Getting the Most from my IDL SIG Student Membership

By Anita Matechuk

I made the scary decision to volunteer for the IDL SIG last fall. Because I was only half-way through my schooling in technical communication, I didn’t feel qualified to volunteer. I was unsure what most of the roles did and did not have the skills to help with the rest. The email offering to volunteer was sent with one goal: learn one new skill before they realized I was not a qualified volunteer.

My first IDL SIG meeting was not as terrifying as expected. I did not understand the majority of the topics, but the friendly nature of the meeting was encouraging. The impact of meeting professional technical communicators was surprising. Working in this field requires constant learning and even though I had the most to learn, it was less daunting to know I was learning with others.

I joined my second management meeting expecting to be told my invitation was a mistake. Once I got over my shyness, they not only tolerated my student input; they valued it. After the meeting was over, I read the entire website and signed up on social media.

A notice for a free webinar showed up on Facebook, so I signed up even though I knew nothing about the topic. Since then, I have attended every free webinar that fit into my schedule. I learned a lot during some webinars while others were above my comprehension level. Each webinar expanded my technical communication vocabulary.

I looked forward to my third management meeting, but felt a little guilty because I hadn’t contributed any value. That was solved when I happily agreed to join the student outreach planning meeting when it was offered.

The student outreach planning meeting uncovered another benefit of volunteering: The more I volunteered, the more people offered mentoring. Mentors don’t force you to take on a task you aren’t comfortable doing. They encourage you to try new tasks while supporting you in your learning.

I still find some aspects of volunteering scary. Okay, I admit writing my first article is terrifying and I have no idea how to create a webinar. These are both opportunities I volunteered for, and I am excited to learn.

I plan to try everything I can as a student. This includes continuing to volunteer and signing up for webinars. I registered to become an STC mentee. My one last goal for myself is to enter the IDL SIG student article writing competition. I am not planning on writing articles for a career, but this is a great learning opportunity.

Student Volunteers: Do you have FONBQ?

By Melissa Ruryk

Forget FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out)… if you’re a student, or a new member of the IDL SIG, you might have Fear Of Not Being Qualified. Not being qualified to volunteer, that is.

Hey, don’t worry about it! The SIG leadership wants to see more students and members stepping up and learning about the SIG and making our SIG the best community in STC. We understand you might not want to throw yourself into a body of water that might be way over your head. So here’s the perfect way to dip your toe in the volunteer pool…  before diving in:  

Short term tasks available now

  • What do you want to learn about?  How about thinking of 3 new webinar topics and sourcing presenters for us?
  • Which podcast or article did you find fascinating last month?  Will you track down the podcaster/author and ask if we can reprint the item?
  • Setting up an Instagram account for the SIG that’s aligned with our Facebook page.
  • Gather attendance records from SIG events (mostly webinars) during the year, for reporting on the Community Achievement Award (CAA) application.
  • Are you growing fonder of the spoken word rather than all this reading?  Can you make short informational videos on the IDL website about how to join, what the IDL does, job roles? Or any other ideas?
  • Capture social media activities (even easier, initiate them) to report on the CAA application.
  • Monitor our Slack channel (#instructional-design) and bring interesting discussions to the manager for review and action if needed.
  • Help the Membership manager with emailing welcome letters to new members.
  • Are you a student?  Buddy up with another new student member.
  • Edit an article that’s been submitted to our award-winning IDeaL newsletter for publication.
  • Submit your own article to IDeaL.
  • Help on the team that is planning a virtual members’ event at the upcoming Summit in June 2021.
  • Been a member for a while? Tell us what you get out of belonging in a short video or newsletter article.

New information will be added to the SIG website soon, detailing additional short-term, one-off tasks for which you can volunteer. These tasks won’t take more than 2 hours (including any training you’d need), and you can sign up for one task or more, as you like. We are especially looking for people who are comfortable with any of the various social media accounts the SIG uses. Your volunteer “task” might be to tweet about an upcoming webinar, or announce our newsletter has just been published.

See? Not hard, not onerous.

Seventh Annual Virtual Open House

In November, the IDL SIG will host our seventh annual Virtual Open House.

As a virtual community with members spread out around the world, it can be challenging for us to cultivate a sense of community. The Virtual Open House enables current (and future) IDL SIG members to learn more about our community and the services we offer by attending the live event, or by viewing archived events via the student database. In addition, attendees get to meet members of the SIG leadership team and chat with fellow members.

Even if you cannot attend live, you can still join the party once we release the recording.

