Note From the Editor, Q1 2021

By Paul Scott, IDL SIG Newsletter Editor

CONTENTS

This quarter's issue is uncommonly large and high-quality, and almost all of it focuses on our student members. In fact, most of our issue is actually written by student members. Let this encourage more of you to write for us!

We lead with not one, but two featured articles, both by student members. Catherine Wecksell provides an excellent analysis of the instructional design of some of television's pioneering teachers: Fred Rogers, LeVar Burton, and Bob Ross. Then Kylie Call discusses the ins and outs of needs assessment in the context of a class assignment: designing an application with user documentation for an audience in Nepal. We follow this with Student Member Anne Matechuk, discussing how she works to benefit from her Student Membership.

Then we have articles from our officers. Jamye Sagan, our Treasurer, gives our quarterly financial report, as well as the results of her demographic survey of our membership. Membership Manager Lori Meyer assures us that there is still time to renew your membership for 2021, and our Webmaster Maralee Sautter then tells us about Lori's well-deserved Distinguished SIG Service Award (Lori was too modest to mention it herself).

This has been my favorite issue to edit so far. I hope all of you will continue to write this great content for us. See you in June!

IDL SIG Treasurer Report – 2021 Q1

By Jamye Sagan, IDL SIG Treasurer

How much money do we have?

As of March 15, 2021, we have $2,242.71 in our account - $1,742.00 from community funding and $500.71 in our vested funds. 

So far this year, the only expenses we have incurred are speaker honoraria for the webinars we’ve had so far. In the next few months, we anticipate the following expense: speaker honoraria for upcoming webinars. Since the Summit will be virtual this year, we will not have as many expenses incurred for that event. Normally, we would purchase giveaways and door prizes for our community receptions and in-person meetings.

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: The Importance of Needs Assessments in Global Technical Communication

By Kylie Call

According to John K. Burton and Paul F. Merrill, "the first step in solving a problem is to decide that you have one." In a college technical communication course, I applied this idea to engage with an international community in Nepal. My professor divided the class into groups. We were required to design a web or mobile application prototype with user documentation. The products needed to demonstrate cultural awareness by addressing an issue that people in Nepal face. First, my group conducted a needs assessment.

Needs assessments are the foundation for products intended for global distribution. They outline project goals and explain how cultural differences may impact reaching those goals. I can break down my experience into three steps: data collection, data analysis, and data application. 

Data Collection: Knowing Your Audience

Collecting sufficient information is essential to the needs assessment's success. I gathered data from local newspaper articles, journal articles, and various websites because distance prevented me from direct observation. I sought out information about digital literacy and gender inequality. Doing this initial research helped me think of questions to ask the subject matter experts (SMEs) who represented Code for Nepal, an international volunteer-based organization. The SMEs filled in my data gaps and helped me understand the context and issues brought by the COVID-19 pandemic better. I learned about factors that play a role in Nepal's low digital literacy rate, such as geographical differences and limited internet connectivity. Digging deeper, I discovered how digital literacy empowers people economically and socially. The SMEs’ involvement was valuable because I struggled to find information about Nepalis communities during COVID-19 on my own. They eased my initial hesitations about whether I was capable of communicating to a global audience. The relationships that I formed with them are among the most significant takeaways from my service-learning experience.

Data Analysis: Putting the Pieces Together

Data analysis helped define a specific audience and objectives. From my data, I concluded that the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated Nepal's existing problems with digital literacy and gender-based inequalities. Students and teachers are struggling to adapt to life online. Technological advancement has many positive outcomes for communities, such as providing economic mobility. But the greater use of technology coupled with the lack of knowledge about cyber-safety makes people vulnerable to predators. Cyber-crime has been referred to by The Kathmandu Post as one of the "biggest challenges to law and order." Data also revealed that women and young girls in Nepal experience cyber-crime in the form of cyber-sexual harassment at high rates. While social media has become a popular pastime for young people during quarantine, it has also become a platform for cyber-sexual harassment to occur. My findings helped me brainstorm a mobile application geared towards young Nepalese women to understand cyber-sexual harassment and provide them with social media safety tips. 

