Tag Archives: teaching technical writing

Rhetorical & #TechComm Analysis of Kickstarter “hacking” response

What happened?

“Important Kickstarter Security Notice”

https://www.kickstarter.com/blog/important-kickstarter-security-notice

What happened in summary?

  • Last week on Wednesday (this date is relevant) Kickstarter’s website was hacked and users’ personal data was stolen. Kickstarter released a PR statement regarding the security incident on Saturday (yes, 3 days later, on a holiday weekend) with recommended instructions that users should take.

Why am I writing about this?

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Reflections on Finishing a Technical Communication Graduate Program

As I reach the end of my time at Minnesota State University, Mankato, I can look back and say that I made the right choice to pursue the Master of Arts, Technical Communication (MATC) degree.

Before my penultimate semester in the program, I pondered whether the graduate technical communication program I chose was the correct option for me. Once again, I want to take some time to reflect on the choices I made, the experiences I’ve gained, and what I’ve learned along the way as I finish my thesis and complete the program.

*** To read the full article, see the Spring 2013 issue of Techniques, pages 1-5, 7.

Summary of contents:

  • Applying theory to practice — the “practice” versus “theory” debate
  • Master of Arts degree is synonomous with “adaptable”
  • How to benefit from networking as a technical communication graduate student and technical writer
  • How an online graduate degree prepares you training, working, and teaching
  • Technical Communication is a Multidisciplinary Field
  • Minnesota State University, Mankato, fulfilled my goals for a master’s degree in technical communication

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Filed under Technical Writing

Article Review: 350-word summary of “A Question of Ethics: Lessons from Technical Communicators on the Job”

Dragga, Sam. 1997. “A Question of Ethics: Lessons from Technical Communicators on the Job.” Technical Communication Quarterly 6 (2): 161–178.

The questions of how useful, desirable, or effective ethics instructions is for professional technical communicators has been visited and revisited for decades. Most of the literature concerning ethics instruction focuses on the analytical perspective rather than on narratives. In this article, Dragga offers a claim based in part on Continue reading

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Article Review: 350-word summary of “The Big Chill: Seven Technical Communications Talk Ten Years After Their Master’s Program.”

Wilson, Greg, and Julie Dyke Ford. 2003. “The Big Chill: Seven Technical Communications Talk Ten Years After Their Master’s Program.” Technical Communication 50 (2) (May): 145-159.

This “Applied Research” study uses an interactive qualitative method and what the authors define as an “autoethnography” to critically examine the culture of technical communicators. The authors posed questions to stimulate an unstructured conversation on how technical and professional communication (TPC) Master’s programs prepared students for the workplace.  The four topics addressed in this survey were Continue reading

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Article Review: 350-word summary of “Do Curricula Correspond to Managerial Expectations? Core Competencies for Technical Communicators”

Rainey, Kenneth T., Roy K. Turner, and David Dayton. 2005. “Do Curricula Correspond to Managerial Expectations? Core Competencies for Technical Communicators.” Technical Communication 52 (3) (August): 323–352.

This research article uses survey data to analyze the curricula at undergraduate technical and professional communications programs (TPC) and interviews with technical communication managers to evaluate which competencies they desire in workers.

The research takes a broad view and only looks at which competencies (skills or knowledge) programs focus on and which ones managers desire—it does not determine the value of these competencies outside of these two perspectives.

The findings

Similar to other research of TPC program curricula, ethical considerations rank in the 50-percentile based on the qualitative content analysis curricula correlated to the surveyed manager expectations. The findings are not representative of all technical communication managers, as noted by Rainey et al. because a large enough random sample could not be found and instead a “sample of convenience” was used to draw some general trends. The top competencies and trends that managers desire from TPC graduates are interpersonal skills and a general knowledge of technology—the ability to learn new technologies is valued more than specific knowledge of technological tools.

Application of research

There are a few ideas that I thought were interesting when applied to my own research. Related to this paper’s methodology, I thought that using a “pre-survey” at the beginning of the survey to gain unbiased results before presenting the managers with a selection to choose from is a good idea. And whereas my research will focus only on ethical considerations, this research did present findings that support my research topic—namely, how approaches to “skill building” versus “depth of cognitive insights” (Rainey, Turner, and Dayton 2005, 323) are important TPC curricula to prepare graduates to understand the impact technology has on people and on their own work.

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Article Review: 350-word summary of “Linking Ethics and Language in the Technical Communication Classroom”

Sims, Brenda R. 1993. “Linking Ethics and Language in the Technical Communication Classroom.” Technical Communication Quarterly 2 (3): 285.

This essay combines a literature review with case studies to examine what communication-ethics principles students are learning and to demonstrate how technical communication courses should approach ethics instruction. The author discusses current literature (as of 1993) and suggests that the current pedagogy structures ethics learning around actions, or what I call the industrial approach, instead of by

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Article Review: 350-word summary of “TPC Program Snapshots: Developing Curricula and Addressing Challenges”

Allen, Nancy, and Steven T. Benninghoff. 2004. “TPC Program Snapshots: Developing Curricula and Addressing Challenges.” Technical Communication Quarterly 13 (2): 157–185.

This article combines quantitative data from the results of surveys of technical and professional communication (TPC) programs along with a literature review of humanities and technology literature. The surveys examined what the core program curricula were for TPC programs—the authors examined the courses using a quantitative scale to rank the frequency and breadth of the courses within a program.

The examination itself (more so than the results) provides a background that helps frame my research on ethics in TPC programs and whether the curricula adequately prepare students for the workplace. Continue reading

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