Service Learning and DH in the Technical Writing Classroom: the iFixit Project

For this panel, I will discuss and promote a service learning project with a company called iFixit that I was involved with as an instructor of technical writing at the University of South Florida. iFixit advocates self-repair of electronic devices to help reduce the global spread of e-waste (pollution caused by the dumping of used electronic devices into third-world countries). To assist the self-repair movement, iFixit publishes repair guides on their website, and we at USF had engineering students work with the company to create some of these guides. To do this, students researched a device they were given to find common problems, and then write a troubleshooting guide, device page, and sets of instructions to remove specific components of the device for repair. Students also had to take their own photographs and write accompanying text to walk users through the replacement of components. The assignment relates to DH not only in that it requires students to perform web design using a wiki-based program, but also in that it requires them to think about the lives of their electronic devices and what happens to these devices after they’re discarded.

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About Daniel Brown

I am currently a visiting instructor teaching professional and technical communication at the University of South Florida. I have a Ph.D. in English literature, earned from the University of Florida in 2012, and a M.S. in Information Science, earned from the University of Michigan in 2003.

3 Responses to Service Learning and DH in the Technical Writing Classroom: the iFixit Project

  1. Great talk on the ethics of technology and DH, as well as how we can contribute usefully to improving a digital world. Are there unique skills that DHers have from the humanities (e.g., writing, rhetoric, intercultural competencies) that might make them particularly well poised to write user texts? Thanks for proposing this!

  2. This sounds great! The University Writing Program at UF offers a number of Technical Writing/Professional Communication classes and an instruction manual is generally one of the assignments that students work on. I think we will have some UWP instructors at THATCamp Gainesville and I am sure they will be interested in this session!

  3. Suzan Alteri says:

    This sounds super interesting!

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