Company Publishes Work by Technical Writing Students

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Two students in Dr. Angela Laflen's Spring 2016 Technical Writing course have had their work featured by TryMyUI, a San Francisco-based company that tests websites' usability for corporate clients. Drawing on the partnership opportunities the company provides to educational institutions, Dr. Laflen incorporated into her class a project in which students, working in partnerships, compared the usability of 2 different websites. As part of their work, students mastered TryMyUI's software, wrote proposals and reports, and analyzed data. Having reviewed all the class's reports, TryMyUI representatives judged the work produced by Margaret Bruetsch '16 and Christina Crasto '16 as the strongest in the class, and published it on their blog.

Dr. Laflen considers the TryMyUI experience an ideal one for her Technical Writing course, which familiarizes students with genres and standards specific to technical communication. In addition to working with TryMyUI, students also developed infographics for an area nonprofit, Mental Health America of Dutchess County, and produced instructional material on repairing electronics for the website iFixit.com. Client-based work is crucial for students, Dr. Laflen points out, because it "helps them think about issues of audience and purpose in a concrete way and allows them to get feedback from professionals on their work." Dr. Laflen originally learned about TryMyUI when it held a "UX Case Wars competition" for students. She assembled a team of Marist students for that competition who won an Honorable Mention for their comparative test of Nike's and Reebok's websites; that team's work was also published on the company's site. Other educational institutions that have partnered with TryMyUI include New York University, the University of California at Los Angeles, Harvard University, and Dartmouth College.

The winning Spring 2016 partnership, Ms. Bruetsch and Ms. Crasto, valued the opportunity to expand their knowledge base and professional skills through all of the course's projects. A double major in English and Communication with a minor in Creative Writing, Ms. Bruetsch recounted that "Christina and I were a real team, divvying up the work equally and working hard together...It really highlighted true collaboration." For her part, Communication major Ms. Crasto was surprised by the variety of skills she gained from all three projects: "Leaving this course, I now have published reports to add to my portfolio and I know how to disassemble a laptop!"

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