The course title “Professional and Technical Writing” caught my eye. I had a vague notion that professional writing meant writing for the “workplace” as opposed to academia, and I had no idea what technical writing meant. I thought it might mean writing instruction manuals for microwaves and televisions. I needed to complete another writing seminar for my graduation requirements and was interested in taking my first online class, so I enrolled. I am glad I did, but it has been a difficult course.
Cornelissen’s text was good start to the course. It was accessible for me as professional communication novice, but, accessibility aside, I was bothered by it. I do not like the practices of American corporations, and this text confirmed it. Before I read it, I assumed my distaste came from political and economic biases and a limited knowledge of how corporations function.
When the reading shifted to the theoretical discussion of professionalization, I was turned off at first. I did not make the connection between the readings and what I thought technical writing was and what this course would be. I wondered why we were reading past justifications of something that has already happened, the professionalization of technical communication. Reading Savage’s and Light’s articles helped create a significant shift in my thinking. To formulate any cogent thoughts on the readings, I had to make comparisons to my own work and profession to understand the stakes of professionalization, and those articles helped me do that.
Throughout the semester, I felt a lag between reading an article and understanding it. Generally, as I would read an article, I would have flashbacks of insight into the previous week’s reading. The Kline and Barker article had this same effect but for the entire semester. Their article compelled me to explore the “personas” in the TCBOK project, and I finally arrived at clarity about what technical writing is and the varied contexts in which it is practiced. In the end, even though it took the entire semester for me to feel like I was on solid ground with the material, the readings were well sequenced and helped me understand the subject matter.
Karsh and Alfred are both references I consider valuable and will occupy space on my book shelf for years to come.
My production in this course has been an up and down experience. I have enjoyed (after the fact, of course) being taken out of my comfort zone. I had never created my own blog, and I loved that experience. Posting a video of myself was not an assignment I relished but one that I am now thankful for because I appreciated watching everyone else’s.
I often struggled to formulate decent blog posts. I just did not know where or how to be appropriately critical with the subject matter, so I relied on the blogs of my classmates and Dr. Bridgeford for guidance. I think this dynamic is what I appreciated most about the online class experience. A traditional class facilitates the transfer of peer-to-peer knowledge and insight naturally, for lack of a better word. In the online format, I had to self-assess my own struggles and actively seek out the examples set by my classmates and professor. This was a good lesson for me to learn, and I am thankful for the particular cohort with whom I took this course.
I loved the job ad analysis assignment even though I did not execute it very well. It was a great challenge for me, and I am stillnot happy with my revision. My difficulty with this project demonstrates the one thing I would have liked more of in this course. More reading and instruction about rhetorical analysis of texts like job ads, especially from the perspective of document layout and design, would have helped me tremendously.
On the whole, working through this course has given me exactly what I wanted from it. I have new experience as a student in online only class. I have a solid understanding of what technical writing is and the contexts in which it is practiced. And, this course’s examination of professionalization allowed me to reflect in new ways about my own work and profession.