Where Can I Find Free Technical Writing Courses Online?
Several universities offer free online technical writing classes, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Pennsylvania State University and Utah State University. Free technical writing classes are available through open course applications, interactive websites and PowerPoint presentations, though they offer no college credit, nor do they lead to degrees or certificates.
Why Technical Writing Skills are Beneficial
Technical writing courses teach students to communicate scientific or technological terminology into easy-to-understand documents. Technical writers work with subject matter experts (SMEs) to translate such information so that the average reader can comprehend it. Technical writers create user manuals, training guides, software documents and other technical documents.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
MIT's OpenCourseWare is an online course collection that offers hundreds of courses, with nearly 50 of them on the subject of writing. The website offers around ten technical writing courses that cover topics ranging from science to computer software. Each course uses a combination of writing assignments and required readings, teaching students the basics of technical writing through practical lessons. The technical writing courses teach students to become proficient in many areas of technical writing:
- Public health and medicine
- Foundations of technical writing
- Ethical values in technical writing
- Writing for science and technology
- Communication in technical writing
Pennsylvania State University
Pennsylvania State University offers a free technical writing presentation that is used by more than 400 professors at multiple universities and laboratories. This PowerPoint presentation gives users an in-depth discussion of technical writing basics. The presentation teaches technical formatting, grammar, communication mechanics, document structuring and the importance of accurate technical language. The presentation has more than 100 slides, and many slides are accompanied by supportive text. Users learn technical writing concepts such as these:
- Technical editing
- Brainstorming technical ideas
- Translating technical jargon
- Interviewing SMEs
- Learning document layouts
- Establishing an audience and objectives
Utah State University
Utah State's OpenCourseWare program offers one course on the subject of technical writing. With an aim of helping accomplished writers gain fluency with technological lingo, this course includes a history of computing dating back to ancient mathematics and culminating with modern technical topics. Readers of the free course materials may use the lecture notes to familiarize themselves with technical vocabulary while gaining an abridged, yet applicable knowledge of computing history. Topics covered include the following:
- Graphical user interfaces
- Computer crashes