Professional Sequence in Technical Communication Online Information Session


Hello! Welcome to our Online Information Session! My name is Liz McDonough, and I am the program
director for the Professional Sequence in Technical Communication, as well as our other
writing and editing programs here at UC Berkeley Extension. We’ll begin by talking about the expanding
need for technical communication professionals and how our program will prepare you for a
career in this exciting field, or enable you to advance in your current position. You’ll also learn how you can get started
taking the courses. If you have any questions during this presentation,
please go ahead and send them in; we’ll do our best to answer your questions as we
go through the presentation. So let’s get started! Technical communication plays a vital role
in bridging the gap between those who create new ideas or products and those who must understand
how to put those products or ideas to use. Daily decisions are made regarding technical
information, from installing and testing equipment on systems large and small, to understanding
medical procedures or research, to financial policies for homes and businesses, government
regulations, and more. The work of the technical communicator is
to work with designers or ‘creators’ in order to understand how to best explain products
and procedures to end users through precise language and illustrations. They prepare instruction manuals, fact sheets,
standard operating procedures, white papers, and other supporting documents to communicate
complex and technical information more easily. Increasingly, technical information is being
delivered online and through social media. Technical writers are using the interactive
technologies of the Web and social media to blend text, graphics, multidimensional images,
sound, and video. Employment of technical writers is projected
to grow 11 percent from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations. Employment growth will be driven by the continuing
expansion of scientific and technical products. The growing reliance on technologically sophisticated
products in the home and the workplace and the increasing complexity of medical and scientific
information that consumers demand will create many new job opportunities for technical writers,
in industries related to scientific research and design services, insurance carriers and
computer systems design. Growth and change in the high-technology and
electronics industries will result in a greater need for those who can write instruction manuals
and communicate information clearly to users. Professional, scientific, and technical services
firms are expected to continue to grow rapidly and should be a good source of new jobs even
as the occupation finds acceptance in a broader range of industries. So how can you take advantage of this growing
need? Technical communicators need strong writing
and editing skills and a good eye for detail. Combining those skills with our professional
sequence, provides you with the knowledge and skills to meet the market demand in this
wide-ranging field. I want to point out that this program is suitable
for both career-changers and technical communicators who wish to continue their professional development. Some students come to the program with certain
technical skills or technical communication backgrounds, and others with little or no
experience. In both cases, our students are seeking a
credential of some kind to demonstrate their knowledge and training. So, how can UC Berkeley Extension help you
achieve your career goals and become more competitive in this growing field? UC Berkeley Extension is the continuing education
division of UC Berkeley, the flagship campus of the University of California. Since 1891, we’ve been assisting students
in reaching their professional goals and accomplishments. We offer more than 65 professional certificates
and specialized programs, and more than 2,000 classroom and online courses, with 45,000
enrollments each year. We pride ourselves on academic excellence. All of our courses and instructors are approved
by the appropriate campus department. Our instructors, most of whom work in the
field, also bring their real-world experience to the classroom. So, when you enroll in a UC Berkeley Extension
course, you are guaranteed a real-world, professional, Berkeley-quality education. So, let’s dive right into the program details. Again, there are no prerequisites to beginning
the program, except having proficient writing and editing skills and an attention to detail. The curriculum for this program is comprised
of 4 required courses; each is a 2-unit, 12-week online course. This comes to a total of 8 semester units
and 120 hours of instruction. You might be wondering, how much time will
I be spending on my studies? As a general guideline, for every hour spent
in the online classroom, you should expect to spend at least two hours outside of class
time reading and completing assignments, etc. On average, students tell us they put in from
6-8 hours per week, sometimes more during exams or final project periods. Most students complete the certificate in
four semesters – or a little over a year – but you have up to three years after registering
for the program to finish all of your courses. The required courses are listed here and we
do ask that you take them in the order that they are listed. This is because the courses are designed to
build on top of each other. You’re going to be learning new skills at
each level that will help you understand and grasp the material of the next course in the
