What Is Technical Communication? What is the difference between technical communication and technical writing? After completing your reading assignments for this week, how would you define each of these terms? Create your own definition for technical communication and a separate definition for technical writing.
The Value of Technical Communication. Why do we need technical communication? What purpose does it serve? Identify at least five types of documents or other written materials that could be considered technical writing that you engage in or see in your home and/or workplace.
Evaluation of a Health-Related Website. In July 1999, The American Telemedicine Association (A.T.A.) issued the following advice to consumers who use the Internet for health-related information and services. A.T.A.’s criteria for a quality site include the following (“Advisories” 2–3):
a. The site is sponsored by a reputable healthcare organization (e.g., American Cancer Society, American Medical Association, nationally recognized medical college, or the like). Information from a commercial interest such as a drug company should include assurances that the material is reasonable, balanced, and objective and does not merely promote the company’s own products.
b. Each information source is clearly documented.
c. A site providing online diagnosis or prescribing treatment and medication avoids any direct sales of the treatments or medications being prescribed.
d. The professionals offering medical consultation are fully licensed and their credentials are clearly posted.
e. The site clearly describes its policies and procedures for maintaining records of the consultation and safeguarding patient privacy.
Visit a health-related Website and evaluate it according to the above criteria. Focus on sites that cover alternative health such as Alt Medicine, sites that create specific recommendations based on the information you provide such as WebMD, sites that offer specialized consultation about specific medical conditions such as HealthLine, or discussion sites for people with a specific medical condition such as the Cancer Survivors Network.
Assume that you are a Website consultant. Based on your reading so far about technical communication and the A.T.A. guidelines above, prepare a numbered list of specific problems you noticed on the Website and a recommendation of how each problem could be corrected. Your list should be approximately one page, single spaced, with a double space between the problem and the solution and a double space before each numbered item. Attach a title page to your list, formatted according to A.P.A. style guidelines. For information regarding A.P.A. formatting, visit the Ashford Writing Center by following the link under the Learning Resources tab in the left navigation of the online course.
Expert Opinion and Critical Thinking in Research. Review the information in Chapter Six of Technical Communicationabout expert opinion. Select a topic from science or technology on which experts might disagree (e.g., possible health hazards of cell phones, global warming/global climate change, or the value of vitamin supplements). Use the Internet to research this topic and find one point on which experts seem to agree, one point on which experts disagree, and one opinion that seems to be influenced by financial or political motives. In your post, state your topic, report the three points above, and discuss what your learned from this research. Be sure to properly cite all sources.
Research Assignments. Discuss what aspects of conducting research are the easiest and the most difficult for you and why you find these areas easy and difficult. Include at least one ethical issue from your reading of Chapter Five of Technical Communication (assigned in Week One) as one of aspects. Which types of sources do you find most difficult to evaluate and why? What specific idea did you learn from your reading and/or assignments this week that will help you in your future research?
Organizational Strategies. As Chapter Ten of our text, Technical Communication, tells us, partition and classification are two ways of dividing a subject. Classification divides and groups subjects that have some similarities into categories; partition divides one subject into parts. Subjects can be classified and partitioned in many different ways, depending upon the characteristic(s) the writer thinks is important.
Assume that you are shopping for a laptop computer. Shop an Internet site and classify the laptops you find there into three or four categories. Then select one category and find three laptops that fit that category. Partition each of these laptops using three or four different features that are important to you (For example, you could use size of laptop, number of features, etc.). In your paper, list the categories of laptops you created and the features of the laptops you partitioned. Include one paragraph in which you discuss what you learned from this exercise. Your paper should include title and references pages, and be formatted according to A.P.A. style guidelines. For information regarding A.P.A. formatting, visit the Ashford Writing Center by following the link under the Learning Resources tab in the left navigation of the online course.
Defining Terms. Explain the importance and purpose of technical definitions. Select a term you know the meaning of but others may not. Using the guidelines presented in Chapter Eighteen of the text, Technical Communication, create a sentence definition and then expand the definition using one or more of the expansion techniques presented in the chapter. Post the term, the sentence definition, and the expanded definition.
Proposals. What is the primary purpose of a proposal, and why must a proposal be persuasive? Provide an example of a written (or oral) proposal you have made. If it was successful, discuss what elements, discussed in our text, you used to make it successful. If it was unsuccessful and did not achieve its purpose, discuss what you could have done differently to make it successful.
