We had a blast at #STC19

We had a fantastic Summit! Here are a few highlights of our trip.

We had our annual Honest-to-Goodness Face-to-Face Business Meeting & Lunch Buffet 2019.

We made presentations. We attended presentations.

We hung out together.

It was a great week of learning and networking.

STC19 IDL SIG Business Meeting

STC19 Hi Lori

STC19 Jim Dill at Play in Denver

From the editor – Q2 2019

By Kelly Smith

Welcome to our Q2 newsletter! I hope you are energized from Summit! This was my favorite Summit yet, and I think what made a difference is that I’ve gotten to know so many great people in the past five years. Volunteering for the SIG and for my local chapter has strengthened friendships and bonds with people I rarely see in person and gave me a chance to attend my first Leadership Day. It was a great opportunity to learn from STC’s senior leadership (including our new president, Ben Woelk) about how we can motivate STC members and strengthen all our communities. If you haven’t yet taken on a volunteer position in a SIG or your local chapter, I highly recommend it! You’ll have fun, work with great people, and have another accomplishment to add to your résumé!

I know I learned a lot this year and I’m eager to hear what topics interested all of you. If you want to write an article about your experiences and what you learned about instructional design and related topics at Summit, please send it to me at newsletter@nullstcidlsig.org for publication in the Q3 newsletter.

This quarter, we have a good selection of student articles, as well as the regular updates from our leadership team, so without further ado, here are the articles for this issue.

In her manager’s report, Marcia Shannon talks about her experiences at Summit. And don’t forget – if you’d like to be co-manager, contact Marcia. Remember, our SIG is only as strong as our volunteers!

Jamye Sagan’s treasurer report gives a brief summary of our financial health and expenses.

Lori Meyer wrote about our SIG’s first award recipients. Certificates were handed out at the SIG lunch at the Summit in Denver.

Lori also wrote about the different recognition opportunities at STC and provided information on how to apply for them.

SIG member Adele Sommers writes about learning myths. Check out her article to see why you should always critically examine claims – even those made by experts!

Student Outreach manager, Sylvia Miller, has collected 12 articles from students on various ID-related topics. This quarter, we are publishing four of them. Congratulations to the winners and look for four more articles in next quarter’s newsletter!

Can Schools Survive the Information Age? by Ainsley Ma

Best Practices in Designing Instructional Material by Alyssa Haffejee

Effective Use of Games in Instructional Design by Mike Fowler

The Use of Media in E-Learning by Julian Hoh-Il Synn

If you are a student who would like to contribute to the SIG, or if you are a professor or teacher and would like your students to get involved in STC, please contact Sylvia!

If you have an article related to any aspect of instructional design, please send it to newsletter@nullstcidlsig.org. We welcome submissions from all our members and would especially like to see book reviews and bios of new members. The deadline for our Q3 issue is August 3, 2019.

Kelly Smith
Kelly Smith

Kelly Smith has been Managing Editor of the IDeaL newsletter since May 2018. She also serves as membership manager for her local chapter – STC Southeast Michigan. Kelly works as Senior Technical Writer at Dart Container in mid-Michigan and has been active in the STC since 2015.

The Use of Media in E-Learning

By: Julian Hoh-Il Synn

The use of media has been a great benefit to education. There are many ways that media has impacted our learning such as message boards, social media, and various software. This article will explain the use of various forms of media in e-learning. Additionally, the article will discuss which form is the most useful and efficient, and which ones are less so.

Message Boards

There are many resources online that very intuitive and easy to use. For example, Internet message boards can be helpful. These include websites like Stack Overflow (https://stackoverflow.com) which helps programmers with their code if something isn’t working properly. There are also various forums around the Internet that can be very helpful. People can help each other out by posting a problem, and multiple people can post solutions. This could be even more helpful than sending e-mails. Not only can the sender and receiver view the message, but so can other viewers on the message board and the rest of the Internet. This is more efficient because anyone can view the problem, and if the solution is posted, then there will be fewer people asking the same thing. People can simply search it and the answers will show up.

The Blackboard Tool

Blackboard (https://blackboard.com) is a more formal version of an Internet message board that is used in many schools today. It is used for sending announcements, uploading documents, writing journals, and keeping up with course content. Students can even post on the discussion board, which can be helpful. However, most students never post on the discussion boards unless the teacher makes it mandatory for a grade. They mostly use it for submitting assignments, completing quizzes, and checking announcements, which may already appear as an e-mail anyway. In this regard, it may be better for a student to look up their solutions online, through Stack Overflow or otherwise. Perhaps e-learning modules could be implemented into Blackboard in the future, such as how Adobe Captivate helps people learn in a more visual way. This could give more of an incentive for students and help them learn better. However, students can use other means to get help. The answer is social media, our next topic.

