communicators have greatly influenced the field's current pedagogical resources as is evidenced by the many advanced textbooks on publications management, the documentation process, and usability testing. For a view on how technical communication educators are preparing students for success in the workplace, I have tumed to, among other sources, the Allyn and Bacon Series in Technical Communication. This is an appropriate source because of the breadth of topics covered, the target audiences, and the recent publication dates of books within the series. The series covers topics including editing, software documentation, usability testing, international communication, ethics, web design, oral presentations, technical 6
marketing, proposals, style, and visual language. These topics include many of the areas technical communication practitioners and educators alike have identified as essential for success in the workplace. The range of topics covered is impressive; however, the target audience and how the books in the series view that audience are more important for to my research. According to the series editor, Sam Dragga, the primary audience for the series is undergraduate and graduate students in technical communication programs. This audience moves beyond the audience that constitutes the majority of students taking a technical communication course. The series is focused on students who are likely to enter the workforce as technical communicators and, according to Dragga, they need an education that is grounded in both theory and practice. The books in this series are "a direct response to both the educational needs of students and the practical demands of business and industry." This series reflects a change in the way we view our students and the realities of the workforce. Our students have the opportunity and potential to impact the workplace in exciting ways—"to operate effectively .... today's students require extensive training in the creation, analysis, and design of information for both domestic and international audiences, for both paper and electronic environments" (xix). Notice that the editor's focus is on creation, analysis, and design; this focus reflects an important shift in technical communication education away from the single page and clear transferring of information to making practitioners an integral part of the larger management and production process. This points to a larger, more connected role for technical communicators that gives them a contextual and systems orientation.
Viewing the practitioner's role in such an expansive way has been discussed for many years, and the books in this series make this connection very concrete and current. All of the advanced books in this series have been published since 1998, with five published in 2002. Most of the books (Dombrowski, 2000; Rude, 2002; Kostelnick & Roberts, 1998; Farkas & Farkas, 2002; Hamer &. Zimmerman, 2002; Johnson-Sheehan, 2002) have a strong focus on process, complexity, and problem solving and, although
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