Archive for the ‘Pedagogy’ Category

This summer, I will be teaching technical and professional writing. I teach this course differently than most, and I think my method works pretty well. Some people involve the students directly with real companies, which I appreciate. But my method involves on the one hand much less direct involvement but on the other much more flexibility.

What I do is give the students a simulation of a company, give them problems to solve, and teach them to communicate while solving these problems. Once they have a grip on that, they write something that I am confident all of them going into the business field will eventually have to write: a business plan.

This semester, I’m making some minor changes. (more…)

Thus far, when I have worked on developing classes, I have been doing so with four classes in mind: Rhetoric of Evil, Rhetoric of Science Fiction, Future Technology Pedagogy, and Systems and Rules. I’ve come up with basic reading lists (though I have to add Foucault and de Certeau to the Systems/rules class), goals, and so on. But I realized that I need to put some of these ideas on the back burner for a while. (more…)

I realized recently that I need to plan out a class for the summer. I’m teaching Technical and Professional writing, which I taught last fall. But I can’t run the course exactly the same; now I have two and a half hour meetings twice a week.

And besides, I learned a lot about how to do it last semester, and I want to improve.

So I’ll start with the simple things that I have, the goals and basic structure. The goals of the class, as I see them, are to teach students how to communicate in a professional setting, and to prepare them for the business world as far as communication is concerned. What does that mean? (more…)

Tomorrow at a god awful hour of the morning, I board a plane that, through a series of other destinations, will eventually get me to San Francisco. At least, that’s the plan-there’s a chance the snow will decide otherwise. But most likely, I’m off to the C’s.

This is not my first conference, but it is one of the scariest. It’s without a doubt the biggest conference I’ve ever been to. So I’ve done more preparation for this than I have for any other conference. I may even have a power point presentation (though I am limiting myself to 7 slides, including a title screen).

In the meantime, though, I wanted to get back to my ‘class planning’ project.

Last time around, I came up with course goals. The next step is reading lists. (more…)

On Great Writing

Posted: February 6, 2009 in Pedagogy, Readings, Review, School, writing

I have more to say about my own stuff, but first I wanted to talk about a nice little book that I just read. It’s called On Great Writing (On the Sublime) and is by this guy named Longinus. No, not the Roman soldier who supposedly stabbed Jesus on the cross. I mean Longinus, the writing teacher. I’m pretty sure they’re different people.

I’m being a bit flippant here. On Great Writing is an incredible book, and fantastically important. So much so that I’m amazed it has taken me this long to be exposed to it.  (Though I suppose if I’d ever had a copy of Rhetorical Tradition I would’ve seen it). This book, short as it is (58 pages of text, the Grube translation) very quickly establishes itself and shows why it has been so influential for so many thinkers. (more…)

Okay. Let’s talk course goals.

The way I figure it, the first step to designing a course is to figure out what the course is about. What it’s teaching. Once I know what I want to impart, what I want to talk about, I can start working up a reading list and group of assignments to ensure that the message gets across.

For the sake of ease, I’m going to try to come up with three main goals for each of my potential classes. Once again, those potential classes are:

  1. Rhetoric of Evil
  2. Rhetoric of Science Fiction
  3. Rules and Loopholes
  4. Future technology in the classroom

Starting from the top then: (more…)

The semester has begun, and while I have not yet actually been to any classes, I am doing my best to dive into work regardless. This semester, I am doing research rather than teaching. This is a definite change of pace for me. Over the next day or so, I intend to sequester myself in a library and begin discovering everything anyone has ever said about the topic I am researching.

In the meantime, since I’m not teaching, I have been thinking about it.

(more…)

Plans for preparation

Posted: November 17, 2008 in Brainstorm, Pedagogy, School, writing

My exams are coming up. Slowly. In fact, very slowly. I will have to take them around this time two years from now. But it’s not too early to start planning.

I bring this up because I’ve been working on annotated bibliographies lately. Which was difficult, because I don’t feel like I’ve ever really learned how to write them. What goes in the annotations?

This is a question answered during an undergraduate career, normally. So once in graduate school, it’s expected (fairly) that one would know how to do this. The problem is that annotations are different field to field. So I’ve had to essentially work blindly, hoping to get things right.

While doing so, I’ve talked to a lot of people about the purpose of annotations. Apparently, I’m not the only one who feels uncertain about what goes in them. (more…)

The Presentation

Posted: November 6, 2008 in Methods, Pedagogy, School

Well, the presentation went well. I was originally going to present what was written in the previous post. In fact, I printed it off. But before we got to the presentations, Laura Gurak talked to us about case studies, and about the difficulty of finding one little thing. While she was talking, an idea came to me. An idea that is small enough that I can get set up by the end of the semester, but that still informs my project at large. (more…)

In this, the second post for reading this week, I will pick up exactly where I left off, with the forthcoming article by Lee-Ann Kastman Breuch titled A Work in Process: A study of the Development of Single-Source Documentation and Document Review Processes of Cardiac Devices. This article is a report on an ethnographic study (technically a case study, actually) of a writing team at a biomedical company as they transitioned over to what is called single sourcing. Basically, the way I understand it, single sourcing is where writers create a series of ‘topics’ that are then selectively chosen based on relevance for individual manuals for products, so that manuals can make more sense and be more usable, so that 230 topics could contribute to 100 manuals, rather than a single unwieldy 500 page manual (8).

Writing these topics is a collaborative exercise where feedback is given from outside readers (4), so “technical writers must negotiate social tensions and conflict as they work with others to create single source documents” (3). This means that writers had to work with people who were non-writers but experts in the field and try to develop a single document that everyone approved of. I can imagine the tension. (more…)