Technical Writing in the Digital Age: A Collaborative Wiki Class Project

Technical Writing in the Digital Age: A Collaborative Wiki Class Project
Photo by Annie Spratt / Unsplash

This semester, our course was tasked with working on a collaborative LitWiki article page focusing on Technical Writing in the Digital Age. The assignment required students to contribute to this article by constructing a layout and proper organization of topics, adding relevant information to our subtopics, and editing each other's work as if we intended for this article to be submitted publicly. 

But first, What are Wikis?

Wikis are powerful tools that can help improve the public's understanding of a specific topic. By creating access to knowledge, Wikis allow diverse audiences to benefit from a collective pool of expertise, best practices, and real-world examples. This empowers individuals pursuing careers in fields like technical writing and contributes to the overall quality of digital communication by promoting standardized practices. The real-time nature of Wikis ensures that the information remains current and reflects the rapidly evolving digital landscape. 

a computer screen with a list
Photo by Oberon Copeland @veryinformed.com / Unsplash

Wikis enable writing professionals to share best practices, case studies, and examples, fostering a community-driven skill development approach. They can track the evolution of writing tools, contribute to digital literacy, and create a dynamic knowledge hub that evolves with the changing landscape of technical communication. Discussion forums and Q&A sections encourage interactive learning and problem-solving among writers. 

Contributions to LitWiki

My first attempt at editing the LitWiki article included adding a new section called Examples of Digital Documents, which included subsections about infographics and digital presentations. I highlighted programs like Canva and PowerPoint that technical and digital writers should use when creating content. Since Wikis are contributed to and edited by professionals in their fields, technical and digital writers could contribute to this section in the future with new trending digital software that would be helpful to others.

The following section I contributed to was Features of Technical Communication. While the original author of this section had a great starting point, and most of the section was constructed, it needed editing. Many subsections could have been more detailed since many topics only had one or two sentences. I wanted to keep the original authors' ideas but expand on them to allow for more thorough information and for the article flow to match the rest of the Wiki. For example, I combined the clear and concise sections into one, as these topics are usually presented together when speaking on technical writing.

A third contribution made was in the Digital Technologies Tools section. The original author of this section constructed the overall theme of the information and requested some assistance with the additional topics in the subsections of Image Processing Software and Text Editors. I felt this was a great section to contribute to as many of the digital tools mentioned I’ve used before. I wanted to practice this section as if I were a professional in my field, sharing my findings of tools with other digital writers. After adding my sections, I edited the intro paragraph for clarity, capitalization, neutral tone, and grammar issues. I did the same for the Word Processors paragraph to fix some spacing issues and edit for clarity and grammar.

Finally, my last contribution to the Wiki article, at the time of writing this blog post, was editing the overall outline of the article for organizational purposes. Many of my classmates in the discussion thread agreed that the original flow of the Wiki could have been more organized. I proposed a new outline and, with agreement from other classmates, made the corresponding changes. Once the organization and flow of the article make sense, we can review and make edited revisions based on the flow of the new layout. 

Overall, the Wiki article has evolved quite well since the beginning of the semester. Each section has adequate information to inform readers about technical and digital writing. The majority of the information is thorough, with adequate cited sources. 

Classmates who participated thoroughly did well in communicating their thoughts and ideas on the topic. There can be pros and cons when working with the entire class on a group project. However, once we agreed on what topics we wanted to write about and how the article should flow, we combined our knowledge successfully. 

selective focus photography of people sits in front of table inside room
Photo by Annie Spratt / Unsplash

Why is this important? 

As digital technologies and communication tools continue to advance, having an accessible and continually updated resource is vital for professionals to stay relevant and for newcomers to adapt quickly. Wikis' collaborative and interactive features foster community among technical writers. This shared space for discussion, collaboration, and problem-solving encourages the exchange of ideas and experiences, creating a dynamic learning environment beyond traditional educational settings.

Overall, improving public understanding of Technical Writing in the Digital Age through Wikis contributes to the advancement of the field, supports ongoing professional development, and ensures that effective communication practices evolve alongside the rapidly changing technological landscape.

Amanda Austin

Amanda Austin

I am a passionate writing professional with skills in technical and professional writing, blogging & web design, a career in higher education, and an M.A. in Technical and Professional Writing.
Brunswick, Georgia