November 13, 2017 IDL SIG Virtual Open House

Join the IDL SIG online for our Virtual Open House!

4:30 pm Pacific / 5:30 pm Mountain / 6:30 pm Central / 7:30 pm Eastern

Monday, November 13, 2017


Register on Eventbrite

As a virtual community, with all of our members scattered across the globe, we do not have the same opportunities as geographically-based communities to meet up face-to-face. Since 2013, we have hosted the IDL SIG Virtual Open House (VOH) so that new and prospective IDL SIG members could learn more about our community’s mission and goals, learn more about member benefits, and meet some of our leaders and volunteers.

During our VOH, participants have always had the opportunity to ask questions about the SIG and what we offer.

Virtual Party, too!

We’d like to combine our VOH with a virtual party (VP), where we would encourage all attendees to share a photo or story. The VP (not be confused with Vice President!) we hope will add a very human, personal side to our VOH. Hey, it is all about making real, enduring connections!

About the webinar

The webinar will be recorded so feel free to watch with us online and then rewatch at your leisure. No need to take notes. If you cannot attend, sign up anyway so that you will get a link to the recording.

See the 2016 VOH recording on YouTube.

See the 2015 VOH recording on YouTube.

See the 2014 VOH recording on Adobe Connect.


Register on Eventbrite

IDL SIG Virtual Open House November 16, 2016

IDL SIG Open House Nov 10, 2015

The Newsletter Q3 2017 IDeaL: Design for Learning

From the Editor

By Crista Mohammed

Hello SIG members! Here’s another exciting issue of IDeaL: Design for Learning.

In this issue, we present a wide range of articles. One “cluster” (if you will) touches on hot topics in the ID field, and the second cluster treats with critical “housekeeping” ( if you will again, please pretty please) . So what’s on offer, specifically? You asked, so here’s our answer:

Viqui Dill uses an apt sports analogy to describe the trainer’s role. She convincingly argues that trainers are not coaches (aka “drill sergeants”), but cheerleaders. This article is bewitching: It is easy to read, yet treats with a complex issue in IDL--the training persona. How does the trainer locate him or herself in relation to participants? How does the trainer construct an identity that is supportive of learning? Read more…

Phil Havlik reduces his training evaluation to four critical questions. This is quite an achievement, let me tell you, as sometimes the evaluation form is harder to complete than the training! In devising our evaluations, Phil advises us to bear in mind that participants want to complete their evaluations quickly and that trainers need detailed feedback: These seemingly competing demands can be met with a few, well-placed questions. Read more

David Dick tackles a problem that is endemic to all modern enterprise: If your business uses ICTs, then legacy systems are a huge problem (and headache). David’s article prompts us to carefully think through and plan for technology migrations. For example, is there need for training of newer staff in legacy systems so that there is continuity? Read more...

Allie Proff chronicles her personal journey from never having attended a conference to becoming a regular presenter at the STC Summit. Allie’s sharing of her personal doubts is courageous and frank. She ends with sensible advice on how to overcome that anxiety. Her most powerful argument? We all can bring value to our community through presenting our work: What stands in the way is our self-doubt. But you can conquer those fears, like Allie, and when you do, you will find the experience affirming. Read more...

Marcia Shannon encourages us to become Certified Professional Technical Communicators. This is another courageous bit of sharing. Examining her decision to seek certification, Marcia reveals that the decision was both deeply personal and professional. Marcia provides solid advice on how you too can earn your Professional Technical Communicator certification. Congratulations to Marcia on becoming a CPTC. Read more…

Viqui Dill in her co-manager’s column reports on the the last quarter. Lot’s have been going on and the SIG will be delivering lot’s more in the final quarter (can you believe it?) of 2017. Don’t miss out. Read more…

Lori Meyer recently renewed her STC membership for the 33rd time. We join Lori in celebrating this AMAZING milestone. In her co-manager’s column, it is clear why Lori has been a member for so long: She finds great value in her membership. She has built a network of STC friends that has been supportive of her career and you can too. Read more...

Marcia Shannon in her Secretary’s column continues where Lori left off. She adds to the long list of benefits that STC and IDL SIG members reap. For additional, compelling reasons to join or stay with us, read more…

Sylvia Miller issues another call for student essays. Yep, our first student outreach essay competition was a resounding success! We attracted and published several student articles, and our SIG earned the STC 2017 Pacesetter for this initiative!  Read more...


About IDeaL: Design for Learning

RAH! RAH! RAH! Training is more Like Cheerleading than Coaching*

By Viqui Dill

Some folks talk about training as “coaching." I think they have the metaphor wrong. Coaching means developing skills within a team by repetitive drilling and motivating them using a combination of respect and fear. Real training is nothing like that. Real training is more like cheerleading than coaching.

Engage the Players (Learners)

So I’m standing in a conference room with my trusty slide deck and handouts, looking out at the other folks in the room for my training. My position looks like it’s up front but really I’m on the sidelines. The real action will be with those learners.

The learners are the real players, the real action in the game. The learners are going to make or break the training. If they’re tired or bored, they won’t engage and they won’t learn. We don’t have a lot of time here and this training session is costing the company a boatload. When you count up all the hours of preparation, then the total hours for all the bodies here in the room, then measure the slow climb up the learning curve for the learners, you know there’s a lot riding on this training. These learners are going to make the difference in whether the investment will pay off. I know I’ve got to engage them in the short time we have together.

So we start off with an icebreaker, the part of the game when the team leaves the field house and comes running on to the field. And I’m cheering like crazy, trying to call the players by name and praising their ability to answer the icebreaker quiz questions. It’s exhausting but it pays off hugely if the learners are energized and engaged by the interaction.

