Technical communicators have always needed to possess double competence in communication and the subject matter(s) for which they develop information products. Knowing how to use relevant software proficiently ranks high on the list of necessary competencies in our profession.
The specialized software we use in our profession can best be described as a “sociotechnical system”. It comprises technical components as well as non-technical ones. While the software enables us to complete our tasks, such as user research, technical communicators also need to be familiar with the work routines and have the background knowledge common to our trade.
Therefore, technical communication trainees or students must be introduced to both the software itself and to the routines of creating technical documents. But while many people are teaching the use of software for different settings, didactical considerations for sociotechnical systems are astonishingly rare.
This article is addressed to employers, experienced colleagues, and academic teachers. It intends to help you prepare new technical communicators for their job systematically, based on the software tool you use.
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