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Course Name
Certificate in Professional Technical Communication

Contact Hours: 140

Course Description
This Professional Technical Certificate is designed to help new and existing writers work within a range of styles specific to the field of technical writing. This program focuses on advancing writing styles and competencies that impact on technical written reports, project proposals, feasibility studies, website communication, presentations, manuals, and other forms of technical correspondence. A well-rounded technical writer should have knowledge and writing experience across these areas. 

It is likely that in one`s technical writing career you will be called upon to author or edit a particular text. By applying the principles that are taught in this course the student can extend their capacity to cover a wide range of projects. Just as importantly, you can gain a broad set of skills that will benefit every project you are assigned. The organizational skills required for a user guide, the attention to client guidelines required for a proposal, and the ability to weave in examples and interviews required for a technical magazine article can carry over into other types of writing. As a result of this course of study, students will end up with a well-defined portfolio of written technical documents. These can be added to or expanded after the class has ended.

All submitted work will be evaluated as per the guidelines stated in each lesson. An Official will be awarded upon satisfactory completion for a fee. No books are required for this course although there are ample links to multiple resources. Students may complete this program in an accelerated fashion.

This program requires that the student follow specific instructions for each lesson. We have been careful to communicate exactly what is expected. The student may turn in their first writing sample to make sure they are on the right track for development of a portfolio. Since each lesson hinges on the previous one, the same methodology applies. It is the final portfolio that will be reviewed and graded by the administrator of the course. 

Types of Document

Different types of technical documents require different skills. There is certainly much overlap in the required skills, but in general they are strongly emphasized in the following types of documents:

  • Proposals: persuasion, using data to make an argument, developing abstracts
  • Data Reports: presenting data visually, writing with parallel structure
  • Scientific Research: using citations, making abstracts concise
  • How-To Guides: doing task analysis, working with lists
  • User Guides: planning large documents, working with chapters
  • Instructional Material: developing sample scenarios, monitoring user performance
  • Articles: including real-world examples, being conversational with dense content
This course will look at these document types and explore the writing skills associated with each of them.

Methodology

Each lesson is carefully developed around the student`s ability to develop a baseline of written content that assumes some knowledge, little knowledge or no knowledge of the technical document they will be working on. Only after reading and applying the tips, techniques and grasping the fundamental and advanced techniques of writing to a specific area can the student of this course reapply this new knowledge to the baseline document. A comparison of the original baseline writing to the developed "treatment" document will allow the student of this program to fully grasp and apply the new knowledge gained to practical writing in the workplace.

This course can be completed in as little as 10-15 weeks or can be expanded up to 2-3 months.


Outcome
As a result of engaging in this course of study, all serious minded students will benefit in the following ways:
  • Plan writing projects with a strong understanding of the subject matter
  • Learn how to fit a focused strategy to your audience and purpose
  • Engage in both task and audience analysis
  • Learn how to revamp existing or new documents
  • Expand writing styles and abilities
  • Hone skills across a range of writing skill sets
  • Write like an expert and build upon marketable skills
  • Earn a highly recognized Professional Technical Completion Certificate Credential

Assessment
The Certificate in Professional Technical Communication requires that the student engage in independent and self-paced study. The instructional developer of this program has been careful to provide a detailed method of study. Self-directed quizzes and short answer probe questions are created to give the student a good sense of if they are on track with their learning objectives. These tasks are for student evaluation only.

In order to earn the official Certificate in Professional Technical Communication the student will be required to submit samples of completed work that will then be evaluated for accuracy and representative knowledge of the subject matter. More details regarding the process leading to the Certificate in Professional Technical Communication are described in detail in the course curriculum.


Outline
Lesson 1: Getting Started with Professional Technical Communication Projects

The goal of this lesson is to prepare for the writing projects that comprise each of the lessons that follow. You will see how to tailor your writing to a particular audience and purpose.

Objectives


When you have finished this lesson, you will be able to:
  • Plan a writing strategy for each lesson that follows
  • Write for a specific type of audience, such as business decision makers or technicians
  • Analyze a task to decompose it into steps for your reader
  • Identify the appropriate format and style for a project
  • Plan a document that is well-crafted, targeted and suited to your audience
Lesson 2: Write a Proposal

The goal of this lesson is to write a proposal that combines persuasive elements and factual presentation, to convince reviewers to award you a contract or buy your services.

