Rethinking Instructional Scaffolding

This article is a collaboration with Dr. Dori Coblentz, third-year Brittain Fellow in the Writing and Communication Program at Georgia Tech. It is the first part in a series on the development and implementation of an interactive ethics training module for Georgia Tech’s first-year composition and computer science students. When… Continue reading

The Spring 2019 CS Junior Design Capstone Expo: a Recap and Interview with Amanda Girard and Alyshia Jackson

This is the seventh part in a series on the intersections of technical communication in the tech industry and the academy. Read the series introduction here. Recently the College of Computing and the School of Literature, Media, and Communication (LMC) sponsored the Spring 2019 Computer Science Junior Design Capstone Expo…. Continue reading

From First Year Comp to Tech Comm (and Beyond): an Interview with Dori Coblentz

Inside a studio a group of people in fencing attire stand around a lecturer who is describing a fencing technique.

This is the fifth part in a series on the intersections of technical communication in the tech industry and the academy. Read the series introduction here. As former Brittain Fellow Kate Holterhoff has detailed in this post on her move from teaching to software development (and as my own career… Continue reading

Public Tech Comm: Preparing Students for Tech Expos

Rows of lunchboxes are lined up on a table. Each box has a label with the words "Junior Design Capstone Expo" and an image of two people trying virtual reality technology.

This is the fourth part in a series on the intersections of technical communication in the tech industry and the academy. Read the series introduction here. One of the more interesting aspects of the Computer Science Tech Comm Course sequence at Georgia Tech is how it evolves from semester to… Continue reading

(Re)designing the Instructional Artifact: The Poetry Machine Project

In the 2017-18 academic year I executed a lively experiment integrating poetry into LMC 3403, a traditional technical communication course at Georgia Tech as the direct result of receiving a Poetry@Tech pedagogy development grant. Technical communication is defined by Elizabeth Tebeaux and Sam Dragga as writing “that occurs in a… Continue reading

On Conferences in Academia and the Tech Industry

On stage at the Container Power Hour session at the 2018 AWS re:Invent conference. The session agenda is projected on a screen to the left; the session presenters are seated on stage to the right.

This is the third part in a series on the intersections of technical communication in the tech industry and the academy. Read the series introduction here. For me, January 2019 was bookended with conferences. I started the month (and year) with a trip to Chicago for the 2019 Modern Language… Continue reading

Georgia Tech’s CS Tech Comm & Junior Design Sequence

This is the second part in a series on the intersections of technical communication in the tech industry and classroom. Read the series introduction here. One (but by no means the only) path to a career in software development is through an undergraduate degree in Computer Science (CS). For most… Continue reading

Intersections of Tech Comm in the Tech Industry and Classroom

An intersection at night. Exposure techniques render passing cars as streams of light.

I was a Brittain Fellow at Georgia Tech from Fall 2016 until this past August, when I accepted a full time job at RedMonk, a developer-focused tech industry analyst firm. Because the job offer came in days before the Fall 2018 semester started, I had concerns about the timing: I… Continue reading

Information Overload, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Social Media

The longer I teach, the more aware I become of a growing ideological separation between myself and my students. It’s not that I’m morphing into an out-of-touch, elbow patch-wearing professor (OK, I do have elbow patches), but there is definitely a widening divide, and over time, I’ve come to realize… Continue reading

Debugging the Gender Gap: Questioning Stereotypes in the Tech Comm Classroom

On Tuesday, March 14, Georgia Tech hosted a screening of the documentary CODE: Debugging the Gender Gap. The 2015 film, which played at various film festivals and tech events such as the 2015 Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, examines the lack of gender diversity in the American software… Continue reading

“Should I Go to Work?”: On Participating in A Day Without Women

On the morning of March 8, 2017, I, like many women around the country (and perhaps the world) faced a particular question: should I go to work? On this particular day, the question was triggered by International Women’s Day and its attendant call for a women’s strike. Named “A Day… Continue reading

The Office Hour, Chapter 18: “Britt History 1 (The Future)”

Toby takes over the podcast this week, in the first installment of a three-part series in which we address the past, present, and future of the Marion L. Brittain Postdoctoral Fellowship. In this episode, he interviews Brittain Fellow Halcyon Lawrence about her background and research in information design and experiences… Continue reading

Using Video Games in the Technical Communication Classroom

The 21st Century developments in technology, integrated national and internal economies, and workforce demographics create the expectation that the workplace will be a space in which workers are actively learning, developing competencies, and acquiring skills throughout the duration of their professional lives. In response to this future, instructors must envision… Continue reading

“The Language of Tech Comm: Teaching Technical Communication From a Humanities Perspective.”

