Call for nominees for new SIG awards program

By: Lori Meyer

We’re proud to call for nominees for our new SIG awards program! Although we are continuing to participate in STC awards programs, our awards will provide additional opportunities to celebrate the contributions of our great volunteers, and put recognition within the reach of more SIG members.

Two awards will be given:

  • SIG Volunteer Achievement Award
  • SIG New Volunteer Award

SIG Volunteer Achievement Award

Who is eligible:

Any SIG member who has at least two years of SIG membership and volunteer activity by January 1 of the year in which they are nominated.

Description of award:

This award is given to a volunteer who has demonstrated consistent service to the SIG over a period of two or more years, either as a volunteer in a recurring role, or as a volunteer who has served in many ways without having held an elected office or appointed position. The award reflects a recipient's contributions such as adding value for SIG members, making volunteers’ jobs easier, encouraging continued participation in the SIG, and demonstrating creativity and teamwork.

SIG New Volunteer Award

Who is eligible:

  • Anyone who has been a SIG member for no less than four months or no more than two years by January 1 of the year in which they are nominated, and has offered significant volunteer activity within that year.

or

  • Anyone who has been a SIG member for longer than one year, but who has offered significant volunteer activity for the first time in the history of their membership.

Examples of significant volunteer activity include:

  • Serving as a committee chair, keeping the committee active, and working with the committee to provide new or innovative services.
  • Taking on a task that solves a SIG problem or that motivates others to become involved as volunteers.
  • Creating an innovative event or process that benefits the SIG.

Description of award:

This award is given to a SIG member who has volunteered for the first time. This can be someone with a year or less of SIG membership who has offered significant volunteer activity during that time, or someone who has been a SIG member for one or more years but who has offered significant volunteer activity for the first time. This award seeks to recognize newer SIG members who “hit the ground running” as volunteers, or longer-term members who never have volunteered before but stepped up for the first time.

We’re looking for nominees for these awards. If you would like to nominate a fellow SIG member, please contact us at manager@nullstcidlsig.org and tell us:

  • The name of your nominee and the recommended award.
  • A description of why you feel this nominee should receive the award.

Please submit your nominations by December 31, 2018.

Volunteers update: Your SIG needs you!

by Viqui Dill, IDL SIG Co-manager

Welcome new volunteers and folks in new positions!

The STC Instructional Design and Learning Special Interest Group is proud to announce that we have a new assistant co-manager, secretary, and treasurer.

Marcia Shannon is moving from secretary to assistant co-manager for the community. Starting in January, Shannon will serve as co-manager and will be assisted by past co-managers, Lori Meyer and Viqui Dill. We are so glad she's bringing her knowledge about the SIG and taking her service to this higher level.

Madison Estabrook is joining the leadership team as our secretary, replacing Marcia Shannon. Estabrook is a graduate student at Missouri State and has been working in the profession for over a year. New to our SIG, she has been an STC student member since May 2017, Technical Editing SIG Quarterly Events Manager since August 2018, and has served as a Secretary for a Toastmasters club.

Jamye Sagan is stepping into the treasurer role, making her the official Swiss army knife of STC. Sagan was co-manager of the SIG from 2010-12, has served as our social media and surveys manager, serves as SIG liaison for the STC Community Affairs Committee, among other significant contributions. We are so glad she will continue to be on the leadership team as she fills this important need for the community.

Lori Meyer will be stepping down from her role as co-manager and taking up the role of membership manager. Meyer brings years of experience as membership manager for a number of STC communities.

Viqui Dill will also be stepping down as co-manager and assuming the programs manager role. She has been passionate about programs and has served the SIG in this role since 2015.

Many thanks to departing volunteers Sara Buchanan, Mellissa Ruryk, and Preeti Mather for their dedication and service as Membership Manager, Content Curator, and Training Evaluations Manager over the years. You will be missed and we can't thank you enough.

We need you, IDL SIG Members:

Our IDL SIG is a very special group of people within STC, consistently recognized as a fun community to belong to, as well as one that is beneficial to our careers. The old saying “you get out what you put in” is so true, but I would say you get back more than what you put in. Even the smaller volunteer tasks make our community more valuable to each of us. Invest a bit of your time and see! We have an immediate need for the following:

  • Co-manager (we need a second co-manager to support Marcia Shannon)
  • Surveys manager
  • Content curator
  • Training evaluations manager
  • Social media manager

See our complete list of volunteer opportunities on our website at http://www.stcidlsig.org/about-idl-sig/volunteer-opportunities/

Please send an email to manager@nullstcidlsig.org if you can help with any of these jobs.

How to Create Objectives

By: Daniel Maddox

Course developers seem to diverge in terms of how to create course objectives. I have observed two very different methods in use. This article examines the strengths and weaknesses of each method.

