IDL SIG Newsletter: Editor’s Column

by Paul Scott, Instructional Design and Learning SIG, Newsletter Editor

Hello, and Happy June!

This is our strongest issue since I became Editor of this newsletter. I'm very pleased with it.

It helped that we had some great awards and honors this quarter, both to the SIG and within it. We've also had great success with the student outreach and new member outreach programs, which have brought us some excellent new talent, on top of the top talent we already had.

"On Top Of The Top." New slogan?

This Quarter's Issue:

IDL SIG Manager’s Column: Maralee Sautter

Hello!

Here is my first newsletter column as IDL SIG manager since I stepped up to the position in May. Currently, I’m catching my breath after the flurry of Summit activity. But not me alone; all our IDL SIG volunteers were very busy with Summit virtual events this year. Even as I exhale in my weariness, I can only say that I’m happy to be part of this incredible team. 

If you weren’t able to attend the Summit or the SIG’s virtual events, please sit back and enjoy a nice recap of some of our Summit events.

Social Networking Event - Mon, June 7, 2021 

Each of us is YOU-nique! Attendees lauded our SIG virtual event as one of the most fun events of the Summit. We asked attendees to go on a scavenger hunt in their homes, bring back items they found, and share “finds” in the Zoom screen with us. People shared their stories of why the item was special to them, and we learned how each story was unique, but still part of the human fabric that binds us. Behind the scenes, SIG volunteers were surreptitiously spotlighting, learning about, and screen-grabbing photos of the attendees. In the end, a special scrapbook page was assembled and sent to each attendee who participated. If you don’t believe that it was fun, check out the YouTube video,

Summit Honors - Tuesday, June 8 

The STC Summit Honors Event was inspiring for us since not only was our community awarded a Bronze Community Achievement award, we received the Most Improved Community of the year. Of course, there were a lot of other awards and honors given out during the event.  Congrats to all! For a list of the STC honors and awards, check out the STC Honors and Awards page. Click here to see this great event in retrospect. Watch now, because this link may not be available for long.

STC SIG Open House - Wed, June 9, 2021 

The virtual open house was an opportunity for members and non-members to explore STC SIGs in 15-minute increments and an opportunity for attendees to visit 3 SIG breakout Zoom-rooms. In the IDL SIG breakout room, we had people sign up for a drawing, explore our website, ask about membership status, and find out more about the SIG. In the background, we had a recurring slide deck touting what we do as a SIG. The chat was lively, and we gathered some exciting ideas for future webinars.

IDL SIG Annual General Meeting (AGM) - Tue, June 29, 2021

Typically, we meet in person at the Summit to conduct our SIG business meeting. Because Summit was virtual this year, face-to-face didn’t happen. We were busy planning the social event and the open house, so we postponed the AGM. That gave us the time to plan an awesome virtual meeting that let us all get to know our community from different leadership perspectives and we had fun with SIG awards, chatting, and drawings. Please check the meeting out on YouTube—it’s well worth your time.

Together with the rest of the volunteer team in the SIG, I hope you have a great summer!

Maralee Sautter

IDL SIG Treasurer Report – 2021 Q2

Jamye Sagan, IDL SIG Treasurer

How much money do we have?

As of June 28, 2021, we have $991.92 in our account - $491.21 from community funding and $500.71 in our vested funds. 

Since Quarter 1, we have incurred the following expenses: two speaker honoraria for our March 30 and May 20 webinars, two student STC memberships from our Student Outreach Article program, and Summit registration for our SIG Manager. 

In the next few weeks, we plan to renew our Zoom and Survey Monkey subscriptions. We use Zoom to conduct our educational webinars, leadership meetings, and virtual social events. We use Survey Monkey for our demographic surveys and elections. Since we have a subscription, we’ve enabled other STC groups such as the Community Affairs Committee to host their recent tools survey.

Where do we get our funds?

Our primary source of income comes from community funding and vested funds. Community funding are funds we receive from the STC office, based on SIG membership numbers. We receive a certain dollar amount per member. Since these funds do not carry over from year to year, we must use them or forfeit them. 

Vested funds are funds we have earned through the years. These funds can carry over year after year.

We constantly review our budget to see where we can save costs and, most importantly, how we can use our funds to best benefit you – our members. 

We’d like to hear from you!

If you have any questions about SIG finances, please email me at treasurer@nullstcidlsig.org.

Featured Article: 2021 Leadership Program: The STC Superheroes Journey (May 19, 2021)

Mellissa Ruryk

I went to the virtual Leadership event on May 19, 2021, and had an informative, fun time.  "Leadership Day" is usually held in person at the Summit, so it was great to see more people (than just those registered for the Summit) attend. Ann Marie Queeney ran the show and announced the Community Achievement Award winners, the Pacesetter winners , and Distinguished Service award winners. Our IDL SIG won a bronze CAA award and Lori Meyers received a Distinguished SIG Service award for all her valuable volunteer input.

There were 4 breakout sessions in the last half hour of the event, and I chose to attend the one on Student Outreach, run by John Clement. His information centered on student chapters at universities, which was not the info I was looking for or expected. However, he made some good points:

  • In order to increase attendance at your community education events, ask what your members want to learn about (rather than relying on thinking you know what they want).
  • Ask your members what topic in technical communication they can share on, help them learn presentation skills
  • Provide as many networking opportunities as possible, perhaps centering on career readiness, résumé writing, interview tips and techniques, etc.

