Professionalizing the tc field lava con_nov 2011


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Here are slides from my presentation at LavaCon 2011 in Austin Texas,,

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  • My original title phrased this idea as “can be.” I’d like to go on record with the affirmative “is.”
  • 1. I have to be honest about the BOK project – it is floundering from lack of resources, energy. It is a HUGE project – bigger than setting up the certification program. It was started in 2007, BEFORE the Great Recession. Fiscal responsibility pushed STC to move forward with certification quickly – the program would bring revenue to STC within a couple of years, whereas the BOK may never generate revenue.The BOK is and was a labor of love to benefit the profession. It may need multi-organizational effort.You have been helping to develop the BOK all along, in your research and teaching: what we need is a published, accessible, easily updatable version. Technical communicators cannot yet benefit from the BOK because what’s on the development site is not particularly readable/accessible. 2. We have a continually increasing # of strong academic programs in TC; some of course have different names and remain a bit buried. More tonight ...We don’t have an accreditation bureau yet – that is NOT what the Certification Commission is. 3. The TC certification program is what I’d like to focus on today, since it is the newest effort of these 3. It is open for business – one can apply to be evaluated (until the end of 2011, at a $200 saving).
  • KSAs are NOT the same as core competencies.Core competencies are foundational, both broad and deep knowledge, as well as ability to apply knowledge.E.g., writing, critical thinking …
  • Commissioners of Certification Commission:Steven Jong (Chair)Rob Hanna (Vice Chair)Charles Fisher (Treasurer)Stephen Murphy (Secretary)Saul CarlinerKaren Baranich (STC delegate)Kathryn Burton (STC CEO and ex officio member)Terms end May 2013
  • Look at these carefully. You definitely work in/on these areas, as you prepare and deliver materials for your classes, manage the processes of active learning, and assess student outcomes.
  • Applicant can explain how products are produced, not just what those products are. TCers are actually spending more time on teams than they are writing or designing products (Hart and Conklin, 2006).
  • Jamie Conklin and I discovered in our 2004-2006 qualitative research into what technical communicators actually do that at least 83% of TCers spend at least 20% of their work time on teams, and 38% spend at least 80% of their time on teams. (I should say that these survey results are based on a sample of 37 experienced technical communicators.)So many different job titles out there! Better recognition of the field will come from identifying the essential and across-the field skills and abilities that lie at the heart of all TC. All TCers must be able to analyze a user/stakeholder and negotiate the best ways to design, develop, and produce/deliver the information. And be able to manage the whole process.
  • Here’s an example of a possible TC career path as the person moves through education and training phases of what will be lifelong learning.
  • Professionalizing the tc field lava con_nov 2011

    1. 1. So what’s all this about a TechnicalCommunication certification? LavaCon November 2011 Hillary Hart
    2. 2. How does a profession becomerecognized as such?• Organizes/develops a Body of Knowledge• Has strong academic programs• Has some form of professional certification or licensure
    3. 3. Benefits of TC certification• The profession has long needed recognition and definition.• This credential, specifically for technical communicators, should help employers understand what TCers can do.• Once the program achieves a critical mass of certifications, a TC certification should give a technical and financial edge.
    4. 4. How was the TC Certification programdeveloped?• STC Certification Committee studied models of certification: e.g., Project Management Institute (PMI) • Committee included consultant with expertise in setting up certification programs.• Committee did literature review and job-tasks analysis.• Committee established key knowledge, skills, abilities (KSAs) of technical communication; organized them into areas of practice.
    5. 5. How is the program administered?• Certification Commission administers the program. This commission is legally separate from STC; the Board is completely separate from the STC Board.• First set of portfolio-evaluators are the seven Commissioners, who developed the evaluation criteria.• Those who are certified are eligible to become evaluators.
    6. 6. The TC certification is based on fivebroad areas of practice.• User/task/experience analysis• Information design• Process management• Information development• Information production
    7. 7. These areas coverexperience withprocesses andcollaboration, as wellas with products.
    8. 8. The evaluation is portfolio-based andnot just about “products.”• Applicants demonstrate competence in the five areas of practice via a packet of materials they produce.• Applicants answer questions about their work practice, processes, and production.• Technical communicators with widely varying titles have expertise in (at least) those five areas.• No exam.
    9. 9. All TCers analyze users/stakeholders and negotiatebest ways to design, develop, and produce/deliverthe information. And manage the whole process. Design info Deliver infoAnalyze user Develop info Manage/Reuse info Technical Writer Content Strategist
    10. 10. Who is eligible?• Evaluators look for a combination of experience and education in a sliding scale. Scale is definitely tipped toward experience because this certification is not an exam.• You do NOT have to be an STC member.
    11. 11. Professional certification is not asubstitute for an academic degree• Certification is an additional credential. Training for certification should become part of continuing professional development, not a substitute for gaining the education offered by academic degree programs.
    12. 12. Education and training are a continuum.Academic Graduatecertificate degreeor undergrad Workplace Certificationdegree training training