Turn a Meaningless Certificate into Meaningful Career Advancement

Certificates are a dime a dozen. If you’re breathing and you’re willing to attend sessions (for free or for fee), you can build your own Wall of Frames — a personal gallery of printed and matted pseudo-credentials. Most of them represent nothing more than hours spent sitting in classrooms or clicking through web tutorials.

The May 13-16 Technical Communication Summit (sponsored by the Society for Technical Communication, STC) promises to be different. It offers real value in five conference certificate programs — especially for experienced infowriters. You’ll earn a fancy piece of paper that’s probably pretty worthless (for crying out loud, it’s a certificate of attendance), but the sharpened work skills and the international networking opportunities will be priceless.

For my money, the most interesting of the five available programs are these two:

  • Master Writers – the subtitle for this is Undiscovered Country: Taking Your Information Design to the Next Level. Information design tends not to be top-of-brain stuff for most infowriters. If you sign up for this program, you’ll get into some pretty abstract stuff, including how people learn, think and structure information in their minds, the nature of reality, and perception. Then, adding concrete insult to abstract injury, you’ll wrestle with taxonomies, schemas, and shared feature analyses. Not your typical day at the keyboard.Bottom line promise is that you’ll learn strategies for structuring information that is useful:
    • To diverse groups of readers with varying learning styles.
    • For efficient re-use in different contexts
    • For step-by-step walkthroughs of complex tasks.
  • Usability – the subtitle for this one is The Science and Art of Effective Interface Design. If you’ve ever been forced to shoehorn necessary information into an over-designed and/or over-gimmicked site, this is the program for you. It promises to help you design interfaces that balance user performance with visual appeal, meet accessibility and internationalization requirements, and help you retain your sanity during the process.

The certificate programs include participation in a two-day pre-conference seminar on May 12 and 13, followed by attendance at four designated conference sessions in the same subject area. According to the organizers, “this combination of seminars and sessions is intended to help you develop skills and expose you to the broad range of thinking in the subject area.”

Check out the conference registration site for additional information about the conference in general and specifically about the other certificate programs: Basic Technical Communications, Content Management, and Team Management. Could be well worth the money, especially for STC members. Let me know what you think.

[tags]STC,usability, information design[/tags]