I’m starting this New Year with a new course under my belt: Simon Fraser University’s Concepts and Practices of Technical Communication.
The course was 100% online through SFU’s WebCT, 13 weeks, with 8 group assignments and 4 individual assignments. The text, Writing Revisable Manuals: Print and Online, was uploaded to WebCT, which made it easy to print if needed. (Don’t tell anyone that there is an online version of the book, one of the assignments has something to do with it) .
For a course 100% online, it was rather practical. Content wise the course touches on every stage of creating a manual. From building a team, calculating costs, formatting, researching information, to planning a print and online version of the manual we created. It felt like the course gave a good sense of what to expect as a technical communicator without going into details.
As for course dynamics, today most projects in most fields include online collaboration one way or another. Coordinating efforts with a group we had just met was, not surprisingly, the most challenging part of the course. But also one of the most important in terms of learning. Although we never met face to face, my group was friendly and reliable.
Though I have experience creating some technical documents, it was helpful to learn industry standards.
One of the areas I though could be improved was the lack of background and preparation we were given for each assignment. Every assignment required us to step into unknown territory and there were times when we were not sure if we were on the right track. The feedback we received was more than expected and answered all previous questions. Yet, I feel we could’ve learned more if we would’ve had a bit more build on before jumping on these assignments.
This Winter I’ll be taking the Technical Writing and Editing course (there is no link to the course yet) as I prepare to enroll in the Technical Communication Certificate next summer.