On Tuesday, February 18, from 11-12 PM in Hall 102, the Communication Colloquium presents “The Language of Tech Comm: Teaching Technical Communication From a Humanities Perspective.” LMC 3403: Technical Communication is a course that places an emphasis on workplace communication and that helps third- and fourth-year undergraduates learn strategies necessary for creating… Continue reading

Even If You’re Cool, You Should Ask

Students rarely glide or gambol into a campus communication center.  There is no samba line to sentence reconstruction.  The run-up to their appearance at the door is pretty simple: they have an assignment looming that entails stringing words together; they need coaching to create a presentation that won’t lead to… Continue reading

The Importance of Team-Based Learning and Multivector Interaction in the Technical Communication Classroom

Even though the course I am teaching this spring semester has the same name and number as the one I taught in the fall—LMC 3403: Technical Communication in Theory and Practice—the two classes couldn’t be much more different. For starters, last semester was my first at Georgia Tech and also… Continue reading

Tech Comm Seminar 11/26: Service Learning

James Gregory and Christina Van Houten will lead discussion on service learning and technical communication; in this seminar, we’ll also open up our discussion to issues of case studies, portfolios, and pseudotransactionality. Required Reading includes: Chris Ritter’s TechSTYLE post: http://techstyle.lmc.gatech.edu/?p=3841 Ann M. Blakeslee, “Bridging the Workplace and the Academy: Teaching Professional Genres… Continue reading

Tech Comm Seminar 11/05: Digital Literacy and Social Media

Jason W. Ellis and Olga Menagarishvili will lead a discussion on digital literacy and social media issues for technical communicators in this week’s seminar. How does digital literacy in general and social media more specifically figure into the Technical Communication classroom? Should we challenge our Technical Communication students to be more… Continue reading

Tech Comm Seminar 10/29: Single-Sourcing and User Experience Issues

Jason W. Ellis and Rachel Mahan will lead a discussion on single-sourcing and user experience issues for this week’s seminar. While technical communication often focuses on software technologies, those same technologies influence and shape what technical communication is and how technical communication is done. A specific area of pedagogical interest… Continue reading

Tech Comm Seminar 10/8: Visual Literacy, Visual and Information Design

James Gregory and Rachel Mahan will lead Monday’s Tech Comm Seminar discussion on visual literacy, visual design, and information design. We would like you to read and watch the following: “What is Information Design?” Janice C. Redish (pp. 211-17 in Teaching Technical Communication) From “The Vocabulary of Comics” Scott McCloud… Continue reading

Tech Comm Seminar 9/17: The “Soul” of Business and Technical Communication — and Academia

In this seminar session, Dr. Patrick McHenry and Dr. Andy Frazee will lead discussion on the “soul” of business and technical communication; in so doing, the seminar will also discuss the “soul” of academia. What is our responsibility as teachers and academics to the workplaces our students are going into?… Continue reading

A Letter to Students and Clients – Drawing Lessons from Failure in a Service Learning Classroom

As a client-based course, my technical communication class at Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta functions like a hybrid between a college class and a consulting firm, with the students working in teams to compose websites, marketing strategies, reports, manuals, and a variety of other artifacts for local nonprofits and small businesses. Continue reading

Visual Rhetoric in Tech Com

This week we’ll cover the issue of visual rhetoric in technical communication. We begin with an article by Greenzweig  who discusses “the ways in which visual composition contributes to a user’s aesthetic experience and why such an experience is important when designing information structures.” We continue with McCloud’s chapter in… Continue reading