Staying Abreast of Trends
When reading Digital Literacy for Technical Communicators (Spilka, 2010), what struck me was the concept of assumption mentioned in chapter two, “The Effects of Digital Literacy on the Nature of Technical Communication Work.” Author R. Stanley Dicks gives an overview of the technical skill involved in technical communication, and it’s rapid evolution with rise in the digital age. He states that “It is too easy to look at the latest trends and assume that all workers will be doing those new, different tasks in the near future” (Spilka, 2010, p. 51). Technical communicators see the fundamental process of their jobs changing rapidly. When this happens, a shift in work production ensues. Is this due to the time adjustment for learning new technical processes? Perhaps, but Spilka states that it should be remembered that trends “…largely have to do with the tools and technologies associated with the discipline, and not with the core competency skills that the discipline continues to require” (Spilka, 2010, p. 52). Perhaps a core skill for any technical communicator is the ability to adapt quickly to shifting trends.
For educators, the shifting trends can be especially problematic when deciding what aspects of curriculum to change, and which resources to seek. Are the trends universal or isolated to a niche aspect of technology? Are there enough resources to adequately teach fundamental skills? These questions, among others, face educators in technical communication. Spilka acknowledges this and says that educators can “…continue to develop internship and cooperative education opportunities and to encourage their students to take advantage of them” (Spilka, 2010, p. 76). This kind of cooperative relationship between educator and student allows teachers to keep track of changes in the nature of technical communication.
In the concept of emerging media, however, are there sufficient opportunities for students? Will educators follow up in order to know what emerging trends will face their future students? These are all questions I found myself asking when reading this week’s work.