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December 19, 2018

tekom Europe Developments

The Association’s Activities 2018 in a Nutshell

Anke Neytchev

2018 was an eventful year for tekom Europe. Important projects were started or successfully completed. We are approaching the number of 1,000 members with great strides and are pleased to have around one hundred more members than in the previous year.

In order to coordinate the growing number of activities, three Assemblies of Delegates (AoD) took place, one of them online. The first joint meeting took place on March 3, 2018 in Verona. Prior to that, a day event with guests from Italian companies was held in cooperation with COM&TEC. In November, the Assembly of Delegates was held in Stuttgart. They then attended the tcworld conference, where they were able to find inspiration for the activities of their national association and establish contacts with potential speakers and members.

Activities of tekom Europe and new offers for members

In 2018 tekom Europe launched its monthly newsletter as a service for its members and interested persons to stay up-to-date on the latest news from the industry, upcoming events and webinars, call for papers or initiatives from the Advisory Boards. We also developed a new registration process for our webinars, making it more convenient for our members to sign-up. All our webinars are always free of charge for tekom Europe members, while non-members are charged for certain webinars. In the summer we also published our Webinar Library, where you can find recordings of all our past webinar session. This is again a service for members only. Finally, we published two practical guides and one guideline in English language that can support our members in their daily work.

  • Practical guide “Safety Notes and Warning Messages”
  • Guideline “Delivery of information for use in electronic form – eDoc”
  • Practical guide “Standards and Guidelines for API Documentation”

Advisory Board for Legislation and Standards

The tekom Europe Advisory Board for Legislation and Standards is composed of experts from various industry sectors and European countries.

The experts monitor standards in the field of technical communication and related fields on the national and international level as well as European legislation, especially product safety legislation.

In addition, the board observes trends and checks them for relevance in general and for suitability for standardization purposes. In practice, the advisory board members meet once a year in person and conduct web meetings on specific topics throughout the year.

In 2018 they put their main focus on machinery. Apart from a new standard (ISO 20607 ISO/DIS 20607 Safety of machinery -- Instruction handbook -- General drafting principles) coming up, the European Union plans to revise the Machinery Directive itself. Thus, the experts of the advisory board participated in the European-wide survey of the European Commission to draw attention to issues related to technical documentation.

Concerning the upcoming standard ISO 20607, the advisory board endeavored to align this standard with the requirements of the likewise upcoming IEC 82079-1 ed. 2, which is the horizontal standard for technical communication.

The Advisory Board is still seeking expert support, especially in the sector of medical devices, software documentation and translation services.

Are you interested in contributing? Please contact the tekom Europe Executive Board or Dr. Claudia Klumpp (c.klumpp(at)tekom.de).

Advisory Board for Professional Development and Education

The tekom Europe Advisory Board for Professional Development and Education is an initiative of tekom Europe to make the profession of technical writer better known and to promote professionalization at the European level, in line with the objectives of the association.

The Advisory Board has set itself various strategic goals. One is to bridge the gap between technical communication and related areas, especially between translation services and technical communication. One important goal is to increase visibility and awareness of technical communication among translators and also to attract the attention of language service providers to technical communication. Various new target groups are to be involved in the activities of the Board and in technical communication, e.g., translation, journalism, interaction design, information system studies, computer science, media and communication studies. Furthermore, the relationship between academia and industry should become closer.

The activities of the Advisory Board include marketing and providing information, such as promoting technical communication to new target groups, to translation service providers or to job agencies. To promote the profession, different channels are used, for example presentations and webinars, websites, blogs, newsletters and social media.

The Board launched its first initiatives in 2018.

The situation of technical communication in Europe is very different and heterogeneous. Therefore, in a first step, the current status quo in the different countries should be shown. In a country report, information was compiled from various European countries that describes the current situation of technical communication. This includes the significance and degree of recognition of the profession and the job title. In addition, the country reports presented the academic training and further training situation. A further section is devoted to the industries typical of the country where technical writers are employed. 

Currently, 10 country reports are available from: Greece, Spain, Belgium, Finland, Bulgaria, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, France and Germany.

Personas and marketing channels

Vivid descriptions of the profession and the ways into the profession help to develop effective marketing material. Knowledge about common marketing channels helps to spread this.

The Advisory Board also developed a survey among students and employees in technical communication. The aim of this was to find out more about marketing ways to disseminate information about the profession of technical writer. The survey also identifies various career paths and motivations to become a technical writer. The results will be used to create personas that illustrate how different people with different professional backgrounds have become technical writers.

From the results, empirical data about the background of technical communicators are derived. Also, personas representing typical professional backgrounds are developed. From the survey, the Advisory Board obtained comprehensive information, why the profession is attractive, what inspired people to become technical communicators, and individual stories.

TecCOMFrame – The Profession of Technical Communicator

tekom Europe’s first EU-funded project “TecCOMFrame” was successfully concluded in 2018 after three years of work-intensive and inspiring project work. Involved were partners from higher education institutions from Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Poland and Romania while tekom Europe acted as the project coordinator. What started as a project website has now become a platform with extensive information on the job profile of Technical Communicator, its competence requirements and opportunities for education and training throughout Europe. The website is available on tech-writer.info.

European Academic Colloquium

The sixth European Academic Colloquium (EAC) on Technical Communication Studies took place on April 26-27 at the University of Limerick in Ireland. For the third time, the Colloquium was integrated into the project TecCOMFrame. On the first day of the event, about 50 scholars and practitioners came together to discuss this year’s topic, 21st century skills for technical communication. During several presentation slots, professionals from the industry and academia presented their research projects. The corresponding articles to the presentations are collected and published in the scientific journal “Proceedings of the European Academic Colloquium on Technical Communication 2018”. On the second day of the event, the International HEI Teacher Meeting took place. It was organized as an open space where all participants could bring in their own topics and discuss best practices, the potential for joint projects, and future collaborations between their institutions. We had discussions around the topics: “How do people find their way into the profession of technical communicator?”, “research networks and internationalization” as well as “collaborations between universities”. The day was concluded with a tour to the Cliffs of Moher and the opportunity for more networking in a pleasant atmosphere.