IDL SIG 2018 Membership Survey: Responses

By: Jamye Sagen

In December 2018, the IDL SIG conducted our biennial membership demographic survey. Approximately 10.75% of our membership base completed the IDL SIG 2018 membership demographic survey - 60 out of 558 members. See Membership Survey for complete results.

About the members

Years of experience in instructional design

More than half of our survey respondents have been in the instructional design field for 10 or fewer years. In fact, 20% have zero years’ experience, but are currently learning about the field.

Level of education

Over 78% of our survey respondents have bachelor’s or master’s degrees, while over 16% have earned doctorates.

Employment status

According to the survey, over half of our members are permanent, full-time employees.

Job responsibilities

More than half of our survey respondents indicated instructional design as their job responsibility, while over 90% indicated technical writing. Our surveyed members assume a variety of job responsibilities, from project management to course development.

Other jobs listed were:

  • Librarian
  • Editing, desktop publishing, file management
  • Online Development and I work closely with Instructional Designers and Trainers
  • Clerk
  • Editing, user support
  • Scrum Master, Finance Coordinator
  • Management
  • Still in school
  • Capacity Development
  • Quality assurance

Company/client sectors served

As shown, our members work in a wide variety of industries.

Other sectors listed were:

  • Machinery
  • Aerospace science and engineering
  • Parking management software and hardware
  • My employer is a manufacturing company, but I'm in the IT department and we write about IT systems.
  • Oil and gas exploration and production
  • Pharmaceuticals

ID deliverables produced

Our members produce the following types of deliverables.

Other deliverables listed were:

  • Manuals used for training
  • One-on-one coaching; training of other coaches; template design
  • Documentation

Tools used

Almost 95% of those surveyed know and use PowerPoint in their work. Other popular tools include Camtasia, Captivate, Prezi, Articulate Storyline, Microsoft Word, and Madcap Flare.

Other tools listed were:

  • Author-it
  • OneNote, SharePoint
  • Confluence
  • Madcap Flare
  • Flare
  • Madcap Flare, Bluestream CCMS and KB
    Word
  • Adobe RoboHelp
  • Madcap Flare
  • Adobe InDesign and FrameMaker
  • Madcap Flare
  • Adobe Creative Suite
  • Moodle, MS Word, Photoshop
  • oXygen
  • InDesign
  • SnagIt, Word, FSPro
  • SharePoint, Office 362

Influence of specific theories in instructional design

We asked respondents to rank how certain theories influence their work in developing ID curriculum and deliverables. Three out of 60 respondents did not answer. Results are shown for those who did.

STC membership level

Almost half of our surveyed members are regular or Gold members. In fact, 20% of those surveyed are Gold members, who enjoy membership in all SIGs as part of their benefits.

STC membership designation

Over 65% of our surveyed members are Members or Senior Members of STC, while 20% are Associate Fellows or Fellows. The other members surveyed were unsure of their membership designation.

About the IDL SIG and other organizations

Reasons for joining the IDL SIG

Although our surveyed members have a variety of reasons for joining the IDL SIG, the most popular reasons include learning about ID methodology and best practices, and about the profession in general. Given that many of our members are at the beginning of their ID careers, these results make perfect sense.

Participation in other instructional design/training organizations

Since over 80% of our survey respondents belong only to STC and the IDL SIG, we have a prime opportunity to make sure we offer as many resources as possible.
Of those members who belong to other groups, the most popular responses include ATD (Association for Talent Development) and eLearning Guild.

Other organizations listed included:

  • Music Library Association
  • Music OCLC Users Group
  • Online Audiovisual Catalogers
  • International Association of Music Libraries and Documentation Centres
  • American Library Association
  • Association for Library Collections and Technical Services
  • Association of College and Research Libraries
  • Houston UXPA, Community College
  • Was in ATD for years, dropped membership a few years ago
  • New England Lectora User's Group
  • Academy of HRD
  • SHRM L&D SIG
  • Project Management Institute

Value: IDL SIG vs. other professional organizations

Of those who belong to another professional training organization such as ASTD, 36.3% of those respondents thought our SIG provides equal value. The same percentage thought we provided less value. Again, we have an opportunity to make sure we provide value to our members.

How other organizations provide value

Responses to this question helps us learn what other organizations do, and what we can do to provide value to our members. Many respondents commented on how other organizations provide networking opportunities – a prime area of opportunity for our group.

As a virtual community, the only time our SIG currently offers official in-person networking events is during the annual STC Summit. With that said, we highly encourage local IDL SIG members to meet up informally – whether passing through during travels or meeting up during an STC chapter meeting.

Value in IDL SIG services and communication channels

Most of our members consider our services to be valuable, especially our webinars, emails, and newsletter.
Although we offer a wealth of valuable services, many of our members are not aware of them, especially our mentoring services, student outreach article competition, and training material evaluation program. Therefore, we can do a better job of using our communication and social media outlets to spread the word.

