Webinar Season Is Underway!

By Viqui Dill, proud IDL Programs volunteer

The 2018-2019 season of webinars is up and running. As you know, our IDL SIG produces educational webinars that are free to members as a benefit of membership. Students and academics also attend for free.

Check out the lineup we have in store.

  • Aug. 13 Lights, Camera, Action! Exploring Video Basics for Non-Production Professionals by Darcy Beery & Stacy Barton

Find out more about the topic and the speaker, and sign up on Eventbrite https://www.eventbrite.com/e/lights-camera-action-with-darcy-beery-and-stacy-barton-tickets-48218082583

  • Sep. 13 Technological Adaptability: Formalizing a Vital Skill by Melonie McMichael

Find out more about the topic and the speaker, and sign up on Eventbrite https://www.eventbrite.com/e/technological-adaptability-formalizing-a-vital-skill-webinar-with-melonie-mcmichael-tickets-47898380345

  • Oct. 11 Can You Hear Me Now? Podcasting as a Teaching Tool by Jennifer Goode

Find out more about the topic and the speaker, and sign up on Eventbrite https://www.eventbrite.com/e/can-you-hear-me-now-podcasting-as-a-teaching-tool-webinar-with-jennifer-goode-tickets-48312478925

  • Nov. 14 Saying, “Yes, and…?” to Leadership Opportunities by Ben Woelk

Find out more about the topic and the speaker, and sign up on Eventbrite https://www.eventbrite.com/e/saying-yes-and-to-leadership-opportunities-webinar-with-ben-woelk-tickets-47930022989

  • Dec. 6 Teaching Technical Writing to Engineers —What Works? by Noel Atzmiller

Find out more about the topic and the speaker, and sign up on Eventbrite https://www.eventbrite.com/e/teaching-technical-writing-to-engineers-webinar-with-noel-atzmiller-tickets-48773716499

Do you have an idea?

We are always looking for speakers and ideas for topics. If you would like to speak, know of a good speaker, or have an idea for a good webinar topic, contact me directly at programs@nullstcidlsig.org. We would love to make you a star!

Upcoming Events

You can see the full list of upcoming events on our Facebook events page and can register there using Eventbrite for easy ticketing. Check it out https://www.facebook.com/pg/STCIDLSIG/events

Past Events

See our library of past events on our YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCW68UREs2Cxs6KJUM7nZdtA/videos

And find the complete library of videos, slide decks, and handouts on our website http://www.stcidlsig.org/membership/webinars/free-recordings-of-idl-sig-webinars-for-members/

Li-At Rathbun Feels Our Pain at #STC18

By Viqui Dill, IDL SIG co-manager and proud member of the Technical Editing SIG  

Watching Li-At Rathbun work a room is a joy. That’s why I knew that her presentation, “We Stoop to Conqquer: Adjusting to Mediocrity,” would be a must-see for me at the 2018 STC Summit. Once again, she did not disappoint.

Rathbun’s presentation was about technical editing. But the principles could be applied to any type of project management. Technical writers in every specialty have to make decisions about how to balance the sides of the scope/schedule/cost triangle. Excellence is often given a lower priority due to resource and schedule constraints. In this session, she addressed two important questions: “When our boss or client says ‘good enough’ work is good enough, shouldn’t it be good enough?” and “Why is it a struggle to produce mediocre work when that’s what the customer wants?”

Li-At Rathbun puts her own spin on the project constraints triangle: fast, accurate, accessible.
Li-At Rathbun puts her own spin on the project constraints triangle: fast, accurate, accessible.


Rathbun reinforced the project constraints triangle that managers often use to make choices between the competing demands for quality, scope, and cost. Creating a safe space for open discussion, Rathbun devised a “cone of silence” and even gave us our choice of male, female, or gender-nonspecific anonymous names. Let the healing begin.

Attendees began sharing their painful stories about projects for which they had to let go of quality for the sake of a deadline. We heard real stories from frustrated editors, writers, and managers. I can’t disclose specifics, of course, but I can reassure you that if you’ve ever been asked to hurry up and not be so picky, you’re not alone. Also, lots of SMEs think that good writing is easy. Hilarious.  

Rathbun has the gift of engaging an audience and drawing them out. When writers or editors asked a difficult question, she turned to the managers in the crowd for an answer. She kept the conversation going and reassured attendees that the struggle is real. She also encouraged us to share our coping strategies, keeping the discussion upbeat.

