|Strengthening Technical Communication with Educational Theory Page 1 of 7|
Education is a continually evolving field, as is technical communication. However, technology is quickly outpacing education, and educational technology is often being developed without regard to the learners. Because many technical communicators create projects intended to educate their audiences, technical communicators should have a basic understanding of educational theory. Activity theory is a natural fit due to the many commonalities it has with technical communication practices. Technical communicators receive training about rhetorical concepts and technology, but they may not be provided with instruction on educational theory. Activity theory is a basic principle regarding the education of people, and it forms an important educational foundation that technical communicators should know. Together, activity theory and technical communication create a powerful combination that gives technical communicators a strong reference point for creating educational materials. Computer-based education is used in this paper as an example of how technical communicators can apply activity theory. This paper’s goal is to stimulate discussion regarding the role of technical communication in education. This paper will first create an argument for why technical communicators should be taught about educational theories, provide a brief background on activity theory, describe some of the principles of activity theory, and then show how one sector of technical communication, computer-based education, would benefit from the application of activity theory.