A Guide To MIT Free Technical Writing Course
The job of technical writers has a massive scope as it is a very versatile job. If you know the nuances and the relevant skills of this job, you can build a great career for yourself. You can learn the technicalities and the tricks to succeed in this field better by joining a technical writing course.
Several institutes provide online programs in technical writing Skills technical writing, MIT free technical writing course, and many other online courses are quite helpful about which we will discuss here in detail.
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What is Technical Writing
Now that there is so much noise about the term “Technical writing”, it is important to know what exactly comprises Technical Writing. In simple words, writing and documenting the technical processes in the form of manuals, reports, and summary briefs is known as technical writing. It is used in fields like computer hardware, IT, medicine, aeronautics, robotics, and so on.
These fields sound technical, but to understand in simple words, means communicating technical information for people simply and efficiently. People who perform this job are known as technical writers. Today, in an era of technology, we are all dependent on technology, and hence there is a massive demand for technical writers.
Writing Style is very important for technical writers. The writing should be done keeping in view the audience. Sometimes the audience is the general public, while sometimes the audiences are people from the technical field themselves or scientists. Understanding the knowledge of the audience is very important while doing technical writing.
If you are writing for the general public then you may have to write in a simple and very understandable language. You may have to avoid using overly technical terms and steps. However, when you address the scientific audience or technical audience, it could be okay to use some technical terms. As a technical writer, being an SME(subject matter expert) is not essential. However, technical writers may need to work closely with the subject matter expert to gain some expertise to be able to draft the document.
The technique is also an important factor while drafting and documenting. A poorly chosen font or plain textual information is not desired. A technical writer should be able to design the material in a visually appealing way. Plain textual material is mundane so usage of illustrations, diagrams, flowcharts, and videos, etc makes the content readable and interesting.
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Scope and Forms of Technical Writing
As already discussed above, technical writers who get training from MIT free technical writing courses are very much in demand. The demand is high because if we see minutely and precisely then we could say that we come across technical writing more often than thought.
Categorically technical writing comprises several drafts and documents such as follows:
1)Manual Guide-Manual guides are a set of instructions for operating any machine or a program. These could be a set of instructions for setting up any software or app. On the other hand, it could be any device or machine-like washing machine, laptop, and so on.
2)Proposals-On a broader level, proposals document that tells the purpose, methods, and the cost of any program or process. For example -a technical writer will draft a proposal on how to run the software, a marketing professional will draft a proposal about a new product launch, and so on.
3)Press Releases-When any company wants to make some statement about acquisition, mergers, or any new launches, then the company does press releases.
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4)Resume/CV writing-Resumes are another document that is used in an organization to verify a person’s credentials and experiences.
5)Case Study-Case study is a study done over some time in real life about any situation or product or person which are useful in colleges /universities or any research program.
6)White Papers-White papers are documents or drafts that are designed for business problems offering a solution. For example-A government may change its policy in import and export which will lead to a group of people or associations to float white paper across offering solutions.
7)Websites-Today every business has a website, and to thrive in the market, it needs an impressive website. Technical writers are responsible for writing web content and maintain their business presence online.
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8)Data Sheets-Data sheets are designed for products or services documenting their key features, design, and modus operandi crisply.
9)API manuals-These are technical manuals for the developer and the designer community who are mostly into software and application programming interface.
10)Help Systems -These are online help systems or customer care services managed by technical writers who help customers provide solutions regarding the product or services. For example-someone might have received an incorrect order which needs to be fixed, here a team of technical writers might be of great help.
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All the above-mentioned writing and documentation styles are covered in MIT free Technical Writing Course. We will see the details of the programs below.
MIT Courses in Tech Communication and Technical Writing
Massachusetts Institute Of Technology needs no introduction. It is an Ivy League University and boasts an unparalleled educational program and stellar track record of students.
In 2006, MIT launched Technical Communication Courses for its Undergraduate Students and is managed by the Writing department and comparative media. It is designed for scientists and academic researchers who possess in-depth knowledge of the field they belong to.
This course is especially for people who are subject matter experts and want to gain expertise in the technical form of writing. This course trains students on various techniques and tools needed for scientific and technical writing. Though the key focus is on the technical aspects of writings, it is the oral and verbal communication of the technical and scientific aspects also- which is taken care of in this course too.
Students are trained on different types of word processors, authoring tools and techniques, content management systems, software programs, web development tools, graphic designing tools, and so on. These are the technicalities that are covered in tech communication courses.
MIT Free Technical Writing Courses–
This is a free program run by MIT for undergraduate students. While their tech communication courses cover the tools and technicalities required for creating a technical piece of draft and document, the MIT free Technical Writing Courses equip candidates to do accurate citing, paraphrasing, quoting, and summarizing of the technical draft. It is the nuances of the technical writing which is taught and covered in this course.
MIT Open Courseware
MIT has collaborated with edX to provide several free online courses. Now anyone across the globe who wishes to learn from MIT faculty can join the course and experience great learning. These are usually in the field of science, engineering, and technology.
