Purpose: The goal of this article is to make the case that technical standards can be valuable educational tools for technical communication teachers. The article argues for the pedagogical value of standards through an examination of one particular standard: the Tag Data Standard, published by GS1. The analysis focuses on areas in which the document could be improved by technical communication practitioners and students.
Method: The data for this article come from the 126-page Tag Data Standard. The standard was inductively analyzed using grounded theory and involved a second coder. The research question that guided this analysis was, "How could this comprehensive standard be improved by trained technical communicators?" The goal is to show how technical standards could be used to provide students with real-world texts to analyze and edit.
Results: The data show the TDS could likely be improved if technical communication practitioners were more involved in the writing process to focus on issues of consistency, audience, and design. The article uses those results to show why standards could be valuable educational tools for teachers.
Conclusion: Standards are a crucial form of technical communication. They are an example of how language shapes the material world. The analysis in this article shows that these crucial documents can be improved by skilled technical communicators and can serve multiple pedagogical goals, including showing students how documents shape materiality and providing students with comprehensive, real-world texts to work with and improve.
Frith, Jordan, "The Pedagogical Opportunities of Technical Standards: Learning from the Electronic Product Code" (2020). Publications. 54.