Rounding off this series of blog posts is a course called WRIT 3710: Introduction to Institutional Writing. Duncan Koerber taught it over the course of the 2012–2013 academic year. True to its name, the course introduces and provides an overview of institutional writing. The two required course texts are Business Communication: Contexts and Controversies and Readings for Technical Communication, and these form the basis of discussion in this seminar-style class.
Rather than talking at the class, Professor Koerber raises a number of key issues drawn from the week’s assigned readings and opens the floor for comments from students. Participation accounts for a relatively large part of the final grade, so students are encouraged to, as much as possible, voice their opinions of and responses to the two texts.
Some valuable learnings from the course texts are as follows:
1. Now more than ever professionals must develop new routes of communication so that increasingly varied audiences can understand complex information
2. Use the AIDA acronym to grab the audience’s Attention, increase their Interest, produce Desire, and encourage Action
3. The process of writing instructions falls under the stages of planning, structuring, and testing, all of which should adhere to set principles of clear writing
4. A two-step process can be used to analyse an audience and arrive at an agreeable resolution: first, ascertain who the readership is made up of; and second, communicate technical information in a way that syncs with the reader’s prior understanding of the subject
5. When writing for a particular audience, keep in mind the concept of “known/new” information; that is, begin by writing about what the audience already knows and follow with new information
Future students of this class should also know that, apart from the written component, they’ll be expected to make a presentation at course’s end and take part in a mock job interview at course’s beginning. These additional assignments may pose a challenge for some, but ultimately prove beneficial as basic training for the real world.