Objectives


When you have finished this lesson, you will be able to:
  • Interpret the component parts for a request for proposal (RFP) document, to understand what to include in your proposal
  • Design a proposal with an attractive layout, including white space, art, tables, and headings
  • Write a proposal with an appropriate structure and style, based on the needs of the specific project and the standards followed in the industry
  • Make the logic of your proposal clear and persuasive
  • Revise proposals to make them more effective
Lesson 3: Write a Data Report

The goal of this lesson is to use data in your writing. Data can be numbers, presented in a table or interspersed in your text. It can also be displayed visually, in charts and graphs. The ideal presentation has numbers as well as visuals, and text that describes what the data mean.

Objectives

When you have finished this lesson, you will be able to:
  • Integrate charts and graphs into your writing, to reach readers visually and show data in a compact form
  • Use numbers in your writing to back up observations with fact and guide the reader through the data
  • Apply parallelism and consistent structure, to make it easy to follow your reasoning
  • Use the most common parts of a data report, including the abstract and results sections, to organize your information
  • Create a clear and effective data report
Lesson 4: Write a Research Paper

The goal of this lesson is to write for a type of audience that pursues new ideas and new knowledge. The audience may be academic, or it may be a professional group that wants to advance findings and debate in its field. Research writing requires a style that is brief and to the point, and which conforms to the highly specific requirements of the publication to which it is submitted.

Objectives


When you have finished this lesson, you will be able to:
  • Recognize the range of styles used in research writing, from objective to first-person
  • Create the major sections of a research report, from abstract to conclusion, with appropriate content
  • Use citations of other peoples’ research to support your thesis with established facts
  • Communicate with a readership that requires a very concise style of writing
  • Write a research paper for publication in a scholarly or professional journal
Lesson 5: Write a How-To Guide

The goal of this lesson is to write a how-to guide that can lead someone through a procedure from start to finish.

Objectives


When you have finished this lesson, you will be able to:
  • Focus on making your procedures easy to follow for all types of readers, including those with limited reading skills
  • Add graphic art to your text to illustrate your points, including such things as photos and charts
  • Use formatting and layout for emphasis and readability, with emphasis on important points and ample white space
  • Use simple verb forms, with as many verbs as possible in the simple present form, to improve readability
  • Analyze a task to create a list of steps for completing it
  • Write a procedure that is easy to follow
Lesson 6: Write a User Guide, Part 1: Plan a Large Writing Project

The goal of this lesson is to get started writing a user guide that helps someone understand a complex product. In this lesson, you will plan the flow of your document based on the work flow of someone using the product. In a later lesson, you will fill in one section of the user guide with content.

Objectives


When you have finished this lesson, you will be able to:
  • Do a task analysis tobreak down any procedure into its parts
  • Structurecontent into chapters and sections to give readers appropriately sized units
  • Align your chapters with the subject matter so that the flow of the book follows the flow of the work
  • Understand the features that distinguish a chapter from other types of section
  • Create an outline for a user guide
Lesson 7: Write a User Guide, Part 2: Describe a User Interface

The goal of this lesson is to write content for a user guide. You will complete one section of the outline you created in the previous lesson, when you planned the structure of a large user guide.

Objectives


When you have finished this lesson, you will be able to:
  • Guide the user towards practical outcomes in completing their tasks
  • Make good use of lists, for procedural steps and materials
  • Describe the features of the product you are documenting
  • Use graphic layout and art effectively
  • Create a typical section of a user guide
Lesson 8: Write Instructional Material

The goal of this lesson is to write instructional material that develops a user’s skills or knowledge.

Objectives


When you have finished this lesson, you will be able to:
  • Plan a training program that satisfies the needs of your students and meets clear objectives
  • Develop examples of procedures that use realistic details
  • Design exercises that allow students to practice procedures
  • Evaluate student progress in learning new skills with quizzes and tests
  • Choose an optimal delivery method for training, whether digital or in-person
  • Write curriculum for a training program
Lesson 9: Write Magazine Articles

The goal of this lesson is to write a magazine article that conveys technical information in an engaging way for a general audience.

Objectives


When you have finished this lesson, you will be able to:
  • Write a story in a format that makes it newsworthy and easy to read quickly
  • Blend numbers and anecdotal information and accounts, to strike a balance between general facts and specific experiences
  • Incorporate case histories into articles to illustrate points with real-world examples
  • Strategize for working with subject matter experts by understanding what motivates technical experts to share their knowledge
  • Write a short magazine article that, with development, might be publishable
  • Align your chapters with the subject matter so that the flow of the book follows the flow of the work
  • Understand the features that distinguish a chapter from other types of section
  • Create an outline for a user guide