Instruction: Effective Use of an Online Library Database. Using the information you have learned from Chapter Twenty of the text Technical Communication, write an instruction for feeding an infant. If you have some personal experience in this area, you may use this experience as a source of information. However, you should also conduct research to obtain expert opinions and to be certain your information is accurate. Your assignment must cite at least two scholarly sources. Before you begin your instruction, determine how the instruction will be used (its purpose) and who your audience will be. Develop an audience and use profile to guide your writing. (Review Chapter Three of the text.) Then, based on information you learned last week in Chapter Ten, prepare a formal outline with at least three levels of detail, using appropriate alphanumeric notation. After you have constructed your outline, prepare an instruction brochure. (A foldout format is not required.)
Planning Proposal Outline. Submit a formal outline for your research proposal that is due in Week Five. Your outline must include a descriptive title of the topic you will be researching. It must also include sufficient information to develop a two-page to three-page written proposal, must be prepared using appropriate alphanumeric notation, and must be developed to at least two levels of detail. Your paper should include title and references pages, and be formatted according to A.P.A. style guidelines. For information regarding A.P.A. formatting, visit the Ashford Writing Center by following the link under the Learning Resources tab in the left navigation of the online course.
Using Visual Images. Search the Internet and find examples of each of the following:
a. A graph
b. A chart
c. A graphic illustration
Study the three examples you found and compare each one to the guidelines for using that type of visual, the guidelines for incorporating color, and the guidelines for fitting visuals with text and usability of visuals found in Chapter Twelve of the text,Technical Communication. In your post, briefly describe each visual and discuss how well the visual conforms to the guidelines. Be sure to cite all resources.
Effective Page Design. Find an example of effective page design and an ineffective page design in a magazine or on the Web. In your post, describe each page design and why it is effective or ineffective. Be specific in your evaluation. With the ineffective page design, make specific recommendations for improvement. Be sure to cite all resources.
Process/Mechanism Description. Select a simple process you routinely perform or a common household or office object as the topic for your process/mechanism description. Some examples of common processes are brushing your teeth, combing or brushing your hair, tying your shoes, eating breakfast, etc. Some common household or office objects for a mechanism description are flashlights, nail clippers, retractable ballpoint pens, scissors, staplers, or any other simple mechanisms.
Before writing your process or mechanism description, complete an audience and use profile (p. 35 of the text, Technical Communication.)
Write a one-page, single-spaced, objective description of the process or mechanism you have selected. Incorporate the elements of a usable description and a logical descriptive sequence, as shown in Chapter Nineteen of the text. Please note: You do not have to include a visual in your assignment; however, you may do so if you wish. If you include a visual, be sure it meets the requirements for an effective visual you studied in Chapter Twelve. Make sure your process/mechanism description includes a brief introduction, body, and conclusion.
Course Summary. Over the past five weeks, we have covered many subjects related to technical writing. If someone asked you to prepare a written summary of this five-week course, what would you write? Summaries are often written to make long documents quickly understandable. However, as our text explains, we often have to write summaries to report on meetings, conferences, projects, or programs. Using the information you learned in Chapter Nine of the text, write a 200 – 250 word response that incorporates the elements of a usable summary and summarizes the essential messages of this COM340 course.
Focus of the Final Paper
This paper should be an objective evaluation of a situation or a problem you or someone you know has experienced here at the University or a suggestion for a change to a university process or a procedure that could improve a service the university provides to its students. You will be required to do some research to complete this paper. You should also incorporate the persuasive techniques you studied in this course. An outline of this proposal is due in Week Three, and the proposal itself is due in Week Five. Your proposal must be properly formatted in A.P.A. style and must be two to three pages in length (excluding title and reference pages).
The following are specific requirements for this assignment:
1. This assignment should be a planning proposal, as defined in our text, Technical Communication. The purpose of the proposal is to provide a solution to a problem or suggestions for improvement of a situation.
2. Assume that the audience for this proposal will be Ashford University administration.
3. Your proposal should fulfill the basic persuasive tasks outlined in Chapter Twenty-One of the text.
4. Your proposal should employ the persuasive techniques discussed in Chapter Four of the text.
5. Your proposal should have a clear introduction, body, and conclusion that are appropriately labeled with these headings.
6. Your proposal should have a properly formatted A.P.A. title page. (You do not need a Table of Contents.)
7. Your proposal should have a properly formatted A.P.A. reference page with at least two scholarly sources that support the problem or your suggestion/recommendation.
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