For college faculty members who have little or no workplace experience, providing industry training offers an opportunity for them to gain valuable, first-hand knowledge of workplace realities without the usual complications of corporate/business politics. It requires less commitment than traditional workplace experience, like consulting or short-term work in business/industry, because industry training courses are traditionally shortterm and narrowly defined. Also, they do not have to market themselves or manage financial and legal issues; these are usually left to a coordinator. It requires less preparation because they can teach courses which they have already taught in the college classroom.
Four service-learning projects were conducted in technical communication courses using wikis. Results confirm previous findings that wikis improve collaboration, help develop student expertise, and enact a “writing with the community” service-learning paradigm. However, wikis did not decenter the writing classroom as predicted by previous work. Instructors using wikis to scaffold client projects should calibrate standards for evaluation with students and client, and they may need to encourage clients to stay active on the wiki.
In a collaborative project that bridged professional cultures, 40 students from technical communication and computer science collaborated on a software development project. They worked in small groups developing subparts of a complex word processor. Questionnaires and project logs revealed that participants found the project generally appropriate and beneficial, but the cross-disciplinary collaboration was neither valued twr successful.
This article presents an argument for and offers illustrations of service learning in technical communication courses and curricula. Alongside traditional internships that prepare students as future employees, service learning provides students with an education in engaged citizenship. This article reviews service-learning literature, discussing specifically the advantages of projects to students, faculty, and the community. The authors also describe three projects in which instructors and students integrated service learning and technical communication in innovative ways.
Designing desktop publishing courses around a model of service familiar in the U.S.--the pro bono publico tradition of professional gratis service--would broaden students’ professional horizons in addition to meeting growing demands for service learning. Such courses would mate volunteerism with the democratic spirit of desktop publishing, a technological platform that provides a means for unrepresented voices to be heard and read. One community project is outlined.
What happens when we adapt the paradigm of service learning, which traditionally serves the underprivileged or nonprofits, to for-profit clients?
Pedagogical and scholarly discussions of the process of usability tend to focus more on methods than on practices, or specific, tactical performances of and adjustments to these methods. Yet such practices shape students' learning and determine the success of their usability efforts. A teacher research study tracking students' understanding and enactment of usability and user-centered design over the course of a service-learning project illustrates the importance of practice-level struggles—and the thoughtful preparation for and facilitation of these struggles—to the development of students' flexible intelligence (metis) and rhetorical translation skills.
Teachers at all levels of college instruction use service learning, a popular pedagogical tool since the mid-eighties, to teach students both social consciousness and pragmatic, real-world writing skills. This article explores the concept of service learning as rhetorical action in the field of technical communication in general, and the question of whether service learning is appropriate in beginning level technical writing courses. Using my experience through two years of service learning instruction in community college classes, I respond to the charge that students in lower-division courses may lack the maturity to successfully enact service learning assignments. I also analyze the appropriateness of the community college as a catalyst for community-based writing projects.