Graduate Study in Technical Writing: Cross-Disciplinary Needs

I’ve written elsewhere about the need for “cross-training” in the world of instructional design–more specifically: how e-learning and ID professionals would profit from boning up on the writing and information design skills that are the bread and butter of the technical communication profession. I would argue, though, that the same holds true for technical writers. We can all list the obvious communication skill sets that make us effective technical communicators–but what would you say are the kinds of skills and trainings that fall outside of how we normally define our profession that are increasingly important in our field?

 

I have to confess: I have a vested interest in this question. Here at Southern Polytechnic State University, we have had some flavor of graduate TCOM degree for over twenty years, and we have fine-tuned our curriculum a number of times to address the changing needs of our profession. We are involved in that process again, and I would love to hear from practitioners. What do you feel is lacking in current graduate programs–what is the sort of skill set you would hope to gain that would make a graduate degree worth your time and effort?

 

We already have some ideas in mind–greater emphasis on communications project management skills, coordination & deployment skills, etc.–but what are your thoughts? If you are interested in how our degree and certificate programs are currently configured, you can check out what we offer at: http://idc.spsu.edu.

 

I look forward to your responses!

 

Mark Nunes

Chair, English, Technical Communication & Media Arts

Southern Polytechnic State University

Comments

  1. Profile photo of Dennis Divine
    Dennis Divine

    I would offer journalistic training in regard to professional interviewing skills–you need to be able to ask the right questions regarding how to perform an operation, & learn how to translate that to print in an accurate form is crucial. 

    Advanced English composition is something else that is necessary for technical writing, giving the writer a comprehensive ability to lay out words & sentences in a variety of ways, depending upon the need.  Copyediting is a related skill which I would recommend; it’s one thing to write, & being able to self-edit is also important. 

    Finally, interpersonal communication skills are a must-have (listening as well as speaking).

    These are all fundamentals, that once learned, will reward you over a lifetime. The technology will always change, but these skills endure.

  2. Profile photo of Dennis Divine
    Dennis Divine

    I would offer journalistic training in regard to professional interviewing skills–you need to be able to ask the right questions regarding how to perform an operation, & learn how to translate that to print in an accurate form is crucial. 

    Advanced English composition is something else that is necessary for technical writing, giving the writer a comprehensive ability to lay out words & sentences in a variety of ways, depending upon the need.  Copyediting is a related skill which I would recommend; it’s one thing to write, & being able to self-edit is also important. 

    Finally, interpersonal communication skills are a must-have (listening as well as speaking).

    These are all fundamentals, that once learned, will reward you over a lifetime. The technology will always change, but these skills endure.

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