My perspective on teaching technical and professional communication is guided by training techniques that I have found successful in my teaching experience and strategies that I’ve seen drive sustainability in industry. Modern businesses thrive on process innovation and technology is the key to finding strategic advantage. I aim to prepare the global workforce to leverage communication for tools to building organizational capacity.
In 1987, Carnegie Melon University developed a corporate training and appraisal program called the Capability Maturity Model (CMM). The model defines a five-level path toward optimized processes that relies on standardized documentation and technical efficiency. My students witness the positive impacts of CMM applications such as creating process flow diagrams that define a business model.
I consider uncertainty to be the core of all business opportunities and threats. The Risk Doctor, David Hillson, says that a critical success factor in risk management is developing an appropriate and mature risk culture. Sustainable business must look beyond quantifiable measurements and consider human elements that impact an organizations’ success. My students are introduced to methods of monitoring cultural influences such as conducting surveys and focus groups.
Katherine Rowan advocates considering the public’s contribution when evaluating the social and environmental impacts of business activities. Business leaders shouldn’t rely on content expertise alone, but also public perceptions when evaluating risks. My classes offer students an opportunity to engage in democratic communication such as crowd sourced decision-making within their class projects.
The Agile Communicator textbook by Kelli Cargile Cook and Craig Baehr emphasizes an iterative approach to document development to which many technology companies subscribe. They’ve designed a set of exercises that guides instructors and students through the project cycle and provides communication problems that mimic issues which project managers confront. I choose to highlight the project planning and collaboration lessons by requiring team assignments in which students share the responsibility of producing project plans using virtual collaboration tools.
Finally, I follow a philosophy of scaffolding my lesson delivery with multimedia lectures and deliverables. I tend to include video to demonstrate applications and role-playing as practical experience. I also employ the democratic approach to by conducting workshops where students decide which exercises best address their learning objectives. My goal is to provide a rich learning environment that is as flexible and complex as our technical business environment.