From the Hart: Blogging with Hillary Hart on Improving the Practice of Technical Communication

by Kevin Cuddihy on 4 May 2012

Posted on behalf of STC President Hillary Hart

Okay, so what are the STC Board and staff doing to support the third of the Society’s major strategic goals—and one that has been a core part of our mission from the beginning, 59 years ago—Improve the Practice of Technical Communication?

STC has already developed a robust inventory of educational courses and webinars for practicing TC professionals, with certificate courses on topics from technical editing to DITA to instructional design, and more; and webinars such as Small Steps to Content Strategy, Creating Help in a Wiki Environment, and Your Career is Your Job. This coming year, we want to expand our offerings to target various potential audiences beyond the majority membership, such as engineers, graphic designers, environmental and health professionals, government contractors who hire technical communicators to get contracts, etc. Educating those professionals who really are technical communicators but don’t know it, as well as those who work with technical communicators, is an important way of improving the practice and communicating value.

As an educator, I of course tend to valorize the critical importance of STC’s educational mission. But, beyond that, any nonprofit organization has the responsibility of delivering credible information via many channels and of engaging members and thought leaders to maintain a culture of learning. There is a ton of information—of content—on the Web, but a strong nonprofit organization vets that information for accuracy and credibility and delivers it for easy consumption. Our publications are evidence of this vetting, as are newer initiatives such as TechComm Today. STC has moved decisively away from communications of mainly internal interest to an external, industry-focused perspective that puts our members in the middle of news about trends and emerging opportunities for technical communicators.

STC is also looking to harness our use of social media and other technologies to promote discussion about topics of interest. One recent initiative is to ask our instructors to start a LinkedIn conversation about the subject of their certificate course a couple of months before the course starts. Another initiative is virtual conferences—the first one was offered last November. Look for more this coming year.

And, finally, but certainly not least importantly, STC will continue to market and expand the Certified Professional Technical Communicator (CPTC)TM certification program. I am so excited about introducing some of the first CPTCers at the Summit later this month. Now that the first cohort of applicants has been evaluated, the year ahead will see a logarithmic increase in the number of technical communicators with the imprimatur of this carefully developed certification.

I hope to see many of you in Rosemont, IL, at the 59th consecutive STC Annual Conference (now called the Summit). For all of you reading this, that number means that STC is heading into its Diamond anniversary. What better way to start celebrating than for me to report next week on what we are doing about the fourth strategic goal: Establish and expand strategic partnerships.

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