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Friday, May 13 • 10:30am - 10:45am
Wikipedia in the Classroom: A Window on Technical Communication Praxis

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One of the challenges faced by new technical communication students is understanding the praxis of their new discipline. The work of technical communicators is both visual and textual, in and about technology, interdisciplinary and, in contrast to students’ common conception of writing, highly collaborative. The open-source online encyclopedia Wikipedia contains rich evidence of technical communication in action that expresses all of these qualities. In particular, Wikipedia’s Talk pages preserve the ongoing dialogue in which community members create knowledge and engage in meta-discourse on the production of digital, multimedia texts. This paper argues for the value of Talk pages for helping students understand the praxis of technical communication through two synergistic methods of analysis. In the first method, which draws on the work of Selfe and Selfe, students create a “text cloud” of Talk page text in order to locate the recurring concerns of technical communicators. In the second method students perform a close reading of Talk page text to uncover the complexities of how those concerns are expressed to accomplish a shared goal. This research provides benefits typically associated with job-shadowing, service learning, or client work. In particular, students can understand the role of technical communication in a community that is digital and worldwide, and which collectively maintains the world’s seventh most popular website.


Friday May 13, 2016 10:30am - 10:45am
COOR L1-88 975 S Myrtle Ave Arizona State University Tempe, AZ 85281
  • Session Location COOR L1-88

Attendees (21)