Desired services

This question gives us ideas on future services we can provide to our SIG members. Suggestions include:

  • Orientation video about our services
  • Instructional template library
  • In-person local events

In addition to these suggestions, a few respondents indicated they were unaware of some of the services we provide.

Ranking of communication channels

By far, email is our most valuable form of communication, with 83.3% of respondents ranking it most effective. Website posts and Linked-In articles are somewhat valuable as well. Facebook and Twitter were ranked the least effective.
Since our members depend heavily on email for our communications, we need to make sure our email systems work.

Suggested future IDL SIG webinar topics

We received several thought-provoking suggestions for webinar topics, such as:

  • Practical application of theories
  • Tool and training demos
  • Staying relevant in the marketplace

We will share these suggestions with our programs team. If you know anyone who would be interested in conducting a webinar, please email programs@nullstcidlsig.org. Likewise, if you or anyone you know would love to write an article about any of these topics for our newsletter, please email newsletter@nullstcidlsig.org.

Free IDL SIG webinars and viewing behavior

Since we made all IDL SIG webinars free for all IDL SIG members, 44% of our members register for and view more webinars as a result. Fifty-six percent indicated no change in behavior. Since no members indicated attending fewer webinars, we can conclude that providing free webinars for our members is a sound investment.

2018 STC Summit

Attend Summit?

Of those surveyed, only 19 (or 35.19%) attended the 2018 STC Summit in Orlando, FL.

SIG Summit functions

Of those surveyed, over half attended the Communities Reception, where Summit attendees got to meet with members of participating SIGs. Thirty-six percent of those surveyed attended our annual business meeting; this past year, we decided to host a luncheon to attract more members. Interestingly enough, 31% of surveyed Summit attendees did not know about these Summit events. We should do a more thorough job of spreading the word about these events, to take advantage of the face-to-face time.

How members learned about SIG Summit functions

According to the survey, the three most effective communication channels for SIG Summit functions are:

  • Summit program (printed or electronic)
  • Email (sent by the IDL SIG)
  • Summit app

Although other channels of communication may not have been as effective, people still learned about the events from them.

According to the survey, no one learned of SIG events via the IDL SIG bookmark. Since we generally don’t give out the bookmarks until the Communities Reception, we may want to re-evaluate what information we place on the bookmark.

Enough instructional design/training presentations at Summit?

Of those surveyed, almost half of respondents were not quite sure if there were enough ID and training presentations offered at Summit. Thirty-seven percent did feel we had enough instructional design or training topics.

Again, we appreciate those who took the time to provide feedback for our membership survey. As always, if you have any questions or suggestions, please email manager@nullstcidlsig.org.

 

Jamye SaganJamye Sagan currently serves as  treasurer for the IDL SIG, and is a senior member of STC. She served as a co-manager of the SIG from 2010-12. At work, she uses her tech comm skills to make sense out of the seemingly senseless. At play, she uses sticks and hooks to transform yarn into pretty objects.

New member – George Abraham

By: Kelly Smith

George Abraham
George Abraham

Whenever possible, we like to welcome new SIG members by asking them to share a bit about themselves. In this issue, we welcome George K. Abraham IV.

George is a materials scientist, technical communicator, and manager of technical services at Allied High Tech Products Inc. where he has become an industry authority on metallography. He is responsible for providing technical support, seminars, workshops, training, and demonstrations on Allied’s metallographic equipment and consumables, Zeiss’s optical microscopes, cameras, and imaging software, and Mitutoyo’s hardness and microhardness testers. He has a Bachelor of Science in materials science and engineering from Case Western Reserve University, and he previously held positions at H.C. Starck and Rhenium Alloys Inc.

George manages Allied’s applications laboratory, overseeing the development of metallographic procedures and assisting with research and development of new metallographic equipment, accessories, and consumables. He has authored numerous application notes, reports, technical bulletins, operation manuals, technical articles, papers, presentations, and webinars.

George serves on the editorial board of the journal Metallography, Microstructure, and Analysis, as secretary of the International Metallographic Society Board of Directors, and as a member of various professional committees focused on standards, education, and mentoring.

Also appreciative of the art of metallography, George has been known to get lost in microscopes exploring the beauty of materials; his favorite microstructure is nodular cast iron. George has developed and taught materials sample preparation seminars for ten years and enjoys mentoring emerging professionals in science and engineering.

Welcome, George!


If you are a new member and would like to submit a bio, please email it to newsletter@nullstcidlsig.org!