TCID independence initiative faces roadblocks

22 October 2019

Annika Schmidt

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The Technical Communication and Information Design (TCID) program is in the early stages of a yearlong process to develop an accredited Bachelor of Arts (BA) program. TCID is housed in the English department.

The TCID program focuses on three aspects including user experience design, technical communication and information design.

“We’re an applied discipline on the border of humanities and social sciences and STEM,” said director of TCID, Sean Williams. “All of these areas are a lot different from what English teaches.”

Williams said that the reason TCID borders STEM is because their discipline aids those who work within STEM through a supportive capacity, and because the application of TCID requires using technological tools such as a mark-up language to compile information from a database into a useable form.

“My role has been helping people understand what we do and why it’s in the students’ best interest for the separation to happen,” he said.

There is no other equivalent program in the state of Colorado. “Assuming this is approved, we will be the only program in the state,” Williams said. “That’s really advantageous.”

CU Boulder offers programs that include applications similar to TCID that are can serve the same function. The Bachelor of Science (BS) in Information Science covers the same topics, and according to their webpage the program’s “interdisciplinary approach draws on social science, the humanities and computer science…”

The part of TCID that sets it apart from the four programs at CU Boulder of similar nature is the development of writing and editing skills.

Separating TCID from the English department would alter the curriculum in a way that could impact students’ hire-ability from the program.

“There’s a huge market need,” Williams said. “Within TCID there are certain outcomes that professionals or companies who are hiring expect students to have. The separation enables us to better prepare students for those careers.”

Williams is a new faculty member, and he said he was hired to lead the transition because of his experience starting other programs.

Part of Williams’ role is ensuring that the program is implemented properly. “The reason for hiring me was to make sure that everything follows the process and make sure everything gets done,” he said. During a prior attempt at a department split, the process didn’t happen. “I’m treating that as something of the past.”

Katherine Mack, associate professor of English and chair spoke on administrative collaboration. “We are working together collaboratively,” she said. “Our top priority is for students to be able to take their classes and learn and thrive.”

There have been no changes for students this semester other than some course prefixes being changed from ENGL to TCID. The content of these classes has not changed.

Advisors and faculty across campus are aware of the impending changes and are guiding students accordingly. Students in the current TCID program are being advised to take courses that will allow them to transition into the new program with ease.

If the proposal is approved and TCID becomes a BA, students can expect a new curriculum and deeper integration of internships with industry partners. Additionally, students in the program will take more credit hours within the TCID discipline as opposed to English courses.

The English major with an emphasis in professional technical writing requires taking eight courses with an ENGL prefix, according to their program requirements listed on their website. Four of those eight classes cover literature topics, and the remaining cover diversity and identity topics that relate to audience analysis found in TCID courses.

“There’s going to be a lot that happens,” Williams said. “We just need to get that proposal approved.”