University Technical Writing Project

December 6, 2011 Site News — Miro

Several thousand user-contributed repair guides have been published on our site since we released our repair guide creator to the world. And that’s no coincidence. We’ve been working with the English department at Cal Poly since September 2009 to develop a technical writing curriculum centered around a device repair manual. In fact, students from across the nation are responsible for the majority of user-created content on our site; a total of eight universities now peruse the iFixit project.

The curriculum requires a group of technical writing students to document how to repair a device — either one provided by iFixit, or one of their own choosing. In return, iFixit provides the tools, materials, and instructions for the students to successfully take apart and photograph a device. The entire curriculum (including tips on photography, writing style, and deliverables that need to be turned in) is hosted on iFixit, so students have access to it anytime, anywhere.

After two years of development, we’ve seen tremendous benefits for everyone involved:

  • Students make a noble contribution by writing guides for real electronic devices, all the while learning modern communication techniques by using pictures and text to relay what they learn.
  • Students have a clear set of deliverables that they can show off to family and friends, and even put on their resume at the end of the term.
  • Professors gain access to an easily-startable, easily-maintainable project. Our collaboration with Cal Poly helped us develop several tools for professors that make it easy to keep track of students’ contributions during the school term.
  • The world has yet another open-source repair manual that can be used to fix the device.

 

Student group shows how to adjust the derailleur on a bike.

Student group shows how to adjust the derailleur on a bike.

The vast majority of student contributions result in fully usable, well-written guides. And given our flexibility with project devices, we’ve published everything from a stellar PSP 2000 repair manual to a great set of repair guides for a Volvo 740.

With the help of Cal Poly, Ohio State University, CSU Los Angeles, University of Maryland, Cuesta College, James Madison University, University of Wisconsin Stout, and University of Maine, we’ve been able to publish over 350 student-authored service manuals (comprising over 2,000 guides). That’s a great start, but there are still thousands of devices that require repair manuals.

We would love to include other universities across the United States. Our online-based program easily scales to accommodate several more schools that might be interested in our program. So if you know of a professor or other faculty member at your local university and think they might benefit from collaborating with iFixit, please send them our way!

4 Comments

  1. Go Cal Poly! Love the work you guys are doing!

    Comment by Alex W — December 6, 2011 @ 4:42 pm

  2. I am an instructor at the El Paso Community College and see tremendous application in other fields besides electronics.

    Comment by Dave Davis — December 7, 2011 @ 7:26 am

  3. What a great idea. Please let me know if I can assist you in spreading the word among the Association of Teachers of Technical Writing (ATTW). I think several of the educators I know would think this is a great idea!

    Scott Abel
    The Content Wrangler

    Comment by Scott Abel — December 8, 2011 @ 4:28 pm

  4. Hi,
    I am not a student but I want to write few guides to present them with my resume. How can I start writing guides with your help?

    Comment by rainsk — December 9, 2011 @ 11:56 am


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