I left the presentation feeling energized and affirmed. I am not alone in having to balance and let go. The room was full of fellow travelers who have to make hard choices. We accept mediocrity for the sake of cost and schedule. We live to write again on the next project.

My favorite take-away came from attendee Kathy Johnstone who advised that we keep three priorities in this order: get it done, get along, and get it right. Relationships and team morale are more important than perfectionism and will ensure that the next project goes smoothly. Sometimes we just have to let it go.

See the session details on CrowdCompass here


Wed, May 23rd, 10:10 AM, Li-At Rathbun introduces herself to the attendees at “We Stoop to Conqquer: Adjusting to Mediocrity.”
Wed, May 23rd, 10:10 AM, Li-At Rathbun introduces herself to the attendees at “We Stoop to Conqquer: Adjusting to Mediocrity.”


Designing and Running Engaging Activities for Seniors

by Rachel Musicante

One of the hardest parts of my job as an activities director at five assisted living facilities is coming up with activities that appeal to people of varying ages, cognitive abilities, and interests in the space of an hour. Each week, I visit each facility twice, and engage small groups of 4 to 12 residents in activities such as bingo, trivia, Scrabble, and card games. I would like to share with you some of the fun and creative ways that I have risen to this challenge in the three-plus years I have been an activities director at my current workplace.

One of the best ways to get all participants involved is to give each person a voice. This can be effectively accomplished through group discussions. I use online and print resources to identify topics that are likely to catch people’s interest, such as current events (especially slightly controversial ones), unusual court cases, and philosophical dilemmas. I read the question to the group, then give everyone a chance to express his or her view. Responses can range from interesting insights to off-topic musings. For one particular resident, any view he expresses ultimately meanders back to comments about beautiful women or money. No matter. The point for me is for each person to have a chance to contribute something positive to the atmosphere, to have a voice.

Another fun way I reach residents is through music. Even residents who are non-verbal or suffering from dementia respond to music, especially when it accompanies a lively ball game that really wakes people up and primes them to respond.

For a younger and more cognitively advanced group, a special version of “Name That Tune” was a great success. I wanted to pick artists that would be familiar to the members of this particular group and that would call to mind pleasant associations. I chose several singers who had participated in Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie’s “We Are the World” and selected songs that showcased each performer’s style. I played each song to the group and asked the participants to name the song’s title and performer. One particular participant was skilled at quickly picking up the name of the song and its singer, although all of the participants enjoyed the music and recognized at least some of the songs. After playing the individual songs, I asked the residents if they could figure out what all of the singers had in common. They got the answer, which was really gratifying. The activity was fresh and fun, and the investment of effort multiplied the satisfaction of seeing it go over well.

While I previously stated that reaching people of widely varying abilities is the most difficult part of my job, I’ve also come to appreciate that it is simultaneously the most rewarding part. My mother’s oft-stated words rings true here: “What you put in is what you get out.” The investment of effort into any endeavor makes it meaningful and therefore rewarding, and I’ve definitely found this to be true with this line of work. Once the creative juices flow, imaginative approaches that support different learning styles allow me to enthusiastically develop and implement great programs. These energizing activities are fun for the residents as participants, and they are equally rewarding for me to deliver. The joy of hitting on the right combination of preparation, consideration, and energy is the most satisfying part of being an activities director.

Giving Graduates an Edge in the Job Market

By Sylvia Miller, Student Outreach Chairperson

For the third year the IDL SIG is offering undergrad and graduate students a chance to publish an article before completing their degrees through our Student Outreach program. First, students submit a brief article about instructional design to our team of judges. If the judging team deems the article worthy of being published in our newsletter—the one you’re reading right now—the student is awarded a one-year STC membership that includes belonging to the IDL SIG. The potential benefits are multiple. Students can:

  • Get their name in front of hundreds of practicing professionals who read our newsletter.
  • Add a link in their résumé and on their LinkedIn page to the published article.
  • Benefit from feedback of practicing professionals—the judges team.
  • Present their published article during job interviews.

And that’s not all. With the student’s permission, the IDL SIG will submit articles we publish in this newsletter for inclusion in the Technical Communication Body of Knowledge (TCBOK). If the article is accepted for inclusion in the TCBOK, the student will earn an additional one-year STC/IDL membership! He or she can also insert another link in their résumé to the article in the TCBOK, which is available for reference by thousands of professional technical communicators.

Here is what L. Stoe said about having his article published in our newsletter:

“Being published under the Student Outreach Program provided a forum for me to apply and test my skills learned in my classes in Technical Communication & Professional Writing. The competitive process was fun and increased my self-confidence. I printed the published article and showed it as I interviewed for a new position as a technical publications writer just last month. I got the job and definitely feel that the published article helped me. Having a published article to show others strengthens any portfolio. I encourage others to go for it... I cannot overstate how nice it was to show my article during my interviews.”

Please help us spread the word!

Please help us advertise this unique opportunity for graduate and undergraduate students to have an article published. Share information about the 2018-2019 Student Outreach program with colleagues, students, professor/instructor friends, friends with college-age children, and anyone who stands to benefit from gaining an edge in today’s job market.

All necessary details are at http://www.stcidlsig.org/students/youcanbepublished/, including a list of potential article topics, contributor guidelines, frequently asked questions, and a submission form. Thank you in advance for sharing this opportunity with others.

Book Review: Charles Ess – Digital Media Ethics

Reviewed by Elizabeth Patterson

In Digital Media Ethics, Charles Ess explores the ethical issues encountered in digital media from a global perspective. Ess focuses on issues and legal regulations within the US, EU, and Asia. Some of the main topics covered in the book include privacy, copyright, citizen journalism, and general digital media ethics. Ess goes into great detail about each topic, and includes case studies and discussion questions within each chapter of the book. The layout and structure of the book are perfect for students and classroom settings.

One of the strongest qualities of this book is the detail throughout. Each topic is explored thoroughly, and includes related case studies and discussion questions to allow the reader to contemplate the content on an even deeper level. In addition, Ess does an excellent job of helping the reader to understand data mining and ways in which privacy can be maintained while using digital media by exploring relevant cases that have taken place in the US, EU, and Asia.

Ess also does an excellent job of exploring the ethics behind copying and distributing property through digital media. With the increasing amount of information available online, “the general rules, guidelines, and laws applicable to such copying are wide-ranging and frequently shifting” (p. 91). This can make it difficult to truly understand the ethical and legal ways to access and use property. Ess helps explain this by explaining FLOSS (Free/Libre/Open Source Software) and the Creative Commons approach. While some of these concepts can be challenging to understand, Ess does a commendable job of pulling content from websites and licenses while supplementing with his own explanation.

While Digital Media Ethics contains many strengths, the content is somewhat dense in some places. The discussion questions throughout and at the end of the chapters are helpful in examining certain concepts on a deeper level, as well as breaking up the text. While Ess does a great job of explaining certain topics such as copying and distributing property, some sections of the text are overwhelming and difficult to follow. For example, one chapter focuses on privacy in the electronic global metropolis. While this chapter contains valuable information and relevant case studies, it is easy to get lost in some of the extensive descriptions and concepts, which are arguably over-explained.

As mentioned before, because of the discussion questions that are used to break up this book, it would be a good choice for school and university courses that emphasize digital media and information ethics as seen throughout the world. This book could work for undergraduate discussion-based courses, but because of the complexity of some of the concepts, graduate and doctoral courses would especially benefit from this book, particularly courses that are seminar based.

Outside of a university setting, Digital Media Ethics has relevance to just about any profession. Documentation managers, who are in charge of managing both the creation and maintenance of documentation within their organizations, would find this text especially useful. Many of the resources used today to assist in research and writing are online. While the book is somewhat dense, Ess does an excellent job of explaining the most relevant ethical issues in digital media today. Documentation managers would be able to relate to some of the cases discussed within the book, as well as benefit from the explanations and resources provided in the chapter, “Copying and Distributing via Digital Media.”

As a high school teacher, I am constantly looking for ways that I can teach my students about the importance of digital media ethics and online privacy and safety. While Digital Media Ethics is a much higher-level book, it includes topics and case studies relevant for high school students. Ess argues that, “it becomes increasingly essential, for example, for young people to participate in social networking sites – failure to do so threatens to isolate them from the large majority of their peers who are active on such sites” (p. 121). This claim demonstrates the popularity of social media, and therefore the importance of understanding how to navigate the sites ethically and safely. Safe internet use is a growing need among high school students and Ess does a good job of beginning to discuss this, as well as including some thought-provoking discussion questions that would benefit students of all ages.

Digital Media Ethics is an interesting read that focuses on ethical scenarios encountered online on a daily basis. While the book is relevant to today’s society, it is not a light read and does require some deep thought and consideration that would be great for university teachers and students to utilize within an ethics course. The chapters are packed full with case studies that would also greatly benefit technical writers, documentation managers, and those who work with and use online content frequently.