THIS IS AN ASYNCHRONOUS COURSE. The recording for each week's session will be opened on Monday morning. Students may view the recording at a time convenient for them. Homework assignments will be due on the day and time specified by the instructor. There will be two optional live sessions for students to ask the instructor questions in real time.
Kickstart Your TC Career
Technical communication is an exciting and challenging career that offers unlimited opportunity for professional development. But to succeed, it's not enough to learn a desktop publishing or Help authoring tool—you need to master the analysis process. This is a thinking person's dream career!
TechComm Fundamentals Bootcamp is the fastest, most efficient way to jump-start your career in technical communication. It covers key theory that you can immediately apply to your work. It also gives you the skills you need to continue to learn and grow.
Each element of theory is presented with hands-on exercises, real-world examples, and plenty of discussion. The course is sure to leave you feeling enthusiastic and well prepared to get started in the field.
- Understand the role of the technical communicator.
- Identify how TC writing differs from other kinds of writing.
- Correct common mistakes in writing.
- Master the correct writing style for TC.
- Be able to target your audience.
- Recognize and treat hazards in documentation.
- Learn and apply key theory for TC work.
- Start to build a professional portfolio.
- Develop visual design skills.
- Identify the purpose and key elements of main TC documentation types.
- Anyone new to the field.
- Anyone working in the field without formal training.
- Professionals returning to writing positions after a hiatus.
This session provides an overview of the role of technical communicators in a company. Learn how technical communication differs from other forms of writing. Discover how to avoid mistakes, such as grammar and punctuation issues, that can detract from documentation, and review grammar and punctuation issues.
This session covers these four key concepts:
- Know Your Audience: Conducting audience analysis and key techniques for discovering your target audience.
- Highlight Hazards: Protecting users and the company through effective cautions and warnings.
- Break It Out: Using design and layout to help communicate information in a document.
- Don’t Write Blind: Learning to ask the right questions and analyze information; learning the product yourself, plus understanding the project parameters before starting.
This session covers these five key concepts:
- Be Consistent: Understanding how consistency helps users.
- Signpost: Making information accessible within the document.
- Don’t Violate Standards: Analyzing standards and applying them.
- Contemplate Before You Illustrate: Adding graphics that help rather than confuse; a review of the basic rules.
- Cut the Fluff: Trimming the unnecessary content to improve usability.
This session covers how to write task-based documentation (step-by-step procedures), which is an essential core skill.
This session covers content design as a way of improving usability. This includes the PARCH principles of design, plus an understanding of the basics of layout (fonts, paragraphs, white space, chunking, plumb lines, visual hierarchies, nesting, and mating).
This session covers an overview of the most common deliverables in TC, plus how to create a Quick Start, which is a popular type of user documentation.
This session covers how to improve your editing skills plus how to start creating a professional portfolio.
FAQs for TechComm Fundamentals Bootcamp
Q: What kind of background do I need for this course?
A: This is an introductory course, so you don’t need to have specific course work or training. However, we expect you to be intelligent, have a decent general education (BA or BS), and have decent computer knowledge. If you are a complete novice at using a computer, this course is not appropriate for you.
Q: What kind of computer setup do I need?
A: A decent Internet connection for the live lectures and any DTP (desktop publishing) tool, such as MS Word, for doing the assignments. You can pretest your computer to make sure it is compatible with GoTo Webinar (the webinar platform used for the live lectures). This info will be sent to you a few days before the first lecture.
Q: What if I have problems connecting or getting into the lecture?
A: Contact the STC moderate (not the course instructor) if you have any issues connecting. During a lecture, you can always let us know through the questions/chat pane if you have lost audio or are experiencing other technical difficulties.
Q: I have questions about payment, billing, registration, etc.
A: Contact the STC office, not the course instructor! Try Claudia Ventura at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: How much time will I need for studying?
