Kairos 16.1 (Fall, 2011)

Greetings! As Dr. Newmark mentioned in her introduction, I am Jacoby Boles, former “Publications Management” student and editorial assistant of Xchanges. I also am part of a growing number of students who return to school to get a second bachelor’s degree or to add hours in a different field to their existing degree. Outside of the classroom, I work as a freelance branding consultant and web developer. I have been professionally involved in web-based publications and online catalogs since 2003. I joined Dr. Newmark’s “Publications Management” to add a level of additional confidence to my work with publications and my management of writing-centered projects.

I expected that this course would continue the mission of other Technical Communications classes, namely, to further my knowledge of “best practices” for writing projects, as well as provide actual practice writing and managing the writing process. It was not until reading the course syllabus that I found out that the students in the course would be producing a web journal. As a professional who works with websites, blogs, and other electronic texts, this increased the applicability of this course to my actual experience.

Speaking from a more external perspective, and not just as a student, what this course aims towards providing is a lens of practical application through which theoretical management concepts presented in texts and other outside sources can be practiced. By producing documents that highlight each stage of the production process, we as students have a larger end result than the journal issue we produced: we have a collection of documents, and experience in the life-cycle of an issue. This set of resulting documents includes reports, recommendations, and logs, all of which are tools used in workplace settings.

For students at a school dedicated largely to engineering, the opportunities to engage in a context besides the scientific and engineering disciplines provide added experience interacting with non-engineering audiences and subject matter experts beyond a singular focus. There is a underlying tendency and even an often-spoken need to defend the Humanities, even Digital Humanities, in terms of how they can be applied to the Sciences or how these courses indeed mimic the methods of scientific inquiry. What I understand as a professional in a non-science or engineering-based field is that the world does indeed need individuals who can go between groups — people who are willing to, and can effectively communicate information between complementary and divergent fields. By developing skills and experience working across complementary disciplines with people of differing skill sets, students are made aware of the process by which research and technical information is communicated to user audiences.

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