Social Media

Social media can potentially provide a helpful form of learning. People can form groups on Facebook to ask questions about what they missed or concepts they didn’t understand. A classmate can then answer their questions. They can also upload files to encourage further discussion. YouTube can be helpful because of videos that people can post online. For example, if one needs help in Adobe FrameMaker, they can go online to check useful videos so they can see a demonstration. Anyone can search for help on any subject. It could be troubleshooting issues, advice on installation, tips on using different software, and so on.

LinkedIn can be helpful since people in high positions in important companies, recruiters, or employees in a field of interest can inform others of relevant trends. They could post articles to showcase their skills and relay information to others. Connecting with experts in the field can prove to be useful. Videos can also be posted on LinkedIn for viewing relevant information.

Video Tutorials

Teachers can upload videos for complex topics like engineering or medicine to help students learn better by using visual examples and demonstrations. This is especially helpful for a visual learner. Not everyone will have certain software installed on their computers. Therefore, in this case, they can utilize the videos to learn quickly without having to visit their school or library to use the software. Lynda.com (https://lynda.com) is also a website that people can use for learning through videos.

Video tutorials may have some potential to replace in-class learning. However, some people may prefer actual classroom interaction rather than videos. This is usually because videos feel more distant and informal. What if someone wanted to ask a question? Asking in person will take five minutes. E-mails could potentially take days. Learning online can be efficient but the lack of personal interaction could cause issues for some people.

While videos may be informative, some argue that not everyone has the time to watch videos. It may, however, appeal to those who want to learn visually as opposed to reading walls of text. Shorter videos would increase retention as a result because viewers would pay more attention if the video was short and concise. However, through video usage, these days there are several tools for learning. For example, people can use Adobe Captivate, PowerPoint and Prezi to present information in a more visually appealing way. Images should naturally fit with the page and be easy to view for best results. Google Docs can be used to edit in real time so everyone can see what’s being edited. WordPress is also used for editing and creating websites, and can be used for informing others of certain topics.

Final Comments

In conclusion, there seems to be many possibilities for e-learning. However, we also notice that there are advantages and disadvantages to these different types of media in e-learning. Message boards are more archaic, but can get the job done for simpler tasks. Social media can be helpful to many groups of people who can help others simply by viewing the posts and uploading files. Using software has become a helpful way to display information in an appealing way. Depending on the topic at hand, one must judge for themselves which tool is the best for learning, because each type has its own uses.


Justin Ferriman, July 21, 2013. https://www.learndash.com/how-to-effectively-use-video-for-training/

YourTrainingEdge, April 12, 2017. http://www.yourtrainingedge.com/how-social-media-is-effective-for-e-learning/

Laura Lynch, March 27, 2018. https://www.learndash.com/6-social-media-platforms-and-how-to-use-them-for-your-e-learning/

Julian Hoh-Il Synn is a student at Seneca College in the Technical Communications program and has an undergraduate degree from the University of Toronto. Julian decided to go into the technical writing field and so joined Seneca to further hone his skills. Julian has several other skills including web programming, SQL, content management systems, and knowledge in software development. Julian believes that by using these different skills, he can excel in the technical writing field greatly and gain an edge. He is currently in a work-study position and hopes that by getting actual hands-on experience in the field, he can finally confirm that technical writing is right for him.

Effective Use of Games in Instructional Design

By: Mike Fowler

Games have been a part of human history going back to ancient times, and with the prevalence of computers, gaming consoles, and mobile devices in the world today, gaming is more common and accessible than ever before. Playing a game is a great way to entertain yourself, but more than that, a game can be a great way to learn a new skill or concept without it feeling like a tedious lesson. Different game mechanics and strategies can help the mind think and absorb information in unique ways. This article discusses some best practices to follow when designing a learning game (also known as a serious game) with a focus on digital gaming for business-related learning outcomes.

Gamification vs. Game-Based Learning

As Holly Bradbury puts it, gaming is, “the application of game mechanics to a non-game activity.” One common way to gamify a work activity is to add additional rewards for completing tasks beyond expectation. A sales competition where employees compete for the best sales record to win a prize could be considered an instance of gamification. Gamification is useful for incentivizing employees to perform tasks with which they are already familiar to a higher degree of professionalism. It doesn’t, however, do much in the way of teaching the user how to accomplish tasks in the first place. On the other hand, game-based learning involves building a game from the ground up with the specific goal of teaching a user how to complete a task or achieve a goal. Steven Boller notes that a good learning game will employ gaming mechanics and gameplay goals which utilize “the science of how we learn […] such as spaced repetition and feedback loops” to reinforce the intended lesson of the game.

