IDL SIG Members to Present at STC Summit, May 15-18, 2022

Once again, we hope this list will help you plan your time at the Summit.

The following members of the IDL SIG are presenting at the STC Summit, as shown immediately below. Mark your schedules, and attend to support them!  Also included in this post are topics/presenters that could be of interest to you as a member of the Instructional Design & Learning SIG.

Click here for a printable list of presenters.

Tip: For those who are not able to attend the Summit this year, make note of any topics that you find of interest. Then let the Program Manager know that you’d be sure to sign up if we were able to convince these talented and informative presenters to reprise their presentations for the SIG at a later date.



Start time (EST)


Jennifer Goode, co-presenting with Ben Woelk (both IDL SIG members) 15 13:00 PRECONFERENCE WORKSHOP: Leveraging Who You Are and What You Know: Launching Your Side Hustle (additional cost for Pre-Conference workshops)
Alisa Bonsignore 16 09:45 Integrating Sustainability into Enterprise Content Strategy
Alisa Bonsignore, co-presenting with Miriam Williams 16 13:30 Meet the Editors
Meghalee Das, co-presenting with Jiaxin Zhang (both IDL SIG members) 16 13:30 International UX Insights: Usability Testing of International Office Websites at US Universities

IDL-related presentations



Time (EST)


Mellissa Ruryk and Cindy Pao, with Deanne Levander 17 8:30 All about the Technical Communication Body of Knowledge
Jennifer Goode, co-presenting with Bremen Vance & Erica Stone 5 8:30 What Tech Comm Job Ads Say about Skills, Job Searching, and Hiring
Craig Baehr 17 13:30 CCPTC Certification Program Overview and Top 10 Study Tips
Ben Woelk 17 14:45 We’re All Winners:
Technical Communication, Gamification, and Security Awareness
Tim Esposito, co-presenting with Alyssa Fox, Chris Hester, and Liz Herman 17 16:30 Resume Review Session
(pre-registration required)
Jennifer Goode 17 16:30 Keeping Score: Advance Your Career by Tracking Personal KPIs
Toni Mantych, panel member with Sue Warnke, Miriam Williams, and Akash Dubey as moderator 17 16:30 KnowledgeXchange Panel:
Using Content to Design More Inclusive Solutions and Workplaces
Toni Mantych 18 8:30 Zoom-proof Your Presentations:
Delivering Engaging Talks in a Virtual Space
Presentations of Note: Hand-picked related to the field of ID
HTXTOmedia 8 14:45 INNOVATION HUB: How to Turn Tech Docs into Instruction Videos
Elizabeth Raichle Wolfe 16 14:45 Once Upon a Time in Metrics:
Using Storytelling to Create New Knowledge with Data
Hilary Marsh 16 16:30 Content Effectiveness:
Measuring What Matters
Marci J.
Gallaghe, Philip
B. Gallagher
16 16:30 New Era, Same Problem:
Making Visual Content Accessible for Visually Impaired Users

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!

STC IDL SIG Student Outreach Article-Writing Competition

The STC’s Instructional Design & Learning Special Interest Group (SIG) is pleased and proud to announce that the judges in the Student Outreach article-writing competition selected 2 articles for publication in this quarter’s issue of IDeaL: Design for Learning, the SIG’s award-winning newsletter. Both articles are very readable and informative.

Here are the two winners, with links to their articles:

Kylie is a Virginia Tech junior studying professional and technical writing and biology. Currently, she works as a research assistant for a study focused on the role of service-learning in creating user documentation. After graduation, Kylie plans to pursue a master’s degree in public health and write within the medical industry. Her article,  The Importance of Needs Assessments in Global Technical Communication, relates the story of a project targeting young women in Nepal. She outlines how she assessed the needs of her target audience for a user documentation prototype.

Catherine is completing her Master’s in Organizational Performance and Workplace Learning at Boise State University, where she earned her Workplace Instructional Design e-Learning Certification. She holds an ATD Certified Professional in Learning and Performance. Catherine graduated from Northeastern University with a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering. She worked in various adult workplace learning roles for over 25 years, including IT, Project Management and Human Resources.

Her article, ID Lessons from TV’s Greatest Teachers, is about the original distance educators—from Reading Rainbow, the Joy of Painting, and Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood. She draws excellent strategies from her examples and presents tips for incorporating their successful techniques into your lesson planning.

Catherine will be presenting an IDL webinar on 4 TV personalities on Thursday, May 27. Follow STCIDLSIG on Facebook to learn more about our educational opportunities, which are always free for students. This event will be posted on Eventbrite once details are complete.

About the Student Outreach Article-Writing Competition

The IDL SIG invites undergraduate- and graduate-level students to submit an article related to instructional design for publication in our quarterly newsletter, IDeaL: Design for Learning. To learn more, click here.

FEATURED ARTICLE: The Original Remote Instructors: ID Lessons from TV’s Greatest Teachers

By Catherine Wecksell

With an increasing demand for online learning, instructional designers are adapting existing online instruction programs to create remote learning. TV legends like Fred Rogers, LeVar Burton, and Bob Ross provided effective distance learning before it became widespread. What techniques do these three TV hosts offer instructional designers for effective workplace learning today?