Data Application: Creating a Mobile-based Prototype

My data helped the group make decisions regarding the design of our project. We formatted our mobile application as a quiz game to capture the attention of our young audience. The user answered questions about realistic scenarios that they might experience online. The questions taught users how to identify cyber-sexual harassment and what actions to take to protect themselves. Real-life occurrences inspired the questions. The Himalayan Times stated that in 2015, police arrested Rahul Balmiki for hacking the Facebook accounts of over 40 women and blackmailing victims with obscene images and messages. This incident prompted my group to include questions about sexual harassment on Facebook. Data also influenced the prototype’s and user documentation's development. GlobalStats reports that Android is the primary operating system in Nepal, so the prototype was developed as an Android application. The user documentation provided step-by-step instructions for navigating the application. My group used plain, simple sentences for easy translation to Nepali. We created annotated visuals to aid the text. A section in the app included additional cyber-safety resources for children and adolescents from reputable organizations such as UNICEF.

Overall, needs assessments serve to guide decision-making when developing a project. My needs assessment allowed me to target a critical issue that puts people's health and well-being from a marginalized community at risk. I better understood the problem of cyber-sexual harassment in Nepal and outlined a course of action that benefitted my intended audience the most. Through the process, I gained skills valued by the modern, global workforce. I learned how to collect information for stakeholders (i.e., my Professor from Nepal and the class's community partner) and work with diverse colleagues. Performing a thorough needs assessment was time-consuming. But it improved the quality of the deliverables. I feel that higher-quality products increase the likelihood of the audience reaching the desired outcome.

 

I want to thank Dr. Sweta Baniya, my professor, and the representatives from Code for Nepal, for providing me with this opportunity. I gained a greater intercultural understanding; familiarizing myself with the needs assessment process also enhanced my skill set as a technical communicator. 

Bibliography

Burton, John K., and Paul F. Merrill. “Chapter 2 Needs Assessment: Goals, Needs, and Priorities.” Essay. In Instructional Design: Principles and Applications, 21. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Educational Technology Publications, 1977. 

Dhungana, Shuvam. “Crime Rate in Nepal Rose by 40 Percent in Past Five Fiscal Years, Police Data Reveals.” The Kathmandu Post. The Kathmandu Post, December 8, 2019. https://kathmandupost.com/national/2019/12/08/crime-rate-in-nepal-rose-by-40-percent-in-past-five-fiscal-years-police-data-reveals#:~:text=National-,Crime%20rate%20in%20Nepal%20rose%20by%2040%20percent%20in%20past,in%20the%20last%20fiscal%20year. 

“Operating System Market Share Nepal.” StatCounter Global Stats, February 2021. https://gs.statcounter.com/os-market-share/all/nepal. 

“Youth Arrested on Cyber Crime Charges.” The Himalayan Times, July 9, 2015. https://thehimalayantimes.com/kathmandu/youth-arrested-on-cyber-crime-charges

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.

Lori Meyer Receives Distinguished SIG Service Award

We are proud to announce that Lori Meyer has received the STC Distinguished SIG Service Award (DSSA). The DSSA, Distinguished Chapter Service Awards (DCSA), and Distinguished Community Service for Students Awards (DCSSA) are given annually by STC to members who have offered extensive service and exemplary commitment to their communities. Each community nominates one or more of its members for an award. The nominations are submitted to STC and evaluated, and nominee recommendations are presented to the STC board of directors for approval. Lori is the ultimate volunteer.  In her breakout role for the IDL SIG, she volunteered as secretary. Et voilà! A few short years later, she stepped up as SIG co-manager. Whatever the role, she has endeared herself to us all through her charming ways, thoughtful leadership, and love of cats! Lori is an innovator. She developed a Planning Guide that provides SIG Communities' leadership with a strategy to meet yearly Community Achievement Award (CAA) requirements. Additionally, she created an internal award program for volunteers who may not meet all criteria for a DSSA (or who may already hold a DSSA), but deserve recognition for their volunteering spirit within the community. Lori continues to support the SIG through her position as membership manager. And while Lori volunteers for many positions in chapters and SIGs throughout the STC community, we are glad she chose us. Lori’s citation reads: For your dedication to the Instructional Design and Learning SIG, your unfailing commitment to leadership, and for displaying compassion and wisdom, in calm and troubled circumstances. Congratulations, Lori!