Friday, March 21, 2008

Can Technical Writing Really Ever be "Fun"?


I put in a request to teach my first-ever Technical Writing course in the Fall, as our DGS indicated that past graduates have found the experience to be something that was valued once they hit the job market. Since I'm going on the market in the Fall, I thought this would be perfect timing to teach the course, but I'm now somewhat dreading the unknown. When I initially (way back as an undergraduate) switched to an English major, I thought I wanted to be a tech writer when I grew up. After talking with my tech writer uncle, however, I was quickly bored to tears and running for the nearest exit --- agghhh! I still don't know how he does his job...Anywho, the way I understand it is that technical writing is a course students try to get some benefit from in the sense that they develop things like job portfolios, business design-y things, etc. I also get the impression that our department has the materials available to enable instructors to follow a standard cookie-cutter tech writing course, complete with the textbook, assignments, evaluation rubrics, etc. if one chooses this route....Yawn....I'm bored already.

So I ask you: Is technical writing a course that can't help but be boring? Is there anything an instructor can do - short of a song & dance/stand-up comedy routine - to make the coursework and projects interesting (dare I say fun)? If you've taught tech writing before, what kinds of things did your students enjoy? Or, is this one of those situations where I just have to suck it up and be bored for a semester?

1 comment:

p-duck said...

I don't know how to make tech writing "fun" but I do know it's a valuable course. i worked in HR for almost 5 years and saw my fair share of awful resumes, hideous cover letters, and read (and wrote) an insane amount of reports, memos, project docs, etc. So, I kept emphasizing to my class that the material is VERY pertinent, even if it doesn't seem so at the moment. Finding some way to relate the work to their interests helps.
Good luck!
- g