Technical Communication: Foundations Prof. Q Overview • • • • • • • Defining Technical Communications Features and Purposes Types of Documents Teamwork and Global Issues The Research Process Audience and Purpose Ethics About Technical Communication • The exchange of information that helps people interact with technology, advance workplace goals, and solve complex problems. • Day-to-day questions: ▫ How do I set up my new technology? ▫ How do I attach a document to an e-mail? • Workplace questions: ▫ What is our competition doing? ▫ What new technologies should our company adopt? • Specialized questions: ▫ What are the technical limits to wind energy? ▫ Do the benefits of new vaccienes outweigh their risks? About Technical Documents • • • • • Reader-Based Task-Oriented Context-Sensitive Design-Based Written, Visual, Digital, and Oral Features of Technical Communicatin • • • • • • • • Focus on reader Efficient and accessible Clear and relevant Uses media effectively Created by both individuals and teams Targets a global audience Persuasive and Truthful Based on research Typical Forms of User-Centered Communication • • • • • Instructions (How to’s) User Manuals (Detailed Instructions and Warnings) Reports (Analyze an Issue) Memos (Answer Questions) Procedures (Comply with Regulations) Balancing Persuasion and Information • Deliver usable information • Consider how to get the desired response Purpose of Technical Communication • To inform (Sample document on P. 9) • To instruct (Sample document on P. 11) • To persuade (Sample document on P. 13) Common Types of Technical Documents • • • • • • • • • Memos – Internal Communication E-Mails – General Communications Letters – Personal Communications, Paper Trail Instructions – Explain Steps (Tasks) Procedures – Explain Steps (Policy) Manuals – Comprehensive Instructions Brochures – Give Information Proposals – Offer Solutions Reports – Analyze Problems Activity • Find a technical document from your field and evaluate using the checklist below. Teamwork, Ethics, Persuasion, and Global Issues in Technical Communication Strategies for Organizing a Team Project • • • • • • • • • • • Appoint a group manager Define a clear and definite goal Identify the type of document required Divide the tasks Establish a timeline Decide on a meeting schedule Establish a procedure for responding to each other’s work Select a group decision-making style Decide how to evaluate each member’s contribution Prepare a project planning form Submit regular progress reports Strategies for Running a Meeting • • • • • • • • • • Set an agenda Ask each person to prepare as needed Appoint a different observer for each meeting Begin by summarizing the minutes from last meeting Give all members a chance to speak Stick to the issue Keep things moving Observe, guide, and listen Summarize major points before calling a vote End the meeting on schedule Technology and Team Projects E-mail IM Project Management Software “The Cloud” Digital Whiteboards Web Conferencing Other technology • • • • Teleconferencing Blogs Intranets Wikis Identifying Group Conflicts • Gender differences • Cultural differences • Interpersonal differences Dealing with conflict • • • • • • • • Listen actively Avoid gender and cultural bias Research cultures other than your own Give everyone a chance to be heard Take everyone’s feelings and opinions seriously Don’t be afraid to disagree Offer and accept constructive criticism Find points of agreement with those who hold different views • When the group does make decisions, support it fully Class Activity – General Application • Find an example of technical communication in your field. • Explain where teamwork was important and why. The Research Process in Technical Communication Thinking Critically About Research • Think about your audience. • Think about the rhetorical situation. • Think about authorship. • Think about authorial intent. Strategies for Thinking About Research • Ask the Right Questions – Don’t be overly broad or too narrow. • Explore a Balance of Views – Don’t just rely on one expert. • Explore your Topic in Depth – Show knowledge of your topic. • Evaluate your Sources – Make sure you have reliable information. • Interpret your Findings Objectively – Try to show lack of bias. Using Primary Sources • • • • • Interviews Surveys Observations Events Processes in action Using Secondary Sources • • • • • • • • Blogs Wikis Web pages Books Articles Magazines Photographs Recordings Consider table 3.1 on page 44. Tips for Research Using the Internet • • • • • Expect limited results from any one search engine. When using a search engine, use varied queries. Consider the domain name and the site’s author. Identify the site’s purpose and sponsor. Look beyond the style of a site, and assess the currency of the materials. • Save what you need. • Remember to be ethical on your research. Types of Internet Sources • Websites ▫ ▫ ▫ ▫ • • • • • .com .gov .edu .org Magazines and Journals Blogs Wikis Forums, BBS systems, and Mailing Lists E-libraries Types of Hard-Copy Sources • Books • Periodicals Group Activity • Identify at least eight reliable and valid sources of information related to your company’s focus.