Appraisals based on objective performance criteria identify and measure the abilities and contributions of technical communicators. This workshop explores how to develop effective performance criteria, specific to technical communication, and how to use these criteria to evaluate performance and foster professional growth and development.
Some kind of shared discourse is needed for the shared work of the academic community to continue; and even more so, this paper argues that the nation needs some kind of shared discourse in which to address the pressing problems that confront us all.
Technical writers and editors in the environmental field can make additional contributions to the document production process by becoming familiar with risk communication principles. These principles can help us communicate more effectively with the public about controversial environmental projects, which are ever increasing. Considering the public's power to delay such projects, our ability to diminish public opposition through good risk communication skills is invaluable.
International technical communication is the profession of the present and most definitely of the future. Businesses around the world need technical communicators who are skilled in communicating with a multicultural audience and who are comfortable working as members of international teams. This workshop introduces you to some basic skills you need to master to be successful as an international technical communicator. The skills this workshop focuses on are: performing an international user analysis, identifying cultural bias, generating a glossary for translators, and designing a page with translation and the international user in mind.
Using benchmarking, a company compares its processes with another best-practice company to improve the way it does business. The panelists, who have participated in several benchmarking projects, explain the benchmarking process and offer practical, real-world advice on how to do successful benchmarking.
A company decides to release its software and documentation simultaneously in markets with different languages. For the documentation team, the traditional model of 'write and translate' does not work any longer. A bilingual writing team collaborates to produce a handbook in two languages at the same time.
A two-person bilingual writing team enabled a software application development group to produce on-line documentation and a user guide simultaneously in two languages. Team writing in an international environment requires detailed planning, constant monitoring, and continuous communication in order to succeed.
A browse sequence enables users to navigate through a series of help topics in the sequence established by the help author. Although often omitted from help systems, the browse sequence is useful and will become essential as print documentation diminishes. Effective design options for a browse sequence include multiple segments, rings, branching, and the use of a browse button to take the user to the first topic in the current segment of the browse sequence.
Since government agencies deal with all audiences represented in the population, a variety of communication strategies must be used. One example from work at the National Vehicle and Fuel Emissions Laboratory serves to illustrate this point in reaching out to communicate environmental issues. In this example, interpersonal, community, mass media, and print communication all serve a vital role in building a constituency around one environmental issue.
This presentation describes a strategy to meet a last-minute enterprise demand for online help for a software application program. We established design standards for writing online help, developed a process for gaining consensus from the project team on the content of the online help, and wrote the online help. We accomplished this in less than four months-a task that originally seemed impossible.
This workshop exposes attendees to the complexities of capital equipment budgeting and purchase, specifically in the areas of depreciation, useful life of a product, and accounting and company policy. By role-playing in a simulated business environment, attendees 'learn the ropes' and sharpen their skills.
The task of informing the public about various health risks is fraught with many problems. It is essential to overcome them if risk communication is to be improved. In 1989, the National Research Council (NRC) released a report that is important for many reasons. In particular, it helped establish a conceptual framework for risk communication and identified a research agenda to improve risk communication practices. One area of need identified by the report was better use of case studies to understand, e.g., 'how people react to different types of messages and channels; [and] what their actual concerns, frustrations, and data needs are' with regard to particular health risks.
Time constraints prevented our team from rewriting our user's guide for online use. Early user testing and off-the-shelf electronic tools were key elements that ensured our success in enhancing usability to cancel the deadening effect of data dumping. We added menus and graphical navigation aids for user convenience. Interleaf provided automatic hypertext links and support throughout the project. We included an installation-and-reference guide to inform new-to-online users how to install and use the our product.
Are you considering publishing your documentation on CD-ROM? Sign up for a consultation with experts from leading CD-ROM firms. NOTE: This 'workshop' takes place in individual 15-minute one-on-one sessions. Please try to arrive early and sign up for your time slot; then you're on your own (visit the exhibits? call your office?) until your session time. This way, all participants receive the complete attention of a CD-ROM consultant. We'll work with drop-ins if any time slots remain unassigned.