What do we need to teach?

Commonly, the first question that is asked when we sit down to create a course is, “What do we need to teach?” In a course I took in college, this was the question we were told to start with. It was also the question used by a documentation department I once worked for. This is a very simple question to start with, but it does bring with it some difficulties. Here is a brief description of how this method works:

Stage Description
Initial This question guides everything else that you do. You begin compiling a list of needed course content right off the bat.
1 After you figure out what you need to teach, you start asking questions about who you’re teaching, and what your goals are with that teaching. What is the audience’s background? What are their expectations? Where will they be trained? What technology is available?

It may be at this point that you write down the objectives for the course. However, you might wait until stage 2 or 3, when you have finalized your list of course content. That way, you can roll those categories of content up into objectives at the end of course preparation.

2 Based on your analysis, you create a plan for getting the content together. Who are the subject matter experts whom you need to interview? What will the weekly expectations be for completing the work?
3 How do you ensure that you have taught the content you intended to? How do you ensure that your audiences really gets it, knows what they need to know, and can do what they need to do?

At this point, all that remains is to create the actual course content, deliver it, and evaluate it.

This is a very simple method to use. Anyone can sit down with a couple of subject matter experts or salespeople and write down a list of topics that need to be addressed. And anyone can look at that course content and create objectives that relate to teaching that content. This is really the only strength that I can think of. Simplicity is nice.

There is one glaring weakness with this method: How do you ensure that you have solved the right problem? If you start out by discussing what it is that you need to teach, how do you ensure that, to borrow from Stephen Covey, you are leaning your ladder against the right wall? You can evaluate the course however you want, but if you don’t start out by defining the problem, then how do you know that the successful delivery of a given set of content will solve that problem? This method puts the cart before the horse.

What is the problem? What are our objectives?

Here is a description of the second option we have in creating course objectives:

Stage Description
Initial The first questions you ask are: What do we want class participants to walk away with? What do we want to achieve in this course, at a high level?

Based on your answers to these questions, you create a list of overall objectives right off the bat.

1 Based on your objectives, you know what content you will need to create in order to satisfy those objectives. The content begins to come together pretty quickly and logically at this point.
2 Based on the content that will meet the objectives, you figure out how to create and deliver the content in a way that satisfies the objectives most directly.
3 To do this right, you just go back to the overall objectives. Does the course content get us to these objectives?

In this situation, you will know at the end of your evaluations whether or not the course was successful in solving the original business problem.

There is a higher up-front cost to using this method. You might need to have a separate, initial meeting with subject matter experts to nail down overall objectives before you can begin actually deciding what content to deliver in the course.

Recommendations

How do you move from option #1 to option #2? What if there is significant resistance to this change in your organization? What if people just want to ask, “Hey, what do we need to teach here?”

Why not start with a testing of the new method? Use the old method to create one course. This is your control group. Then use the new, objectives-focused method to create a course. When you have performed your evaluations, go back and compare the two methods, to see which actually did more to solve the problems that they were created to solve. With careful analysis, you and your management will see how much sense it makes to create objectives before thinking about what content to deliver.

Jamye Sagan hosts our Sixth Annual IDL SIG Virtual Open House

Watch the Virtual Open House here

On December 7, 2018, SIG members and STC members gathered online for our sixth annual Virtual Open House. Jamye Sagan, longtime SIG leader and enthusiastic volunteer, opened the program which began at 7:30 pm Eastern time. Sagan chaired the meeting and welcomed attendees, inviting everyone to feel at ease and join the conversation.

Lori Meyer,  IDL SIG co-manager, presented the mission and goals of our group and stressed that members are welcome to join the group to build their skills, stretch their knowledge, ask questions, and try things out.

Sagan then introduced the team leaders one by one, highlighting the value that each area brings to members. Viqui Dill talked about the webinar series that showcases experts in our field and stressed that SIG members can attend or watch the recordings for free as a benefit of membership. Meyer presented again, this time about her role as co-manager and her passion for recognizing volunteers through our new SIG awards program. Next, Marcia Shannon discussed her role as assistant co-manager and her upcoming role as co-manager beginning in 2019, and the empowerment offered to volunteers to learn, grow, and stretch. Sagan then presented about the role of secretary and introduced our new volunteer, Madison Estabrook. Sagan followed that with her discussion of her current roles, generously wearing the hats of treasurer, social media manager, and surveys lead. Dill presented the role of membership manager and thanked Sara Buchanan for her many years of faithful service. Kelly Smith introduced herself and the newsletter, IDeaL: Design for Learning, inviting attendees to submit articles to be published online.  Shannon and Sagan gave an update about the Student Outreach Program chaired by Sylvia Miller, which offers the opportunity for students to be published before they graduate. Meyer presented the role of content curator and thanked Mellissa Ruryk for filling that need in . Sagan gave an update about the website maintained by Maralee Sautter, the training evaluations program, and some of our other SIG programs, the discussion list maintained by Dr. Elizabeth Bailey, and the STC mentoring program championed by Scott McCoy.