Even though I'm a senior TW and have held many positions in the IDL and 2 geographic chapters, I still like to attend Leadership day because I can always learn more about how to volunteer more effectively.

Viqui Dill

Congratulations to the STC CAC team for organizing a great Leadership themed event, 2021 Leadership Program: The STC Superheroes Journey recognizing the superhero in all of us. Anne Marie Queenie and her team put together an informative and engaging session. We were encouraged to use the chat to interact with friends, old and new. Then there were the presentations celebrating accomplishments through the year. With so much going on, I barely had time to text with my STC pals as the show went on LOL. Seriously, the CAC caped champions showed us how it's done!

Anita Matechuk

The CAC virtual leadership program was a great way to learn about STC. As a new member, exploring how to create a successful SIG and chapter has really helped me understand how STC can support me in my journey into a career in technical communication.

I started just taking the free webinars but soon registered to become an STC superhero. Seeing all the awards and the process involved in winning them showed me the possibilities for an active STC member. It was great listening to all the experienced STC members discussing what they probably considered common insights in this new and exciting world.

Jamye Sagan

For the second year in a row, the CAC hosted its leadership program virtually. In only two hours, we got to hear from STC leadership, recognize community award winners, and learn about clever initiatives from Pacesetter Award-winning communities. Our program ended with a choice of breakout sessions; I co-hosted the CAA one. It’s always a treat to chat with my STC friends and meet new ones.

Featured Article: Student Networking and Peer Learning in Post-Secondary Education—In-person and Virtual

by Anita Matechuk

As I come to the end of my second post-secondary experience, I am reflecting on the differences between my two learning journeys. I first obtained a degree in engineering in an in-person environment. Then I took my technical communication certificate virtually.

My in-person schooling experience

Okay, here I am really going to date myself, but I took my engineering degree before students had laptops. We had computers, but they were big and bulky, and you didn’t take them to class with you. Instead, university consisted of in-person lectures where you sat with your friends and madly tried to write notes while listening to the professor and responding to questions if asked. Multitasking at its finest!

You were lucky if the professor used the blackboard because their hand got just as tired as yours did. The professor was smart enough to use an overhead projector in some classes to show their prepared notes. With this style, you needed to split up the sections to record with your friends so you could swap notes and get them all.

Sitting next to other students in class, social activities, and communal activity locations allowed for unstructured networking opportunities and study groups. For example, the 20-person card games in the student lounge led to homework parties and all-nighters in the computer lab together.

The peer learning that occurred in these groups was essential in my schooling. While learning independently, not understanding an assignment or part of a subject can make you feel alone and unintelligent. It helped to discuss the material with other students. When all else failed, marching down to the professor’s office hours with 10 other students having the same question definitely removed the stigma of “it’s just me.”

My virtual schooling experience

I took virtual classes to complete my technical communication certificate. Gone were the hours of note-taking with other students, and they were replaced with hours of reading and watching videos by myself. Being able to adapt the learning to my schedule and learning style was a huge advantage for me.

I easily reviewed the sections I struggled with, and I didn’t have to wait for others to review the sections they struggled with. Another major asset was the learning options provided by the university. Instead of learning everything in a 60-minute lecture, I could choose to read, look at pictures, or watch videos to explain a section at a time.

While I appreciated the flexibility in this style of learning, it had some drawbacks. For example, selecting a random student to start an email conversation with wasn’t easy. In addition, while I may have talked to myself during virtual classes, no one was there to listen. Still, I found student networking opportunities in other ways.

Building a virtual peer learning network

Both in-person and virtual learning requires students to build their peer learning network, but you have to work a little harder with virtual learning. Before you can build your peer learning network, you need to meet some other students. While this is easier for in-person learning, it isn’t impossible with virtual learning.

Some options for virtually meeting students include:

  • Contact individuals in your class directly. Most virtual schools provide the ability to contact other students for the function of working on group projects. While this is probably the most effective way to build your network, it can feel highly vulnerable and takes practice to become comfortable starting a virtual relationship.
  • Use an established social networking platform. While your school might not provide a social networking platform, the Society for Technical Communication (STC) has a Slack workspace. This workspace is a great place to introduce yourself, find social activities, and network with other students. You don’t want to spam the entire platform with constant posts, but you need to let people know you are there. Private messaging other students who comment on your posts or make their own posts is a great way to establish a network.
  • Attend virtual social activities and interact during the activities. You aren’t going to meet anyone if you don’t give yourself the option to talk to anyone. If you meet someone, exchange your contact information. Not everyone is the perfect fit, and nothing may come from it, but you won’t know unless you try.
  • Volunteer for STC, a Special Interest Group (SIG), or a chapter. The more you participate in activities, the better chance you have of meeting students or other like-minded individuals and professionals. Volunteering also gives you something to talk about when you start your network and can remove some of the awkwardness of meeting new people.

Some options for communicating with your peer learning network:

  • Create a group chat. Pick the social media platform that you are all comfortable using and start chatting. Ask questions about assignments, celebrate achievements, and support each other in your learning. Remember, it can take some time for your network to get comfortable, so don’t be discouraged if you need to help the conversation get started for a while.
  • Plan a small virtual meetup. While this doesn’t provide constant interaction like a group chat, it can be really nice to see another face and just talk. Keeping it small allows for natural conversations without the difficulties of a large group meeting.

A peer learning network can enhance your post-secondary learning, and no one says it has to end when your schooling is complete. You can take your network with you on your career journey and grow your network as you develop as a professional. Networking is an important skill to have as a professional, and if you start as a student, you have a head start!