lot of technical writing. I wish I had taken a Technical Writing course during my earlier studies, so I look forward to delving into this topic more. I am sure the process of designing and teaching this course will make me a better writer in my day job and a better editor as a freelancer as well.
The plan is to design the course this year and offer it in the Fall of 2020. I am early in my research and am currently evaluating textbooks. The two I have found I like so far are
- The Essentials of Technical Communication by Elizabeth Tebeaux and Sam Dragga
- Technical Writing – The Fundamentals by Wanda L. Worley and Rebecca Fitterling
Have you taken or taught a Technical Writing course before? If so, do you have a textbook you like and would recommend? Any pointers for teaching Technical Writing at the university level?