MIT Open courseware is an open and free platform that covers the entire MIT course. It has all the programs that MIT offers ranging from the most basics ones to the most advanced ones. It is a full-fledged well-structured course that has a syllabus, study materials, assignments, and activities. The Study material in some of the courses also includes video lectures, online lectures (live sessions), and free online books. MIT free technical writing course is a part of MIT’s open courseware.
Instructions to get started with Open Courseware (OCW)
The key feature of the OCW programs is that one does not need any kind of enrollment, or last date limits to sign up for the programs. One can get started or sign up at his comfort and pace. However, this has the certain disadvantage that no certificates are provided for these courses. The biggest reward and learning are the knowledge you absorb from these courses.
You can download the study material and hear it with your peers and colleagues as well. You can edit and make some changes in the material too; if you want to use them for non-commercial use. However, the only thing to consider while making changes in the material is to give credit to the source, which is OCW (Open Courseware).
Students and professionals generally choose these programs for two main purposes
1) For learning
2) For teaching.
There are several options for learners. They can choose from options like Engineering, Science, Business, Fine Arts and so on. Another advantage for learners is that there is no restriction or any eligibility criteria for any of the streams.
For example, one can attend lectures for fine arts as well as for Business. This means you can enjoy the benefit and rewards of many different courses at one time. You can complete a course from beginning to end, or you can learn multiple concepts from different courses for free.
For teachers and educators also, there are two ways of finding learning modules.
- One way is to look for courses that train on teaching strategy, instructional methods, problem-solving skills for teachers and educators. It could be a great way of imbibing the teaching methodology of MIT faculty or teachers.
- Another way of finding a course is by searching course and teaching materials based on content type.
OCW’s vast library is quite useful for those looking for teaching materials. You can take an example from simulations and explanations and add these to your classroom teachings. Enhance the learnings of the students by OCW illustrations, slides, and video lectures. This is a great platform to leverage MIT study material for your classroom demonstration. Since OCW is commonly licensed, you can make changes in the materials and use them to your advantage but don’t forget to give credit back to OCW.
Not only graduate teachers but high school teachers can also seek the benefit of OCW’s programs which are for high school learning and teachers.
The career prospect after MIT courses is quite decent. For Technical writing, the students get knowledge about best industry practices and knowledge on best tools and techniques. Since these courses do not provide any certification, the onus of leveraging the course and taking out the benefit from the course depends on the student itself.
Whatsoever, the name MIT itself gives weightage to the resume, and it also shows students’ desire to learn practices in technical writing from the masters itself. Since this course is not a certification program, it would be unfair to expect direct placement after this course. This would depend totally on you to elevate and leverage the learnings in the best possible way.
For the teachers and educators also, the scope is very good because they also get to know the best teaching practices. Thus improve the quality of teaching.
Some Other Technical Writing Courses
IIM Skills Technical Writing Course
IIM Skills is also an emerging name in the arena of technical writing. The course is designed in a way to ensure it benefits amateurs as well as professional technical writers. Though it has headquarters in New Delhi, it provides an online course, and hence any student across the globe can enroll in the course.
The course design is quite comprehensive because it covers all important writing styles that are prevalent in the industry these days like Datasheet, API, White papers, case study, proofreading, and publishing.
Many important tools like MS Visio, MS Project, and others are taught and practiced in the technical writing course of IIM Skills. The teachings are made as practical and interactive as they could be from the industry experts. The assignments given enable the students to hone their writing skills.
The best feature of their program is that they provide lifetime access to the LMS (learning management systems). It has the reading materials and some important tools used in technical and scientific writing.
Because it is a certification program, it also provides a certificate that enhances the credibility of a person as a Technical Writer. The institute also helps students in finding placement opportunities during the course.
Like IIM Skills, there are several other institutes like Udemy and Coursera that offer technical writing courses online.
Comparison between Paid and MIT Free Technical Writing Course
-The paid courses are all certification courses. A certificate gives a sense of accomplishment and is something about which you can proudly highlight in your resume. In an MIT Free Technical Writing Course, no certificates are provided at the end of the course.
-All paid courses generally provide placement assistance to the students, but in MIT Free Technical Writing Course no such assistance for placements is offered.
-More personalized kind of attention is given to students in paid online courses, but in MIT free Technical Writing Course, it is unfair to expect individual attention and feedback for each student through the teaching methodology is quite impressive.
-One limitation of paid online courses is that not everyone can afford to pay for these courses. Some people look for a cost-effective way of learning these courses without compromising on the quality of the teachings and training. Hence for such people, MIT’s free technical courses are a perfect source of acquiring the training.
One piece of advice for people learning from MIT’s free technical writing course is that though the training methodology is comprehensive in itself, one needs to be self-motivated and fully focused while following such courses. The reason is that, since there is no certificate for the courses, they do not conduct any exam on completion of the course, and hence to keep their learnings updated they need to be focused to imbibe the learning.
One can easily say that technical writing courses are much in demand among students and professionals. Depending on the resources, interest, and aspiration they can decide on the paid courses or the MIT free technical courses. Sometimes a person attends the MIT free technical writing course despite being enrolled in some other programs just to gain extra knowledge.