A: Each lecture is 90 minutes. In addition, you have weekly homework assignments. Most students spend 5–10 hours per week working on their homework. Some weeks may be very simple and others may be more complex. There is also a great deal of variation between students. But do plan to budget at least 7 hours per week (including the lecture time).
Q: What about the final exam?
A: This is an online, self-paced exam that opens after the end of the final homework. Your instructor will explain more during the last lecture. You do not need any special additional software or computer setup to take the final.
Q: How is the course graded?
A: Assignments are graded on absolutes (not a curve). You need at least 60 on each of the 7 assignments plus at least 60 on the final exam to receive a certificate. (Your grade percentage doesn’t appear on your certificate.)
Q: How hard is this course?
A: The course is similar to a graduate-level seminar. The expectations, pace, and workload are similar. Again, we assume that you are a responsible adult and will be responsible for your own workload and study time.
Q: Do people fail this course? What is the passing rate?
A: Yes, people fail. If participants don’t turn in the required work, they fail. They still get a certificate that says they attended the course, but not passed. However, we have never had someone do all the work and not pass. Current passing rate is 95%.
Q: What happens if I try the course for a few weeks and then decide that I don’t like it?
A: You may cancel your registration in the course up to the second session. You will receive a refund minus a $75 administrative fee. Course sizes are limited, so effectively, you took someone else’s spot. If there are extenuating circumstances that make it impossible for you to complete the current course, you can arrange to retake the course at a later date.
Q: What happens if I miss a lecture?
A: Hey, it happens. If you let the STC moderator know in advance, the session can be recorded and made available to you for a specific period. You are also encouraged to share notes with other students. You should be fine. However, if you know in advance that you are going to miss more than two live lectures, you might want to take the course another time.
Q: Why can’t I just listen to recordings for all lectures?
A: Recordings are not available automatically. This is because there is a lot of interaction that can take place during the lecture. We also know that if you are passively listening on your own, rather than interacting live, your attention (and retention) goes way down. For security reasons, we also do not make recordings available automatically.
Q: I am not a mother-tongue English speaker. Will this be a problem?
A: If your English is good enough to understand the course material and to produce appropriate homework, you will be fine. Many of our students are located outside of North America and they succeed and thrive at the same rates as native speakers.
Q: I think that I can write but I don’t remember all that grammar stuff. Is that a problem?
A: You will be expected to catch up. All students are responsible for catching up on any weak areas, whether it is basic grammar and punctuation or basic computer knowledge.
Q: I don’t like technology. Is that a problem?
A: Frankly, yes. You might want to rethink this as a career choice.
Q: How much feedback will I get?
A: You will get general feedback on your homework, but not a specific edited markup. In addition to the instructor feedback, you will have access to general feedback for the whole class, plus a forum in which to share notes and ideas with other students.
Q: Why can’t I see a corrected version of the final exam?
A: Simple security. If we released a corrected version, we would have to rewrite the exam for each class.
Q: Can I take another STC certificate course at the same time as this course?
A: We don’t recommend it. You need to focus on the material for this course.
Q: I have some special needs that make online training uncomfortable for me. Can this course be adapted for me?
A: Before you register for the course please contact STC at email@example.com to discuss to your requirements. We will consider the options available to make the course accessible for you.
Q: We have a team of five writers and we want all of them to take this course. Are there discounts for groups from one company?
A: Yes. We can also run the course as a private course for your employees only. Talk to the STC office about pricing.
Leah Guren entered the field of technical communication in 1980. Her experience as a writer, editor, tech pubs manager, and consultant allowed her to develop a variety of technical communication training programs. Leah trains new writers for this field, as well as conducting seminars and in-house training for TCs of all levels, engineers, and managers. Her clients include many of the top high-tech companies in Israel.
Leah is best known for her ability to bring dry theory to life, illustrating rules with real-life examples and providing clear, practical guidelines which can be applied by writers of all levels and experience. Leah is an STC Fellow and a regular speaker at STC and other international technical communication conferences. For more information, see Cow TC (www.cowtc.com) or contact Leah (firstname.lastname@example.org).