Fred Rogers was more present virtually than most people manage to be in person. 

Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood ran from 1968 to 2001, one of the longest-running children’s PBS series. Mr. Rogers spoke directly to children, validating their feelings and helping them name, face, and understand their emotions. Many have applied his methods to adult contexts such as leadership, HR, and pedagogy. 

Mr. Rogers engaged children with open-ended questions, asking them about their experiences and urging them to draw upon prior knowledge. He presented models and examples in “The Land of Make Believe,” encouraging children to connect these to their own experiences. Jack Mezirow established transformative learning theory in 1978, with the concept that the learner’s critical self-reflection can transform the learner’s perspective (Mezirow, 2009). Mezirow grounded his concept in the foundational theory of constructivismbased on the idea that people actively create their knowledge and understanding. Your reality is determined by your experiences as a learner.  Learner-centered instruction further acknowledges learners’ differences, shifting the planning and control of learning from the instructor to the learner.

Mr. Rogers exemplified this principle, to the extent one can on TV. While the children couldn’t direct the content on the episodes (the true learner-centered approach), his show included enough other content (such as visiting factories and interviewing guests) that the emotional instruction was an “offering” rather than a lesson to be imparted. Mr. Rogers’ gentle guidance and questioning put the learner at the center of the experience. He sang these words at the end of each episode: “I’ll be back, when the day is new, and I’ll have more ideas for you… You’ll have things you want to talk about… and I will, too.”

LeVar Burton helped a generation become self-directed learners.  

Actor LeVar Burton (Roots, Star Trek the Next Generation) hosted Reading Rainbow on PBS from 1983 to 2009. This beloved show encouraged a love of reading by exploring various topics related to a featured children’s book. Segments approached books from many directions, from character interviews and celebrity appearances to visiting the book’s setting. Reading Rainbow earned over 200 broadcast awards, including a Peabody and 26 Emmy Awards. There are now interactive Reading Rainbow apps and video field trips for the iPad® and Kindle®.

LeVar taught around a subject, adding context by introducing related topics. Interdisciplinary learning combines learning objectives and methods from more than one branch of knowledge to focus on a central theme, issue, or problem. Interdisciplinary learning transfers knowledge gained in one discipline to another and deepens learning. 

Even with LeVar’s acting skills, he didn’t read or dramatize the book. Learners were encouraged to read the books themselves. Sometimes people misunderstand self-directed learning (SDL)—it is not about working alone. SDL means a learner sets and often measures their own learning goals and progress.  Another critical part of SDL includes sharing the learning process with peers and collaborating. LeVar would say, “But you don’t have to take my word for it…” Children would then come on screen and make book recommendations to each other.

Bob Ross taught skills one happy cloud at a time.

Bob Ross hosted The Joy of Painting, another PBS television show that aired from 1983 to 1994. Bob Ross demonstrated with each brushstroke how to paint landscapes in oil. Many enjoyed watching him demonstrate specific landscape painting techniques by showing how to create integral elements, such as the sky, trees, and “happy clouds.”

Observational learning is a subset of social learning theory and describes learning from watching and mimicking others’ behaviors. Techniques of observational learning include modeling, shaping, and chaining. Observational learning is most common with children as they tend to copy adults naturally. However, on-the-job skills are also learned via observational learning.

People often develop new skills by shadowing. An example of this is having a new hire observe a more experienced employee on the job. Video tutorials and recorded screen captures are also observational learning. 

Bob Ross’s consistency and demonstration of skills set his instruction apart. His impeccable planning of the show achieved this consistency. Bob planned each word and made three copies of his paintings for each show. Careful planning, prepping, and storyboarding are also vital to quality workplace learning and facilitation excellence.

Employ Learner-Centered techniques as Mr. Rogers did:

  • Build open-ended questions into the learning experience.
  • Have the learner draw upon their own experience and construct their own meaning.
  • Allow the learner to direct and take ownership of what is learned.

Encourage Self-Directed and Social Learning the same way as LeVar Burton:

  • Encourage independent exploration of content by providing ample resources and materials.
  • Build peer collaboration with discussion boards and communities of practices.
  • Use an interdisciplinary approach to teach many job functions around a single example.

Create consistent Observational Learning in the same way Bob Ross did:

  • Include demonstrations or simulations. 
  • Provide guides to support workplace shadowing.
  • Prototype your learning assets.

Mr. Rogers’ listening and empathy were profound, allowing children to feel acknowledged without even being in the same room. LeVar Burton stimulated self-directed and social learning. Bob Ross led learners through excellence in observational learning. They engaged learners without being able to see or get feedback from them. You can use the same learner-centered, self-directed, social, and observational approaches employed by these famous TV educators to engage remote workplace learners today.


Mezirow, Jack (2009). An overview on transformative learning. In Knud Illeris (ed.), Contemporary Theories of Learning: Learning Theorists — In Their Own Words. Routledge.


Photos of Fred Rogers and LeVar Burton were obtained from Wikimedia commons, who provide the sourcing and copyright information for them at the following links:

®Bob Ross name and images are registered trademarks of Bob Ross Inc. © Bob Ross Inc. Used with permission.

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. 


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.,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. 

“Youth Arrested on Cyber Crime Charges.” The Himalayan Times, July 9, 2015.