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

The Newsletter Q2 2017 IDeaL: Design for Learning

From the Editor

By Crista Mohammed

Hello, Readers! Super happy to be delivering our Q2 2017 newsletter. As you know, this is post-Summit. As with all successful conferences, attendees leave re-charged and rearing to go. This positive energy radiates in most of what you will read in this issue, as our contributors are eager to share their summit lessons and experiences.

But, before we get there I must share our good news: We are continuing to reap the rewards of our student outreach competition. In this issue, we share two student essays earning the judges’ nod.

  • Whitney Lewis, reading for a Master's in Instructional Technology and Learning Sciences, explores the value of rapid prototyping in the instructional design process. Read Rapid Prototyping.
  • Viqui Dill, in her co-manager's column, reflects on Summit 2017. She records the achievements of the IDL SIG over the past year and, waxing warm and grateful like only Viqui could, she thanks those who volunteer for the SIG. Read more.
  • Marcia Shannon uses her Secretary's Column to share her Summit 2017 experience. She focusses on how the Summit is helping in her re-visioning of her career. Read More.


  • Jamye Sagan reviews eight summit sessions for us, touching on sessions ranging from how to complement written work with video to tips for professional success. Presenting cliff notes of topical sessions, Jamye gives us many great take aways: Useful to those who want to recall the session and particularly useful to those who could not be there. Read more.


  • Sylvia Miller presents a very careful account of a summit session on Responsive Design. Reviewing Dr. Lanier’s presentation, entitled ““How to Fix the Credibility Problem When Using Responsive Design”, Sylvia has extracted for us the characteristics of a credible website: Characteristics worth remembering as increasingly more content gets accessed from devices with vastly differing screen sizes. Read More.


  • Viqui Dill puts us in touch with what is happening. She reviews some sessions at the STC Philadelphia Metro Chapter Annual Regional Conference. Clearly, they had a blast while learning and sharing! Read more.

Finally, we salute and send out heartiest congratulations to:

  • IDL SIG colleagues who now serve on the STC Board. Read more.
  • The Chicago eLearning & Technology Showcase. It’s their 10th Anniversary. Read more.


Read the full newsletter as pdf here: stc-idl-sig-Q2 2017_Newsletter


About IDeaL: Design for Learning

Co-manager’s report: Thank You Notes

By Viqui Dill

Hey everybody! We had a great quarter and fantastic Summit 2017. I want to take a minute to say woo hoo and thank you (rhyme intended!).

We climbed the #STC17 Summit!

We attended the STC Summit ( at the National Harbor near Washington, DC. There are lots of great photos online. I shared a few of our highlight moments in a post on our website: “We had a blast at #STC17” . There are hundreds of photos on the STC Office Flickr site And, you can read more Summit highlights and reflections in the STC Notebook blog .

At the Summit, we had our annual business meeting. You can download our presentation from our website: .

We earned two awards at the Summit. We received a 2017 Platinum Community Award. Read the official citation on our website .  We also received a 2017 Pacesetter Community Award for our innovative student article competition. Read the official citation and see a photo of us accepting the award at .

Another award to celebrate is the Distinguished SIG Service Award earned by our own Crista Mohammed. Read the official citation and a few glowing words about Crista on our website .

Thank You

I want to thank a few special members personally for their continued support and contributions to the SIG. The 2017 awards show just how strong we are and we couldn’t have done it without you.

Dear Mellissa Ruryk and Robert Hershenow,

Thank you so much for your leadership in 2015 and 2016. During your time, we earned the Platinum and Gold SIG awards! You energized and challenged us into becoming the biggest and most active SIG in STC.

Robert, your webinars about audio and PowerPoint are among our most watched and best loved. We look forward to more great sessions from you in the future.

Mellissa, your webinar about Word™ and your hilarious Speak Easy lightning talk were informative and engaging. And we are so happy that you’ll be continuing to travel along this road with us as our new treasurer!

You both showed us how it’s done and led the SIG to great success.

Dear Jim Bousquet,

Thank you so much for your service as our SIG treasurer. You kept us straight and afloat, and were often the voice of reason in our community decisions. We are so proud of you, as you take up your new role as STC Treasurer . Please do stick around to continue to advise and guide us in the coming year.

Dear Maralee Sautter,

Thank you so much for stepping up as our new webmaster. We are so glad you’re back on the SIG leadership team. Your combination of technical savvy and institutional knowledge are such a gift to us.

Dear Phil Havlik,

Thank you so much for stepping up as our new content curator. This is a new position for us and one that is very valuable to the Society and to the profession of technical communication. We admire your initiative in joining our group and coming forward to volunteer. We look forward to working together to strengthen the Technical Communication Body of Knowledge This is a test pilot role and you’ve got the right stuff!

