IDL SIG Newsletter Editor’s Column and Table of Contents Q4 2021

by Paul Scott, IDeaL Newsletter Editor

It’s 11:30 pm on December 31, 2021, and I am about ready for a long winter’s nap. But we have a full slate of articles this quarter, and I need to put this issue of IDeaL to bed before I can put myself to bed.

2021 has been, as they say, a year of challenges—another one, after 2020. 2022 is shaping up to be another. Sometime soon, I vote for a vacation from challenging years. For now, though, I hope you enjoy reading these as much as we at IDL SIG enjoyed preparing them.

Maralee Sautter will tell you why she joined the SIG and what she has realized from her (sizable) investment of time over the years. Maralee then sums up the year with her Q4 manager’s column.

The leaders of IDL SIG talk about some of their favorite moments of 2021 and goals for 2022 in our year-end round-up. Then Lori Meyer brings her experience as a past membership officer for the SIG to talk about the benefits of STC Gold membership.

Ruth-Anne Klassen is our Student Liaison. Our student members rotate in running our First Friday at 5 SIG mixer, and she gives us a look into all 12 mixers this year. Our student members bring a lot of value to the SIG. And last, but never, ever least, SIG Treasurer Jayme Sagan rounds off the year with her Treasurer’s Report.

And that is all for 2021. I hope that everyone’s new year is calmer, more welcoming, and more prosperous.

Why I joined the Instructional Design & Learning SIG

A personal journey

By Maralee Sautter

Why did I become a member of the IDL SIG? Maybe the IDL chose me, or maybe I was following an intuitive path that clarified when I joined the SIG. The outcome, however, was serendipitous.

What’s My Backstory?

My journey started over 23 years ago when I became a member of the STC. Technical writing was an exciting path into a career full of possibilities. To discover the many facets of technical writing, I nurtured my tech-comm knowledge by attending Willamette Valley Chapter program meetings and pursued a secondary degree in technical writing at the local university in Portland, Oregon—Portland State University (PSU).

Most of my technical writing jobs in the Willamette Valley area, dubbed the Silicon Forest, have been in high-tech; however, a side trajectory unfolded when I was asked to teach Technical Writing in 2007 at my alma mater, PSU. As an adjunct instructor, I was able to teach in-person classes in the evening, which allowed me to continue my day job. Eventually, I created e-learning modules for some of my writing classes, which allowed me to teach online (asynchronously), never having to set foot on campus. These modules were delivered through Blackboard and Desire to Learn (D2L), two online learning management systems. 

As I pursued tech-comm, I developed stronger writing skills, prepared and delivered PowerPoint presentations, and studied the tools of the trade, such as FrameMaker, HTML, RoboHelp, and Flare. I attended as many STC conferences as financially possible—one of the best ways to learn about technical communication. 

In 2006 at the Summit in Las Vegas, Nevada, Jane MacKenzie presented a web-design and user interface session, which was so inspirational that I became her greatest fan. (Jane is a former SIG manager, 2004–2007, and a Performance Consultant and Instructional Design Mentor). In 2007 I joined the SIG’s leadership team as secretary at the Summit in Philadelphia. Then I moved on to the co-manager position along with Jamye Sagan. (Yes. I’m SIG manager for the second time around.) 

What’s My IDL Connection?

In retrospect, it seemed as though I followed Jane, but in reality, there was an underlying connection between my passion to teach, and desire to learn the tools of the trade, plus a willingness to rub shoulders with the IDL knowledge-bearers.

Our SIG’s mission is to help STC members identify and develop knowledge and practical skills to design, develop, and implement technical instruction in electronic and traditional classroom settings. The SIG strives to promote sound design practices and provide information and education about instructional theory and research. 

Our goals are similar to other groups, such as the Association for Talent Development (ATD, formerly ASTD) and the International Society for Performance Improvement (ISPSI). While training and teaching are important, the way we design and write our materials connects us to STC, because we focus on technical writing, communication, and the user experience. 

Promoting a practical approach to teaching and virtual learning is why I remain an instructional designer and teacher at heart, because I derived my knowledge through experience and practical application. Over the years, STC and the SIG have provided me with many opportunities to learn IDL practices, and I’m delighted to be a member of both.

IDL SIG Manager’s Column Q4 2021

By Maralee Sautter

Year-end review

The winter solstice has arrived in the northern hemisphere, and 2021 is ending. The days are growing longer, and the nights shorter. The weather is cold with snow predicted in my part of the world—the northwest coast of the USA. Sitting by the fire brings about reflection, warmth, and memories of a year of IDL SIG accomplishments. (If you’re bathed in warmth or heat where you are, you are lucky!)

The IDL SIG team has been very busy during this last quarter of 2021: delivering great programs, fun social events (such as our Virtual Open House), a contest that all STC members could enter, and a 2-hour, interactive workshop. Our student-run First Fridays at 5 meetups have been highly successful, and a great place to chat, learn, and exchange ideas. We have many accomplishments under our collective belt this year because we have an amazing volunteer team with innovative ideas and the initiative to take them into reality. We are already planning for 2022 and have great programs and benefits lined up for you.

By the way, if you haven’t had a chance to renew or join STC, be sure to do it soon. The official deadline is December 31, but there’s still time afterward. To join or renew, click STC Join-Renew and be sure to select Instructional Design & Learning as your SIG of choice. Depending on your membership category, you may have to pay a few extra dollars, but we are worth it!

We are looking for enthusiastic volunteers who are willing to learn. If you are interested in joining our team, please send an email to Anita at If you want to explore leadership opportunities (co-manager wanted), please email Maralee at

While we all have been through a lot during the pandemic, I hope that everyone in the IDL SIG & STC family is looking forward to 2022 with optimism. Let’s make it a great year!

Featured: 2021 Year-End Roundup

Members of the Instructional Design & Learning SIG are teachers and lifelong learners to the core, which means we never stop learning and are willing to share our knowledge. For the year-end roundup in this year, a tradition that Marcia Shannon started in 2020, volunteers participated in answering questions about their most memorable learning experiences in 2021, and goals for 2022. 

What was your most memorable learning experience with STC or the IDL SIG in 2021? 
Marcia Shannon Yoel Strimling’s Summit presentation: So You Think You Know What Your Readers Want. Yoel presented his research results, which you can use immediately to improve your writing and reach your audience.
Anita Matechuk STC had many great webinars to offer in 2021. The most memorable webinar I attended was Traci Nathans-Kelly’s presentation, Leveling Up: Maximize Presentation Potential.  I enjoyed it so much that I bought her book!
Ruth-Anne Klassen Volunteering at the 2021 Summit was a great learning experience. It also opened the way for me to meet the IDL group, and what a great group they are!
Lori Meyer I served my third STC chapter presidency in 2020-2021, and gained much wisdom about working with chapter leaders. I was reminded of the importance of listening, being mindful of leader needs, teamwork, and strengthening support for recognition. I’m thankful to have worked with a great leadership team who supported and challenged me.
Maralee Sautter STC and our SIG provide many learning opportunities. My favorite was Catherine Wicksell’s article: Original Remote Instructors: ID Lessons from TVs Greatest Teachers and her IDL webinar.
Priyank Aggarwal The Technical Writing Bootcamp by Leah Guren was my window into the world of technical writing. It acted as an appetizer and I am hungry for more now. Also, the knowledge exchange discussion about the tools Instructional Designers use was very informative. It also allowed me to meet veteran ID professionals.


What was your most memorable personal learning experience in 2021? 
Marcia Shannon Probably learning how to use Slack, at least the basics. Still confuses me but practice will make the difference.
Anita Matechuk Getting my assignment back after I combined my skills in creating quilting classes with my technical writing. The assignment gave me the option to “write it any way you choose,” so I wrote it for an instructor who needs to confirm the same information for 25 different assignments. The comments of “I just completed a 12-hour day, but I don’t want to put this down” showed me I can focus on the audience experience and still provide solid technical documentation.
Ruth-Anne Klassen I was so happy that I finally learned to drive and got my license after 8 years of having my “Learner’s” License.
Lori Meyer I’m continuing a journey of learning more about UX writing and how it can contribute to more usable products. I attended a UX writers’ conference earlier this year, which was a great experience. 
Maralee Sautter Using YouTube videos, I learned how to repair and maintain my lawn mower and weed eater.
Priyank Aggarwal I am in the process of learning InDesign, and I’m trying to understand how Slack works.


​What is your goal to advance your career in 2022?
Marcia Shannon Modify my status to semi-retired by finding part time writing or editing gigs.
Anita Matechuk My first goal for 2022 is to submit a grant proposal.
Ruth-Anne Klassen If all goes as planned, I will finish my Certificate in Technical Writing and move away from retail work.
Lori Meyer Three, actually:
1) I plan to continue building my skills in UX writing.
2) Learn Markdown, which some of our developers use for internal documentation.
3) Do what is necessary to put together a solid proposal for Summit 2023, and submit a clear and well organized proposal.
Maralee Sautter I’m looking forward to the STC Summit in Chicago, because I always learn a lot at the conference. And networking is a great way to find jobs, so I hope nothing stands in the way of meeting in-person in 2022.
Priyank Aggarwal I plan to continue building my skills in Tech Writing by learning InDesign followed by Camtasia. I have also enrolled in a writing bootcamp starting in January.


​What new or special activity would you like to accomplish in 2022?
Marcia Shannon Travel to see my family in Maryland and Pennsylvania and New York. I look forward to meeting my new great-grand-niece.
Anita Matechuk I want to learn how to make lefse.
Ruth-Anne Klassen Make more friends in my city!
Lori Meyer I’d like to learn how to draw something more sophisticated than little stick men. 
Maralee Sautter I want to take a hot air balloon or glider plane ride in the upcoming year. 
Priyank Aggarwal I want to build a side business and promote myself as an online language teacher. I would also like to learn how to doodle on paper. 

Gold membership: A great value proposition for STC members

By Lori Meyer

This year, I joined seven STC Special Interest Groups (SIGs). Normally, the total cost would be $55.00. The cost to me? $0.

This year, I attended three STC live webinars. Normally, the total cost would be $90.00. The  cost to me? $0. 

This year, I added an STC chapter to my membership. Normally, the cost would be $25.00. The cost to me? $0.

Why? In one word (or perhaps in one color): Gold.  Because I am an STC Gold member, I was able to save $170.00 on these educational and networking opportunities. STC Gold membership is available to technical communicators of any professional level. A Gold membership provides several valuable benefits. Here are just two of them:

Free membership in all STC SIGs

STC provides two types of SIGs, each of which focuses on a specific subject area. 

Communities of Interest 

COIs provide channels for discussion and networking via Slack and other social media outlets (for example, Google Groups). Each COI is run by one or more facilitators, who monitor discussions, encourage member participation and information exchange, and help members find additional resources about the subject area. 

 STC currently offers these COIs: 

  • Academic 
  • Accessibility 
  • Agile 
  • Application Programming Interfaces (API)
  • Contracting and Independent Consulting
  • Health & Medicine
  • Solo Technical Communicator 
  • UX and User Experience 
  • Women in Technical Communication

Communities of Practice 

COPs provide a wider range of networking, educational, and skill-building activities, including webinar presentations and workshops. Each COP has a leadership structure that offers a variety of volunteer opportunities and recognition, along with a budget that funds special presentations, contests, conferencing tools, and (depending on funding available) stipends for leader attendance at the STC Summit conference. COPs manage their own websites that keep members up to date on the group’s activities and provide opportunities for both student and professional members to contribute articles. 

STC currently offers these COPs: 

  • Instructional Design and Learning
  • Policies and Procedures 
  • Technical Editing

For more information about these SIGs, go to

Free registration for all STC live webinars 

STC offers several live webinars each year, presented by seasoned technical communicators. Each one-hour webinar is recorded, and attendees are given access to the recordings and (if provided by the presenters) handouts. 

For descriptions of the live webinars coming up in early 2022, go to


Additional benefits 

Gold membership also offers these benefits: 

  • Free membership in one STC chapter of your choice 
  • A printed version of the STC Intercom magazine (8 issues)
  • A 20% discount on STC online courses 
  • Free access to the Salary Database 
  • Extended early-bird registration deadline for the STC Summit conference 

I’ve been a Gold member for six years, and its benefits have enriched my membership experience. Over the years, Gold membership has given me added incentive to participate in more STC communities and activities, and has strengthened my membership. If you’d like to experience the same added value, consider going Gold! For more information about how to join or renew as a Gold member and take advantage of all of its benefits, go to

Lori Meyer is the immediate past membership manager of the IDL SIG. She also volunteers for several other STC communities, including the Rochester and Florida chapters, and serves as an ad-hoc director for the STC Community Affairs Committee. Lori works full-time at a cybersecurity firm in Northern California.