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Technical Writing Training Can Make You a Better Teacher

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Not just for professionals in the tech industry, technical writing training can make you a better teacher by imparting a number of valuable skills that are sure to improve your performance in the classroom.

The Purpose of Technical Writing

For those who are unfamiliar with the term, technical writing involves taking difficult and complicated ideas and presenting them in an easy-to-understand format. This usually takes the form of writing manuals for machines, software or other types of technology, but other examples include designing a 'Frequently Asked Questions' section for a website or drafting a list of assembly instructions for a product.

technical writing

Technical writing has grown to increased prominence as technology becomes more complicated. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 10 percent growth in technical writing jobs in the next decade, which serves as proof of this talent's relevance in the workplace.

Though technical writing may seem like a skill intended solely for professionals in the workplace, learning more about this topic can serve you well in the classroom. By learning more about technical writing, you can turn yourself into a better teacher by becoming a more effective communicator, connecting with your audience, and improving your research skills.

Audience Analysis

According to most training courses, good technical writing must take into account the audience of the report. This can include knowing the members' background, education level, needs, interests, and other demographic characteristics. As a teacher, you already know most (or all) of these traits in your students, so you already have a head start. Where technical writing training becomes especially helpful, however, is in the adaptive measures that it teaches.

The mark of any good technical document is its ability to modify and adapt its content to ensure that its audience will understand what is being said. This can include:

  • Removing information that the audience already knows;
  • Spending extra time on a topic with which the audience is unfamiliar;
  • Adding examples to provide your audience with a practical application of a topic;
  • Using unique formatting (headings, lists, short paragraphs, etc.);
  • Employing images, graphics, and visuals to help explain a concept.

As you may have noticed, these are all tactics and methods that would work equally well in the classroom. As an added bonus, you already possess knowledge of your students and their various skill levels, which makes it even easier to use the strategies that technical writing training espouses. Using these techniques, you can write copy and create content that your students are sure to understand with little difficulty.

happy students

Improved Research Skills

As you learn more about technical writing, you can expect to encounter plenty of training when it comes to performing proper research. This technical writing course at the University of Toledo, for example, lists research skills as one of its primary learning outcomes and most other courses include similar objectives. Technical writers often encounter esoteric topics, and they need to know how to find information to provide clarity on these topics. When you take a technical writing course, your research skills are bound to improve.

The benefits of having strong research skills are almost innumerable, especially for a teacher. Whether you're designing lesson plans, helping a student with a project, or just seeking to enrich your own personal knowledge, knowing how to conduct quick and effective research is absolutely essential. Not only will these skills allow you to discern and identify credible information, but also they will save you time and help you avoid more dubious sources of information.

classroom research

Learning how to conduct proper research also develops a number of secondary skills that will serve teachers well. Skills like problem-solving, critical analysis, and reading comprehension will all improve as a result of extensive research, and each of these talents can also be of enormous benefit when working with students.

Better Classroom Directions

Yet another key tenet of any technical writing class is the importance of clear and concise writing. Information in the 21st century moves at a rapid rate, and you'll need to be an efficient communicator in order to keep up with the speed of modern communication. Technical writing helps teach these skills and shows students how to write short and effective sentences that can be understood by just about anyone, be they an expert or a novice.

In addition to being useful in the workplace, this practice can also be applied in the classroom. When introducing your students to new and challenging concepts, a set of well-written and easily understood directions can be extremely useful in providing clarity. A lengthy explanation appears intimidating and may hinder your students, but with the skills learned through technical writing training, you can provide brief and simple instructions that will keep your students focused and help them understand a task.

happy student and teacher

Though technical writing may seem like an area reserved solely for professional applications in the workplace, this particular skill can also be of great use to educators in the classroom. Through the development of important skills such as research and communication, training in this subject is certain to make you a better overall teacher.

By Bill Sands
May 2017
teachers teacher professional development

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