The Chapter Development Stem offers sessions for all conference participants, not just the STC leadership. We have broadened the scope of the stem to create room for some new and innovative topics that compliment our traditional mix of chapter-related sessions. So take a look at what we have to offer and think about how you can include several Chapter Development sessions in your conference plans.
Chapter seminars help members by providing current technical communication information, significant additional chapter funding, recruitment of new members, and a proving ground for new leaders. Seminars need a definite organization and leaders need clearly defined responsibilities and authorities. Seminars must provide useful relevant information, either focused or diverse, delivered effectively by skilled speakers. Seminars are not expanded monthly meetings; they must be quiet properly equipped pleasant facilities. Seminar finances must be balanced to provide the desired surplus, or the sting of lost funds will linger long after the sweet success of a stimulating program is forgotten.
Every chapter relies on volunteers for its success. The secret to successful chapters, then, starts with recruiting the right people, training them well, delegating to them carefully, nurturing them along the way, and rewarding them for a job well done.
Understanding organizational behavior and using creative problem solving are as much a part of being a technical communicator as is expertly applying the English language. Recognizing this, the authors-two senior technical communicators—have identified several typical, but not predictable, organizational problems that involve technical communicators. Solutions will be provided when the paper is presented at the conference.
Recent studies suggest that classroom collaboration is not always successful. We designed a course that motivates students to provide adequate help for writers. In this course college students studying to become technical communicators mentored high school students in language arts and content area courses. In order to overcome barriers of schedules, distances, and resources, we created a multimedia system that combined face-to-face communication and networking in one configuration. We collaborated with University of Minnesota groups, local high school personnel, US WEST Communications, Inc., and Compression Labs, Inc. in the development of the system.
Many large, hierarchical organizations are segmentalist in their approach to management. Nonetheless, such organizations are capable of supporting integrated, team approaches to particular types of communication problems. For such approaches to be successful, however, there must be strong managerial commitments to team support. This paper discusses how committed leadership, specific production guidelines, and empowerment enhanced the activities of an Air Force writing team assembled to help revise and edit Air Force Policy Directives containing corporate level guidance on a variety of topics.
Research indicates that teams are more effective when they satisfy the social goals of their members. Therefore, teams that focus on interpersonal communication (the internal performance process) as well as the team's objective (the external product) improve their chances for success. It follows, then, that classroom instructors can enhance team success by adding interpersonal communication components to courses that use teams. This paper shows how we used this research to design an innovative NSF program. The program incorporated an interpersonal communication component to motivate student teams to succeed.
This is an exploratory study of reading and writing within a particular discipline. It is also an investigation of critical thinking and an examination of engagement and resistance in using language to learn about new concepts. I looked at how college history students wrestled with and sometimes worked around issues of theory, specifically theories of the causes of the Civil War. Using analysis of think-aloud protocols, I investigated how students comprehended theoretical writing about the Civil War and how they used the theoretical material to take a position in writing about these same issues. My main purpose in this article is to examine the cognitive moves students make, their ways of thinking, when working with theory, an activity which many educators today are touting as particularly important in developing students’ critical thinking abilities. I am especially interested in the stances students take toward their subject matter which promote critical reasoning, that is, which lead to engagement, as well as approaches which circumvent or stand in the way of such thinking, that is, which lead to resistance.
Designed for technical communicators with one to five years of working experience, this workshop enables participants to successfully demonstrate the value of their work by drawing on personal experiences to describe their capabilities and approaches. Specifically participants will effectively muster facts, figures, and metaphors to convince an employer (supervisor, colleague, project director, or whomever) that he or she can: come into a project “cold”; complete a front-end analysis of needs; develop an appropriate approach; and perform to specified standards, regardless of subject matter. Further, this workshop aims to build self-esteem by highlighting the added value that a technical communicator brings to a project by representing a special perspective.
Literacy is a major problem in America that affects our profession more than we may realize. A recent study sponsored by the U.S. Congress suggests that over half the U.S. population cannot read our writing. The literacy problem offers STC chapters a perfect opportunity to pool the best of their skills and to get involved in community- based projects. Our skills are exactly what are needed to help America attain one of its National Goals: 100% of all Americans will be literate by the year 2000. This workshop will help your chapter get active in giving something back through literacy training.