Then we start exploring the content. My favorite training sessions are the ones where we all work together, ditching the PowerPoint slides for real hands-on learning. First I give a short demo, then the real players do their magic. I shout, “Hit ’em again, hit ’em again! Harder! Harder!” and they do.

If I’ve done my job, the process is easy once you know how. The learners pick up the skill and the underlying technology or the system it runs on. They carry the ball down the field. “This isn’t so hard. I can do this on my own next time.”

The last part of the session will tell how well we’ve done. We review what we learned, review expectations and collect feedback from the training. If things went well, the feedback will be upbeat and energizing. If things didn’t go well, the team will wander back to the locker room and leave the champagne corked for another time. Negative feedback is sometimes tough to hear, but it does let us know how to make the next session better.

But let’s go back to what happens when we win. At the end of the winning game (successful training), the players leave the room feeling like winners. They have learned some new skills and have confidence they can do it on their own, and maybe even show the new skills to their coworkers.

Engage the Crowd (User Community)

Another function of cheerleaders is to engage the crowd and get them cheering. In the training world, this means inspiring the user community so that they will see the trainees as rising system experts. The more that the user community recognizes local system experts, the less work for you as the trainer. Everyone prefers asking a coworker for help over having to search for an answer in the online help or opening a customer support ticket. If you can get the user community to see each other as the system experts, you will have fewer questions to answer and fewer customer support calls to take. It’s a win for the home team and a big win for you.

When the Cheering Stops

After the game, when the team and spectators have gone home, we celebrate the win or mourn the loss. If we’ve done a good job, the whole organization benefits. The learners go back to work confidently using the system to accomplish their goals. Their goals are not to be a great system user. Their goals are to be a great doctor, lawyer, or master craftswoman who happens to use the system. They become great clients, providers, and colleagues. They make the world a better place, thanks to you and your effective training.

Let’s cheer about that!

*The article was first published by insynctraining™ at:

After the Webinar, how did we do?

By Phil Havlik

In my experience, what makes the best training evaluation questions really depends on what types of information you're looking to capture, who you're asking, and how long you've kept them as your prisoner.

At my previous company where I was an Instructional Designer within a larger training team, we used a series of generic questions following every training module. It was the same questions every time, and I don't even recall what was asked. Our primary interest was reviewing for the inevitable complaints, errors in content or programming, or grumblings our global user base cared to share with us. We had Likert scale questions, but the numbers didn't really mean much, especially given the total number of users who were required to complete the suite of training modules each year.

Asynchronous training can be like talking to your computer, unsure if anyone is listening or if your mic is even turned on. So getting feedback is always appreciated.

As the trainer, I of course want all the detailed feedback that I can get. As a participant, I want to click as little as possible and get back out. I currently have four standard questions on the docket:

  • Did you learn something new by attending this webinar?
    • Yes, this was all new to me.
    • This was a refresher, but I learned some new tricks and/or a method I didn't know before
    • This was a refresher, but I didn't learn anything new
    • Other (Let us know more below)
  • Rate this webinar offering compared to other webinars? (5 = Best, 1 = Worst)
  • Any additional feedback for our staff? We'd love to hear it. (Open answer)
  • We're testing some new software features and need some volunteer testers. Could you help us?

Sometimes for fun, depending on the seriousness of the topic and or attendees, I might throw in something like "Rolling Stones or Beatles?", "What's your favorite season?" or something similar to lighten the mood.

I won't say I've gotten this exactly right, but I think keeping questions few and focused on the desired outcome (did you learn something new by sitting through this) point in the right direction.

Talking Usability: Legacy Systems and Their Impact on Users*

By David Dick| STC Fellow

Users generally do not care if a system is based on an old method, technology, or computer system. Users want reliable, dependable, and secure systems. Every year, IT managers meet to discuss how to replace legacy systems. As long as these systems adequately serve the organization and the budget does not allow for modernization, they are likely to remain unchanged. IT managers need to weigh the cost and risk of keeping legacy systems, such as end user support, training, documentation, and security.

Employees that provide end user support of legacy systems must be retained, because they are familiar with users’ frequently asked questions and know how to work around common problems. Unfortunately, whenever they are out of the office, their absence creates a backlog of help desk tickets that cannot be answered until they return, preventing users from performing their work. Another dilemma is that when these employees inevitably move on or retire, they take their knowledge with them. Service companies might be able to fill the gap, but ultimately they also struggle to find experts with the right skills.

Training for new users on a legacy system is often nonexistent, because the only people capable of providing the training are the same people that provide end user support. Even if there is a user guide or tutorial, users still prefer to call the help desk. Often, the help desk will perform the task because it’s easier than explaining to a user how to do it.  IT managers need to be aware that a lack of training is creating additional work for the help desk.

Documentation on the design of legacy systems might exist, but it likely hasn’t been updated. Documentation is always needed whenever new system administrators, stakeholders, and IT managers want to know how the system processes data, generates reports, connects to the network, and interfaces with other systems. IT managers can create the unrealistic expectation that system administrators and staff maintain documentation, but neither of these groups have the time for such a daunting task.

If a legacy system is created on a platform that a vendor no longer supports, a third party vendor must be contracted to support it. However, operating systems without security patches are prone to hacking, viruses, and other malicious attacks. If it’s not possible to update security patches, the only option to protect the system is isolating it from the rest of the enterprise, which might not be practical if it interfaces with other systems. The value that system security auditors provide is conducting network scans to identify system vulnerabilities and bringing them to the attention of system owners.

All things considered, legacy systems provide critical services to organizations, and replacing them isn’t easy. That’s why IT managers need to be aware of the people who ensure those systems are up and running, and the impact those systems have on users.


*This article first appeared in STC Notebook  at: