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Tutor first overseas recipient of US Award

Media Release – Wednesday 23rd January 2008

Pioneering tutor first overseas recipient of US Award

Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology (CPIT) tutor, Alison Reynolds, has just been awarded the Jay. R. Gould award for excellence in teaching technical communication by the US based Society for Technical Communication. This is the first time in its 50 year history that the award has gone to an overseas recipient.

The Society for Technical Communication (STC) is the largest organisation of its type in the world with 14,000 members. The Jay. R. Gould award was initiated to acknowledge the importance of academic programmes to the science and practice of technical communication and to honour those who have made an outstanding contribution to teaching the body of knowledge in this area.

In announcing the award, Chair of the STC Award Committee, Carol Barnum, said that Ms Reynolds’ thirty years of work in the fields of technical communication and information design had earned her the accolades of “visionary” for her first online usability course, “courageous” for the development and promotion of technical communication in New Zealand, and “role model” for her rigorous teaching and mentoring.

“Technical communication as a profession and the Society for Technical Communication have grown and profited from her service to her students and to the ideals of excellence this “vibrant and infectious” learner and teacher has exemplified, said Ms Barnum."

During her career as a technical communication teacher, researcher, mentor and practitioner at CPIT Alison has initiated and led many innovative and inspiring technical communication projects.

In 1995 she established not only the first technical communication programme in New Zealand or Australia but also the first entirely online programme in this field internationally.

“A delegation of local software and electronic manufacturers approached CPIT with a proposal to introduce New Zealand’s first technical communication programme to meet the shortage of suitable employees in the discipline,” says Alison. “Right from the start, it was obvious that our population base was too small and too geographically isolated to be viable for face to face delivery so we opted to go entirely online. This made us the first technical communication programme to do so internationally.”

From 1996 until 2006, Alison led this initiative to develop the Graduate Diploma of Technical Communication (now known as the Graduate Diploma of Information Design or the GDID). In 2006, she relinquished her leadership of the GDID to establish and manage the Information Design Centre NZ (the IDCNZ) and usability lab. This highly successful project offers interns and graduates from around the globe an opportunity to work with clients in New Zealand and internationally on usability projects that contribute to the design of manufactured goods, websites, and E-Government documents.

Patrick Hoffmann, user experience designer for Google in Sydney, who nominated Ms Reynolds for the award says he could not think of anyone more deserving.

“I have witnessed the unique teaching styles and daring initiatives of many academic colleagues and peers from around the world. However, none have touched me, surprised me, and inspired me in the way that Alison has,” says Patrick.


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