Goals of Game-Based Learning

The main purpose of a learning game is to help users achieve an instructional goal while creating a more exciting and engaging learning experience. Getting better at any task involves practice, the same way getting better at a game involves practice. Having the user perform repetitive tasks in a gaming environment makes them practice while not realizing it, so when they perform the task in an actual work environment they already have the skills they need. They are less likely to make costly mistakes because they have already had the opportunity to make those mistakes and learn how to avoid them in a no-consequences gaming environment.

Best Practices for Designing Game-Based Learning Programs

Make Sure the Game is Audience-Appropriate

Always consider your intended audience; they should be the ones that dictate what your final learning game looks and plays like. A younger audience, Duane Shoemaker suggests, may respond better to a fast-paced action game, while an older audience may be the opposite, preferring a turn-based game they can play at their own pace. If the game is intended for a company’s employees, consider what personality types are attracted to the company or industry. A computer programming company and a women’s cosmetics business will probably attract a completely different type of person. Personality type could have a large impact on a game’s visuals and overall appearance, as well as on the gameplay itself.

Know Your Gaming

Before attempting to design a learning game you should be familiar with gaming in general. Common gaming mechanics and conventions give a developer a pre-established platform on which to build. You want this game to be educational and informative, but you also want it to be fun; if the game is not enjoyable it defeats the purpose of learning through gaming in the first place.

Understand Learning Games as a Genre

Learning games are unique when compared to other games. The primary purpose of most games is simply to be fun, leaving a designer a great deal of freedom. The primary purpose of a learning game, however, is to teach users to understand a concept or complete a task while still being, as both Bradbury and Boller put it, “fun enough” to make the learning experience enjoyable. A learning game is a teaching device first, and a game second.

Have a Clear Purpose

While designing your learning game, be sure to always have your purpose at the forefront of your mind. The purpose of a learning game is to help the user achieve a learning goal and every aspect of the game should be working toward this goal. While considering which activities to include in a game and—as Shoemaker mentions, even where to include them—a designer should have a clear idea of what they intend the user to learn from the activity. Boller discusses how, when designing a game intended as a training module for employees, a designer should understand the company’s goals and make sure the gameplay and gaming objectives relate appropriately.

Keep it Simple

Complex games can be fun for a gamer playing for the sake of gaming, but this is not the goal of a learning game. To most effectively communicate learning information—especially more complex information—the gameplay itself should be as simple as possible while remaining entertaining. Long activities and complicated rules can detract from the learning process, making the game more about the game and less about the learning.

Playtest and Get Feedback

Boller also emphasizes the importance of playtesting—the process of having members of your game’s intended audience play your game and provide feedback. This integral part of game design is even more important when developing a learning game, since they must be fun but also educational. Playtesting can give game designers different perspectives based on the types of personalities and knowledge levels of their playtesters. The process can help to iron out kinks in gameplay, identify any points that may be confusing, and provide other suggestions for improvement. Knowing beforehand how your audience will receive your game can save them headaches and frustration, neither of which are conducive to a learning environment.


A learning game can be a great way to teach a user a task or concept, but it should be approached quite differently than a regular game. A designer should invest a good deal of time in planning a learning game so that it will be able to achieve its teaching goal while being audience appropriate and entertaining. A learning game should be simple on the surface, while making use of the science of how human minds learn, and should keep business goals and learning objectives as its top priorities.



Bradbury, Holly, Instructional Design vs. Learning Game Design: What’s the Difference?, 2017, http://www.theknowledgeguru.com/instructional-design-vs-learning-game-design-whats-difference

Bradbury, Holly, Gamification vs. Game-Based Learning: What’s the Difference?, 2017, https://www.theknowledgeguru.com/gamification-vs-game-based-learning

Boller, Steven, Are you an Instructional Designer, a Learning Game Designer or Both?, 2014, https://elearningindustry.com/are-you-an-instructional-designer-a-learning-game-designer-or-both

Boller, Steve, 4 Learning Game Design Mistakes Instructional Designers Make, 2017, https://elearningindustry.com/4-learning-game-design-mistakes-instructional-designers-make

Shoemaker, Duane, Games for Learning, 2010, http://www.instructionaldesignexpert.com/games_for_learning.html

Mike Fowler is a student attending the Technical Communication program at Seneca College. He has had a very successful first semester and is looking forward to his Work Integrated Learning semester working for the Royal Bank of Canada. Mike’s hobbies include playing guitar and playing games of all kinds.

