My first class in the BCIT Technical Writing program was Thursday night. Not quite having a perfect idea of how long it would take to walk from my apartment to the downtown campus I left about an hour early, walking through a light rain while listening to the CBC's Q podcast to hear an interview with John Hodgman about his new book More Information Than You Require. I brought my Macbook, not quite sure what the computer setup would be, and used to taking notes on a laptop from my OUC days.
The classroom was basically a computer lab, so it had all the computers we needed. I kept notes of the class in Evernote [en], so that I can access them from my iPhone or back home on my Macbook. It's a fairly new facility, at least fairly new in terms of the Canadian post-secondary scene. The computers are all Windows boxes, but they've got some programs specifically for technical writing types that I don't have on my Mac, so I'll be using them for the in-class work and my Macbook for the homework (which hopefully will all be doable in Microsoft Word).
The first class that I had was actually the second last course in the program (description below). Everyone else is one or two classes away from graduating, and the instructor seemed a little concerned by the fact that I had none of the previous courses under my belt. I'm trying to make up for the fact that I might have gotten in over my head by talking a lot in class to get the participation marks.
Truthfully I think I'll be okay, the concepts so far have not been anything incredibly new it's just putting slightly outdated terminology onto things that most people who've made any money writing on-line do anyway. Read through the course description and if you've got no idea what the course is about, then I'll be honest and tell you before my first class neither did I.
COMM 2207 - Single-Sourcing for Technical Writers: Single-sourcing and content management are sweeping technical writing. Yet, they are generally misunderstood. This course introduces the principles of content management, information modeling and single-sourcing and discusses their advantages and demands. The course walks students through the process of creating a single-sourced project from planning to completion, using an industry standard single-sourcing tool.
What the hell is that? Well contrary to what I thought that Single-Sourcing was, it's basically re-purposing material for other projects. So if you write how to change the battery in a Macbook for Macbook's instruction manual, it can also be put on-line, or used for how to change the batter in a Macbook Pro. Fairly dry, yes.
Tomorrow I've got the second of the two courses that I'm taking this session. It's one of the starter courses, so hopefully I'll be able to cope.
COMM 1008 - Technical Editing and Grammar: COMM 1008 familiarizes students with the role of professional editors in the contemporary workplace and introduces the principles, symbols and methods of copyediting and substantive editing. Students will spend a significant percentage of class time practicing their editing skills and fine tuning their understanding of grammar and mechanics. The course will help to prepare students for a typical competency test required by many employers for professional writing positions.