A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.

Harvard University

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Designing for Motivation and Usability in a Museum-Based Multi-User Virtual Environment   (PDF)

This National Science Foundation (NSF) funded research project is creating and evaluating graphical multi-user virtual environments (MUVEs) that use digitized museum resources to enhance middle school students' motivation and learning about science and its impacts on society. MUVEs enable multiple simultaneous participants to access virtual contexts, to interact with digital artifacts, to represent themselves through “avatars,” to communicate with other participants and with computer-based agents, and to enact collaborative learning activities of various types. Initially, MUVEs were based only on textual descriptions); now, many MUVEs are graphical in nature, or use graphics to enhance textual descriptions. Our project's educational environments are extending current MUVE capabilities in order to study the science learning potential of immersive simulations, interactive virtual museum exhibits, and 'participatory' historical situations (http://www.virtual.gmu.edu/muvees/). To accomplish this, we have built our own MUVE shell based on the Sense8 WorldToolKit (http://www.sense8.com/).

Dede, Chris, Diane Ketelhut and Kevin Ruess. Harvard University (2000). Articles>Education>Instructional Design>Usability


HBS Cases: How Wikipedia Works (or Doesn't)

An ongoing tension within Wikipedia is characterized as the inclusionists versus the exclusionists. The inclusionists argue that one of Wikipedia's core values is that it should be open to all ideas, that truth emerges from a variety of directions. Better to include than exclude. The exclusionists see Wikipedia's utilitarianism diminished if too much froth clouds the valuable information inside. These people delete material they consider inappropriate. The case offers students a chance to understand issues such as how online cultures are made and maintained, the power of self-policing organizations, the question of whether the service is drifting from its core principles, and whether a Wikipedia-like concept can work in a business setting.

Silverthorne, Sean. Harvard University (2007). Articles>Knowledge Management>Policies and Procedures>Wikis


The Interview Question You Should Always Ask

After you have narrowed the pool of applicants down to those with the skills, experience, and knowledge to do the job, ask each candidate one question: What do you do in your spare time?

Bregman, Peter. Harvard University (2009). Careers>Management>Interviewing


Is Your Email Businesslike — or Brusque?

Anyone whose ever been part of an online "flame war" has had the experience of a tiny "e-mole" becoming a mountain. Studies have shown that readers add (or invent) emotional bias that is often counter to your intent as the sender. In this case, all of the niceties you thought you were writing ended up sounding very different in the mind of your employee.

Silverman, David. Harvard University (2009). Articles>Business Communication>Correspondence>Email


Politics, Sound Science and the Precautionary Principle

William Lowrence’s Of Acceptable Risk (1976) began the forthright treatment of the subjective elements of risk assessment. Maintaining that 'risk' was scientifically objective, his discussion of 'safety'—as socially acceptable risk—acknowledged the political nature of the overall evaluation. But even a rigid determination of a clear risk—say of injury from skydiving—cannot tell us why only some people will agree to jump from an airplane.

Bereano, Philip L. Harvard University. Articles>Risk Communication>Biomedical


Risk Communication: A Neglected Tool in Protecting Public Health   (PDF)

A June 2003 publication from the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis.

Harvard University (2003). Articles>Risk Communication


Twenty Ways to Make Lectures More Participatory

Lectures play a vital role in teaching. There will always be a place for lectures in the curriculum -- to give technical material or factual information, to provide structure to material or an argument, to display a method or example of how one thinks in a given field, or even to inspire and motivate students to explore further. At the same time, it often enhances both your presentation of the material and students’ learning when students are able to participate in some way. When students engage actively with material, they generally understand it better and remember it longer.

Harvard University (2002). Articles>Education>Instructional Design>User Centered Design


What Makes a Weblog a Weblog?

Assuming a Wiki is a weblog-like system that allows anyone to edit anything (I know some don't) then a Wiki represents an interesting amalgam of many voices, not the unedited voice of a single person.

Winer, Dave. Harvard University (2003). Articles>Web Design>Writing>Blogging


Working in Groups: A Note to Faculty and a Quick Guide for Students

Many students have had little experience working in groups in an academic setting. While there are many excellent books and articles describing group processes, this guide is intended to be short and simply written for students who are working in groups, but who may not be very interested in too much detail. It also provides teachers (and students) with tips on assigning group projects, ways to organize groups, and what to do when the process goes awry.

Sarkisian, Ellen. Harvard University (1995). Articles>Education>Collaboration

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