Category Archives: News

Conceptual versus Practical Communications Education Causes One School to Suspend a Program

Although I have not heard of a suspension of a technical communication program following a program review, each program review brings about the possibility of a suspension of a program.

The particular issue that should be of interest to programs in technical and professional communication is the expectation of practical courses in addition to conceptual courses.  In this particular case, the people reviewing the program felt that practical, skills-based education got the short shrift and that needs to be addressed before the program is reinstated.

More broadly, this tension between conceptual and practical education exists in all types of programs, and is one of the most common concerns raised by practicing professionals.

Also note the source—  This is a terrific, collaboratively published and maintained site, that serves the journalism community in Canada.  It includes a mix of industry news, industry events, news about academic programs, commentary, and career advice.

View the entire story at:


Evidence and Plain Language


“Evidence-based” is a term that started in medical fields and has been adopted in many others, especially education. 

It’s the current incarnation of longer-term efforts to integrate extensive bodies research into everyday practice.  It’s similar to previously promoted concepts like  “What Works,” and research-to-practice.

STC has run some virtual research-to-practice conferences, and published a great compilation of research-based heuristics for developing web-based information in the Third Quarter 2000 issue of Technical Communication.

Iva Cheung summarizes a 2013 presentation by Karen Schriver that discusses evidence-based practices in plain language and that addresses these specific topics.  Some of the recommendations differ from earlier ones as technology changes and our base of research goes.

  • Audiences, readers, and users
  • Nominalizations
  • Conditionals
  • Lists
  • Text Density
  • Serif versus sans-serif
  • Layout and design
  • Impressions and opinions
  • Technology
  • Teamwork in writing and design

Check out the summary at:

How Should You Continue Your Learning Journey in Technical Communication? A Self-Assessment

Are you interested in training in technical communication? A bachelor’s degree? A master’s degree? A PhD?

Although all of these options exist for continuing your learning about technical communication, each type of education addresses a different need.

So which educational option best meets your needs? That depends—based on your goals, personal situation, finances, and how independently you want to study.

The interactive article How Should You Continue Your Learning Journey in Technical Communication? A Self-Assessment in the July/August 2012 issue of Intercom helps you to assess your needs and suggests the type of program that might meet them. In it, you answer a series of questions, calculate a score, and, in the score, learn which option might best meet your needs. Following that, this article describes the learning options available, for whom each is intended, and how they differ from one another.

To see the entire article, visit:

Note that a membership in the Society for Technical Communication is required to view the article.