Best Practices in Designing Instructional Material

By: Alyssa Haffejee

Instructional materials are tools that can be used to support teaching and learning. They are any resources used to help teachers teach, like a textbook or workbook. When designing instructional material, you want the content to be designed to promote learning. By following these best practices, you can improve your instructional material for better retention.

Choose an instructional design model

Follow a pre-existing design model to help shape your content in a way that will best suit your material and your readers.


The ADDIE model consists of five phases:

  • Analysis
  • Design
  • Development
  • Implementation
  • Evaluation

The ADDIE model is used to create learning experiences, courses, and instructional content.

The first phase is the analysis phase. It defines the instructional problem, the instructional goals, the learning metrics, and the reader profile. Next is the design phase where the learning objectives, method of instruction, and content are defined. Then comes the development phase, which involves taking the information in the design phase and developing the content and learning interactions. The implementation phase is when the content and materials are input in to the Learning Management Systems or given to the trainers. Finally, the evaluation phase determines the effectiveness and success of the material created.

The ADDIE best fits organizations that adopt a waterfall methodology.

Sam Model

The SAM model develops instructional material through iterations. It is an agile process created for performance-driven learning. The model is broken down into three large phases: the preparation phase, the iterative design phase, and the iterative development phase.

So Who Is SAM?  Friesen, Kaye And Associates 2018 https://www.fka.com/so-who-is-sam/.

The preparation phase is where background information is collected. Next is the iterative design phase. It starts with a collaborative brainstorming meeting then rotates through design, prototype, and review stages. The third phase is iterative development. It involves cycling through the developmental, implementation, and evaluation stage.

Unlike the ADDIE model, the SAM model is a better instructional design model for organizations that encourage flexible processes and fast feedback.

Learning Circle Framework

The Learning Circle Framework includes three phases: target, create, and launch. Much like the SAM model, the Learning Circle Framework is an agile-friendly model.

Learning Circle Framework
Learning Circle Framework. https://www.instructionaldesigncentral.com/learning-circle-framework

The target phase defines the focus of the content, the audience, and any other information that should be considered when creating the material. Then is the create phase where the learning materials are created, tested, and revised. Finally, there is the launch phase, which is concerned with material delivery.

Chunk your information

Chunking information is when you group information into bite-sized amounts. It enhances comprehension and memory. By organizing information into manageable chunks, you will help your audience follow and remember the lesson.

Be precise

What do you want your audience to learn from the material? This question should help pinpoint exactly what you should and shouldn’t include.

Follow Mayer’s 12 multimedia design principles

Richard E. Mayer defines 12 principles that should be followed when creating multimedia presentations. The 12 principles are founded on how people learn better in multimedia lessons such as e-learning materials or PowerPoint presentations.

  1. Coherence: Remove extraneous words, pictures, and sounds.
  2. Signaling: Add cues that highlight the organization of the material.
  3. Redundancy: Add graphics and narration.
  4. Spatial contiguity: Present corresponding words and images near each other.
  5. Temporal contiguity: Present words and images simultaneously.
  6. Segmenting: Present information in user-paced segments.
  7. Pre-training: State the names and characteristics of the lesson’s main concepts.
  8. Modality: Add graphics and narration.
  9. Multimedia: Add words and images together.
  10. Personalization: Use a conversational style.
  11. Voice: Use a friendly human voice.
  12. Image: Don’t add a photograph of the speaker.


Learning is an individual process. We all have different learning styles and preferences. Give your audience the best possible opportunity to learn by following these best practices when designing instructional material.


 "Instructional Design Models". Instructionaldesigncentral.Com, 2018, https://www.instructionaldesigncentral.com/instructionaldesignmodels. Accessed 3 Dec 2018.

"Learning Circle Framework". Instructionaldesigncentral.Com, 2018, https://www.instructionaldesigncentral.com/learning-circle-framework. Accessed 3 Dec 2018.

"So Who Is SAM? - Friesen, Kaye And Associates". Friesen, Kaye And Associates, 2018, https://www.fka.com/so-who-is-sam/. Accessed 3 Dec 2018.

Mayer, Richard E. Multimedia Learning. 2nd ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009.

Alyssa Haffejee describes herself as a professional brunch eater, and graduate student in the technical communications program at Seneca college. She is about to begin her Work Integrated Learning semester at Nuclear Waste Management Organization as a developmental communications student. She also has an undergraduate degree in professional writing from York University.