Dear Sylvia Miller,

Thank you so much for supporting our student outreach program. You helped develop and organize the program, then went way over the top to star in not just one but two live Q&A webinars. Way to get the word out to our SIG, to the academic community, and to all of STC!

Dear Crista Mohammed,

Thank you so much for shepherding our newsletter for another year.

We are proud of the work you’ve done and delighted that you earned the Distinguished SIG Service Award . Having you on the leadership team gives us an international perspective and we appreciate your willingness to put up with the technical challenge of having to speak by text.

Dear Jamye Sagan,

Thank you so much for wearing many hats as you support our SIG. Your continued faithful managing of our social media channels keeps us all connected online by:

Your demographic and other surveys help us stay in touch with the needs of our members. And your webinars , virtual open houses, and lightning talks are the bomb.

Dear Sara Buchanan,

Thank you so much for your faithful service as our membership manager. Your superpowers of attention to detail and warm heart for greeting and welcoming new members are such a blessing to our SIG. And thank you for connecting us to the NEO STC chapter and bringing the “Spotlight” series to our newsletter .

Dear Marcia Shannon,

Thank you so much for being our secretary and keeping this crazy group organized. You do so much more than just take our meeting minutes. I really appreciate how you take initiative to document and archive the random comings and goings of our SIG.

Dear Beth Bailey,

Thank you so much for working behind the scenes to keep our discussion lists alive. We don’t say thank you often enough for managing this valuable service and helping us all to stay connected.

Dear Scott McCoy,

Thank you so much for another year of leading our mentoring program . Your support helps us ensure the future of technical communication.

Dear Preeti Mathur,

Thank you so much for championing our training material evaluations program . We appreciate this free benefit to members and we appreciate you for managing the program.

Dear Summit meeting attendees,

Thank you so much for supporting the SIG by coming to our meeting at the Summit . We were thrilled to see face to face Maralee Sautter, Jessica Surdin, Kelly Schrank, Patty Viajar, Phil Havlik, Chuck Campbell, Mandy Wright, Mary Ollinger, Cindy Pao, Jamye Sagan, Jim Bousquet, Lori Meyer, Marcia Shannon, Mellissa Ruryk, Sylvia Miller, and Li-At Rathbun. We look forward to sharing this journey so that we can all grow and support each other in the field of instructional design and learning.

And finally,

Dearest Lori Meyer,

Thank you so much for being our co-manager. I am thrilled to be connected with you and learning from you about nurturing and growing our community. Your strong leadership, patient mentoring, and organization amaze and inspire me. Thank you for taking up the mantle by chairing and running our annual meeting at the Summit so that I could rush off to sound check the Rough Drafts. I look forward to our journey together and to learning from your superpowers for many years to come. Love you!

More great stuff to come

More great stuff is coming up. Stick with us in 2017 as we live out our SIG mission .

Summit 2017 Reflections and Review

by Marcia Shannon, Secretary


THE (emphasis intended) event of the year, of course, was the Summit, with the theme Gain the Edge to Get Results. Our IDL Sig was well represented by attendees and speakers at a conference packed with education, information, networking, and fun.

I am very glad that I participated in this year’s Summit. I am in the process of taking my career in a new direction and this was an opportunity for exposure to a wide and deep pool of technical communication expertise and experience.

I had several goals for my Summit adventure: to put faces to the voices of the people I have met through online SIG meetings, webinars, and online classes; to freshen my perspective on my career in technical communication; to socialize with fellow tech commers; and to learn about techniques, trends, and theories in technical communication.

Did I gain the edge to generate improvements in my career and in my writing? Yes. I was engaged, energized, and found at least one take away idea in each session. I attended the opening and closing talks and ten education sessions. Two of my favorites were Leveraging Cognitive Science to Improve Structured Authoring, presented by Rob Hanna and A Tech Writer, a Map, and an App, presented by Sarah Maddox.

In Leveraging…, Rob described how to increase the effectiveness of documents by structuring them the same way people think and learn. A Tech Writer… was something of an adventure: Sarah decided that she wanted to write an app that would display a map of technical communication-related events. She described stepping way out of her writer’s comfort zone to learn how to develop the app, how she engaged developers to participate in a group revision of the app, and how we can participate in keeping the app up to date.

Use these links to see and use what Sarah built:

Another engaging (and interactive) session, Gamification of Instructional Design by Phylise Banner, was an introduction to Learning Battle Cards, an instructional design technique new to me. I am still chewing on what I learned and am researching for additional information about this topic. I will have more with details about this in the next newsletter.