Sagan then summarized the benefits of membership, including the opportunity to meet face to face at the STC Summit and attend the educational sessions specific to IDL. Meyer summarized the benefits of volunteering and invited attendees and members to take the next step and support the SIG. Sagan explained how to join the SIG and invited attendees to sign up, then presented contact information including links to our social media outlets.

Congratulations to Paula Robertson, Angelina Nachimuthu, Kelly Smith, and Marcia Shannon  who won the Amazon gift cards at the end of the meeting. An informal discussion about IDL and the cats we love wrapped up the meeting, offering us another opportunity to connect online.

Many thanks to attendees and presenters, especially to Jamye Sagan for bringing us the Sixth Annual IDL SIG Virtual Open House.

InterChange 2018

By Viqui Dill

On October 26 and 27, the New England chapter held their annual InterChange regional conference at the UMass Lowell Inn and Conference Center in Lowell, Massachusetts. IDL SIG members were well represented, both as attendees and as presenters.  

This year's theme was “Engineering Experiences”. The conference website explains, “Technical communicators have always crafted stories and experiences for users using their words and technical expertise. As technology evolves, the need to craft effective and engaging experiences is more important than ever.”

Danielle Villegas, IDL SIG member and president of the STC Philadelphia Metro Chapter (STC-PMC), delivered the keynote, “What is Experience to a Technical Communicator?” Villegas shared several examples of content that was focused on user experience in popular culture, television ("The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel"), advertising (Sandals, Royal Caribbean), restaurants (Japanese steakhouses), technical manuals (Porsche) and even Ikea stores. She explained why each was effective and urged us look for opportunities to create experiences in our own deliverables.

Kelly Schrank, IDL SIG member and president of the STC Rochester chapter, delivered a session about “Engineering Your Networking Experiences” on Friday. Schrank gave tips about getting the most out of networking at conferences and other technical communications gatherings before, during, and after the event. She reassured the group that these events are not just about passive learning but are also great opportunities to make connections with other professionals. Schrank dispelled many myths about networking, including “some people like networking” and “some people are naturally good at it” and gave us actionable tips for setting goals, starting conversations, and remembering names.

Cindy Currie, STC past president (2009-2010), presented “Press Play! The Power of Personal Energy Management” and urged attendees to care for themselves physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. Currie gave us five steps to personal wellness: boost energy; make a list, not a schedule; evaluate energy levels; set priorities; and be flexible.

Liz Fraley presented “Getting the Most out of TC Camp (or any Other Volunteer-driven Event)”, sharing the story of TC Camp and the TC Dojo, sharing tips on working with volunteers.

Viqui Dill (that’s me) presented “#PowerOfStory - The Cultural Program That got me Clicks” to close out the educational sessions on Friday. You can see my slides online and let me know what you think.    

Lou Prosperi presented two sessions about Imagineering. Session 1 was “Imagineering and Technical Communication: A Match Made in Disneyland” and introduced the Imagineering Pyramid. Session 2 was “Designing Your Experience the Walt Disney World Way” based on the Imagineering Process. Read his post about the event on his blog, The Imagineering Toolbox.

Liz Fraley presented again, this time delivering “The Future is Decided by Your Actions Today”. Fraley encouraged us to adapt to change, rather than waiting to be forced. Her presentation included tips for how to ask questions, listen, research, and think. She suggested adding the job description “TechComm Psychic” to our skillset.

Steven Jong, President of the New England chapter, presented again about generational differences in his “Writing and Working Across the Generations” session. Jong introduced us to the population pyramid and gave tips for engaging Baby Boomers, Gen Xers, and Millennials. See his slides and reference links on SlideShare.

Chuck Campbell, IDL SIG member and frequent conference speaker, presented “Engineering Better Training Experiences through Innovative Presentation Techniques and Technologies”. Campbell gave us a fresh look at PowerPoint presentations, showed us how to leverage simple animation techniques, and gave a demonstration of the Ipevo interactive whiteboard system.

Bernard Aschwanden, STC past president (2015-2016), presented “Create Once. Publish Many.” and took us through a live demonstration of interactive content strategy, development, and publishing.

After the conference, I went to dinner with fellow attendees Donna Riedman, Chuck Campbell, Kelly Schrank, Bernard Aschwanden, and my son Jim Dill.  The next day, Jim and I took a side trip to Maine. We look forward to attending InterChange every year. 

Congratulations on a great conference to all the planners and volunteers in the New England chapter.

See all the tweets from the conference under the hashtag #InterChange2018 and make plans to attend the next time in 2019.