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Robots and Technical Writing: Building Skills and Machines

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Technical writing can certainly be a process of learning the skills through a course from a university or going to a conference.  But using hypothetical situations isn’t as effective as putting technical writing skills into use.  At Northwestern State University, students are learning about writing technical documentation while building robots.

Surprisingly, the course in which students are learning about technical writing isn’t a technical course or a technology class.  They’re learning in an English class, building their technical writing skills with each step of the robot-making process.

Why does this process work to teach skills?  According to the instructor, Ramey Prince, students learn because:

  • It’s a hands-on process – Because students are learning the technical process intimately, they understand not only what to write, but also how to present the information in an effective way.
  • Students are relaxed – Unlike learning on the job where there are deadlines and other pressing issues, students get to stay relaxed when learning and they can focus on learning instead of on outside distractions.
  • It’s not about the robots, it’s the writing – Even though the robots aren’t necessarily functional, the students still learn about how the robots work, how they function, and how to create a document that works for the reader.

Technology that improves technology. A novel concept?

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