Did I meet, interact with, and engage with other people, both known and unknown? Yes, I definitely did all of those. There were plenty of opportunities to network or just chat between sessions, at receptions, breakfast, and lunch. I enjoyed conversing with other techn comm professionals because we shared common experiences and language. Learning one-to-one from someone else and sharing my own expertise made every minute interesting. All of my Summit goals were well met.

If you did not attend the Summit, look for regional conferences, online meetings, and webinars where you can dust off your ideas, learning and teaching with other tech commers. Our SIG will keep bringing opportunities to you, so check the web site regularly.

Rapid Prototyping

By Whitney Lewis 

Rapid prototyping is way to save money and time by getting feedback on your design and ideas immediately. Trust me, it’s the way to go and by the end of this article, you’ll be able to incorporate rapid prototyping into your design process.

Rapid Prototyping and Testing

There are a lot of different ways for testing our instruction. We have one-to-one evaluations; formative evaluation; focus groups; user testing; participatory design; and many more. Including the user is at the heart of these testing strategies, which is no different for rapid prototyping.

Rapid prototyping is testing the design or the instruction as soon as possible at the beginning and then throughout the entire production process. To imagine what this looks like, here is a scenario: I’m creating instruction for a software company. The instruction is on how to use a certain program, so I do some initial steps to get an idea of how this instruction will look. At this point, I could begin rapid prototyping with inexpensive tools like pen and paper. I would sketch out the flow and include as much information as I can, so the interaction is as authentic as possible (for a paper prototype). Now, all I need is to gather 4-5 users from my target population and hold a user test.

This might seem a little weird because we are using paper to test an interaction that may be electronic, but the fantastic thing about rapid prototyping is that it doesn’t matter. You will still learn so much from your users before investing a lot of time and money creating the learning product.

At this point, you have gathered some good insights from your first user test with your first paper prototype. Now, you can create an even more informed second prototype. This process can repeat with a version of the final learning product that is bit by bit more completed and effective than the last. Before you know it, you have a final draft and are ready to do a more formal evaluation for a final deliverable.


Rapid prototyping is testing with your target population at multiple stages throughout the design process. Because the testing is so frequent, the biggest challenge is finding people in your target population for your tests. Depending on your company and the scope of the project, this can be difficult. Even if the resources or people are not available to test a paper prototype or an initial digital prototype, it can and still should be done with either SMEs, the client (whether internal or external), other instructional designers, or anyone. You will still learn much about your design that can be incorporated into your next prototype.


You may have heard the saying, “fail early and fail often”. This seems discouraging, but can be quite liberating when looked at it the right way. So, let’s examine how this aphorism applies to rapid prototyping.

Failing early just means learning that something doesn’t work before a lot of money or time has been invested in it, which is a very good thing. Learning a certain aspect of the instruction won’t work after spending countless hours developing it, can feel like a true failure. But, learning that it won’t work after a low-cost prototype? Well that saves you time, money and effort. The lessons learnt pay rich dividends as they inform the next iteration of the design.

On the flip side, maybe you have an out-of-the-box idea you need to get your manager or client on board with. Testing it early in the process, using low cost materials and without spending a lot of time, could result in finding it is a great way to move forward and now everyone is on board. This is where “fail often” comes into play. Because we are rapidly prototyping without spending a lot of time or money on a prototype, we can try new, creative ideas without the pressure of “I’ve invested so much into this now, it’s got to work!” We can truly participate in the creative process to find ideas that shine.

Overall, rapid prototyping is how we can try out big ideas and, if we are lucky, get the backing for them. Or they can fail: So what? We are still lucky because only a little time and a little money was lost.

How to Start Rapid Prototyping

To start rapid prototyping, you’ll need to know two things: the process and the tools to use.

The Process Tools

 (from low cost/little time to higher cost/more time)

 1. Select the tool for this iteration

2.  Build the prototype as authentic as possible

3.  Test with users

4.  Debrief – understand what was learned and what changes should be made

5.  Repeat the process

  • Paper and pen
  • PowerPoint
  • Wireframing tool (InVision, Axure, Adobe Suite, etc.)
  • Tool used for final product

Videos and Websites on Rapid Prototyping

Here is a list of links to websites and videos with more information on rapid prototyping:





Whitney Lewis is committed to problem solving through design thinking strategies such as empathy, co-design, diverging on problems, and rapid prototyping. She strives to bring these strategies into her educational and professional work by including her audience every step of the way, to gain valuable insights and by starting with low fidelity products before beginning development. During her time at Intuit, Whitney has learned the importance of these strategies as she connects with her customers, to help improve training. She intends to complete her Master's in Instructional Technology and Learning Sciences in May 2018. She aspires to transform online corporate training into seamless and enjoyable experiences.