At the February meeting of the West of Scotland area group, we were joined by Dr John Lynn from the Department of Computing, Communication and Interactive Systems, within the School of Engineering & Built Environment, at Glasgow Caledonian University. Dr Lynn wished to gauge technical communicators’ views on a potential new degree course that would include an element of technical writing instruction, and afterwards provided the following meeting report.
“Staff within the School of Engineering and Built Environment have been involved in a ten-year industrial collaboration with the Thales Group (Thales Optronics, Glasgow), during which time they have researched the conversion of paper-based technical publications to that of interactive media. This has evolved from laptop-based solutions and optical media to the development of apps for the iPad and tablet devices. As part of this investigation, the themes of skills development for existing technical authors, and the effective use of multimedia and forms of remote maintenance support (augmented reality systems) were also discussed. Coming from an interactive media development perspective, and not a traditional discipline of technical authorship, the university staff are seeking to engage with practicing technical authors to gauge and shape a possible postgraduate award intended for full and part-time/work-based learning delivery. This would be seen as a course which may also appeal to graduates of various disciplines, and would therefore require an element of technical writing instruction, as well as the development of skills in the use of tools and media capture and preparation.
From the meeting with the West of Scotland group, it was of great value to hear the opinions and experiences of technical authors, and to try and describe the elements of study within a masters programme. However, what is also taken on board is the need for more communication with the wider technical writing community, to gauge the potential uptake of such an academic course, and how such a course could be made attractive to employers (graduate placement / live projects, etc.). We are grateful for access to the meeting in Glasgow, and would like the opportunity to further our planning process and evidence gathering, gratefully accepting any assistance and advice the members of the ISTC could offer. My personal thanks to Katja McLaughlin, for her invitation to submit this feedback.”