sequence. The curriculum begins with a grammar refresher,
which will cover common grammatical errors that copy editors encounter, such as verb
and subject agreement issues, word usage, sentence structure, punctuation, numbering
conventions and more. Contrary to a high composition class, this
course provides you with important experience in line editing various types of writing and
the skills to make the writing of others clearer and more succinct. In Technical Communication I and II, you develop
your writing and presentation skills and learn how to use information design to both interpret
and produce effective technical documentation such as manuals, reports, feasibility studies,
proposals and web content. Ultimately, you learn how to use information
design to inform, instruct, and persuade your audience. At the end of these two courses, you’ll
have improved your technical writing style and technique while creating writing samples
and graphic elements for a variety of print and online presentations. And then in the fourth class, Visual Design
for Technical Communication, you deepen your knowledge of basic design principles introduced
in Technical Communication I & II and learn how to apply those principles to a wide range
of visual elements used in books, reports, brochures, webpages, databases, multimedia
presentations and training programs. All the while, you’re creating pieces to
put together a professional portfolio, which you can use to show your current employer
or a future boss of your proficiency in technical communication. Once you complete our program, you’ll have
gained the skills to Understand the role of technical communicators
and technical documentation in the workplace. Discuss the rhetorical and design principles
underlying information architecture. Demonstrate an ability to present qualitative,
quantitative and visual information in technical communication. Apply critical thinking, electronic research,
planning, and outlining to technical writing. Develop a clear and concise technical writing
style based on best practices in the field. Write various proposals, reports, feasibilities
studies, instructions, specifications and standard operating procedures. Demonstrate technical copyediting proficiency
with the use of style manuals and style sheets. Understand the value of ethical practice and
legal issues at stake in the field of technical communication. So who will be teaching you the ins and outs
of technical communication? You’ll learn from instructors who are professionals
in their field, skilled experts deeply vested in your success! They are passionate about sharing their knowledge
with you and helping you achieve your professional and career goals. They bring to the classroom concepts that
illuminate the topics and real-world examples from their job experience. Arun Nevader has taught Technical Communication
at Berkeley since 2000. He focuses on an industry related approach
to the field with an emphasis on information design. Currently, Arun is working on curriculum development
for this program. Aside from his teaching, Arun works as a press
photographer for Getty Images. He has covered major fashion weeks and film
festival events since 2001. Another long-time instructor is Barbara Magalnick,
who is a seasoned editor and a published writer with more than 20 years of experience with
books, articles, speeches, monographs, abstracts, pamphlets, slide kits and other materials. She has taught English and English as a Second
Language in the United States and abroad. Because so many of our students are working
professionals who want Berkeley’s academic quality, we offer this program completely
online so that you can continue to work while you study. All four courses are offered in the fixed-date
format, which means that the class has a set start and end date—in the same way as a
classroom course. Each fixed date course runs for 12 weeks. Our online courses do not require you to be
at your computer at any given time—you can log on to your computer and do your coursework
at 11 pm in your pajamas if you are so inclined. All of your assignments and exams are submitted
and returned to you electronically. Your materials are always available to you
and the courses are facilitated by an instructor. So as you work your way through each module,
the instructor will facilitate discussion on what you just learned. Your instructor will give you assignments
to complete and other classroom activities to engage in, including group discussions,
forum posts and instructor-posed questions, all of which help to reinforce what you are
learning , and provide you with opportunities to interact with your fellow classmates. Earning the Award of Completion is a simple
3-step process. First, register for the program. It’s fine to try the first course – Grammar,
Mechanics and Usage – prior to officially enrolling in the certificate. This way, you can see how you like this style
of learning and then decide whether to continue. But we do recommend that you register for
the program before starting your second course in the sequence. Then, complete all of the required courses
with a grade of C or better within the 3-year time period. Probably one of the biggest benefits is that
you pay as you go. You don’t pay for the entire program at once. You pay for each course one at a time. Prices vary based on each course, but in total,
the cost is approximately 3,000. If you compare to other institutions in the
market place, you’ll find that this is an extremely competitive price. Finally, once you’ve completed all of your
courses, you’ll receive your award of completion. Many of you are wondering, “What do graduates
from this program go on to do?” Many of our instructors share stories of former
students who have landed positions. We are always excited to hear from those who
have gone on to secure a foothold in the industry after completing the program. Here are a couple of our recent graduates
and their current positions: Sreevani Sreejith started her career as a
software engineer at Samsung Telecom America. After a few years, she took a short career
break and re-emerged with a career change to technical writing. And then came the technical writing gigs at
eBay, Apple and Google. Despite this impressive work experience, Sreevani
felt that she needed to add a bit more credibility to her resume. So she signed up for our technical communication
program. Today, Sreevani is contracting at Google in
the Android Developer Documentation team. She’s told us that this certification and
learning experience helped her to get shortlisted for that position. Morgan Ashton used this program to add to
his operations experience at Charles Schwab. He has years of experience working in the
software development lifecycle and now has the knowledge to write requirements specifications
and test planning and creating supporting documentation for training and communication. You can read more about our graduates on our
Voices blog on the website. So how do you get started? If you are new to Extension, you’ll need
to create a free student account through our website. You’ll use this account to enroll and pay
for your courses, find out about your grades and track your progress through the program. Then, enroll in your first course, Grammar,
Mechanics and Usage for Editors. Numerous sections of this course are offered
year round. I suggest visiting the course page and finding
a section that fits your schedule. I also suggest filling out our newsletter
sign-up form. You’ll receive monthly emails about upcoming
courses and new blog posts. Thank you for submitting your questions, many
of which we’ve been able to answer during the presentation. Here are some more that have come in. Can I transfer credit from a college or university? Unfortunately no. This is a fairly small defined sequence so
we do not accept any transfer credit. Can I waive the grammar mechanics and usage
for editors course? This too is not something that we allow. The idea of the grammar mechanics course is
to strengthen your skills as a technical writer and editor and to provide you with experience
catching and correcting common grammatical issues in documents through close reading
and line editing. It is not a course requiring you to write
compositions or essays. Completing this course will make you a more
effective technical communicator. How is the program recognized by the industry? The program demonstrates your commitment to
subject matter mastery and the fact that you spend 120 hours if not
more studying this speaks very favorably. It’s looked upon very positively in professional
settings because you can apply what you learn to a wide range of fields. We know this from the comments and queries
we receive from businesses and companies. And it is not uncommon that we are asked to
post job listings or if we know of students who are looking for work. We also try to familiarize students with professional
resources that can help you find work. If you’re in the Bay Area, there are institutions
like Editcetera or Bay Area Editors Forum, and there are numerous chapters of national
organizations such as the Society for Technical Communication. These organizations provide great networking
opportunities and frequently offer short-term professional development seminars to help
you update your skill set. Is there any type of internship opportunity
or career advising for students in the program? Actually, we do offer career advising as part
of the courses. There are discussions in class about where
to find work, potential areas to specialize in, how to negotiate with clients, your fee
structure, and so forth. These are all considerations that will be
discussed through the process of working your way through the courses. In terms of an internship, we don’t place
people but we do have a course called the writing and editing internship program. You sign up and put in 90 hours of work as
an intern at an organization that you identify. The benefit to this is that many institutions
or business organizations can’t take on an intern unless the intern is receiving academic
credit, so we provide you with a vehicle to receive that credit. We help structure the internship and make
sure that you’re going to be doing the type of work that will benefit you as someone training
to be a technical communicator. Are each of the required classes offered every
term? The Grammar Mechanics class is offered each
term, and Technical Communication I & II are typically offered in sequence, fall and spring
semesters. The Visual Design class will undergo online
development in 2019 and we hope to have it available by the fall 2019 semester. Well, that’s all the time we have to take
your questions. But if you have any additional questions that
I wasn’t able to answer, here is our department contact information. We would love to hear from you and discuss
how this program, or individual courses, can help you become a qualified and knowledgeable
technical communicator or add to your current skill set. Thank you again for taking the time to learn
about our program and course offerings in technical communication. We look forward to seeing you in one of our
online classrooms!

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