Manager’s Column

By Maralee Sautter, Associate Fellow and IDL SIG Manager

Hello IDL SIG members,

As usual, the second quarter (April through June) was intense because of the Summit, STC’s annual conference. Before reporting on the Summit, let’s review a few other events in Q2.


First Fridays @ 5

Polishing Portfolios on April 5, 2024, IDL chat with Melanie Murphy. This session was about Melanie’s personal experience in building portfolios. She shared portfolios that highlighted her skills in marketing and technical communication. A lively chat occurred after the presentation. The recording is on YouTube:

How to Train Your Dragon: Practical Lessons in Training & Learning on June 7, 2024 with Maralee Sautter. Viqui Dill started the conversation and gave attendees a recap of the Summit. 

The presentation focused on the perspective of learners and trainers using the characters in the animated movie, How to Train Your Dragon. Maralee used the VARK (Visual, Aural, Kinesthetic, and Read/Write) learning styles model to identify some of the characters’ learning styles in the movie. The goal of VARK is to cover all learning types in the classroom. The recording is on YouTube:


Sign showing honor recipients at STC SummitWe were so happy to be recognized for our SIG achievements for the 2023 year at the Summit on May 18 and the STC Annual Virtual Leadership Program on June 6. 

We celebrated the IDL SIG awards for the following: 

      • Platinum Community Achievement Award (CAA)
      • Pacesetter Award
      • Ruth-Anne Klassen: Distinguished SIG Service Award (DSSA) recipient.


STC’s annual Technical Communication Summit is a conference for technical communicators to learn, network, and socialize. The Summit brings together like-minded individuals to grow and share their knowledge of the technical communication field.

The 2024 Summit theme was Tech Comm in Action. We were in Bloomington, Minnesota, May 16 through 19. It was a blast because the Mall of America was about a block beyond the stylish and cozy Radisson Blu Hotel venue.

The next sections follow the IDL SIG’s presence and activities at the conference.


Thursday, May 16

The IDL SIG core team (Viqui Dill, Melanie Murphy, Maralee Sautter) arrived on Thursday. We had time to meet in person, say ‘hi’, and coordinate dinner plans for the IDL SIG social event. We were early enough to pick up badges and Summit materials at the registration desk.

In the evening, IDL SIG members enjoyed great conversation and networking at the Rainforest Cafe; though every 15 minutes, talking ceased when an electronic rainstorm came through with loud claps of thunder and lightning mixed with the cacophony of trumpeting elephants. We happily survived, as you can tell from the group photo that was taken afterward.

 Friday, May 17

Though there were many educational sessions, most of my time was dedicated to leadership activities. The IDL SIG’s main social event for the day occurred at lunchtime. The IDL SIG gang grabbed their lunches in the sky bridge and met in a designated conference room, plates in-hand. Everyone ate, laughed, and placed stickers on the bottoms of the IDL SIG ducks. It was a great team-building experience and readied Viqui et al., for the Are You a Uni-Duck? panel on Saturday.

Saturday, May 18

Saturday was a very active day for us at the Summit. We started with the Instructional Design panel session in the afternoon.

Are You a Uni-Duck? The Intersection of Tech Comm and Instructional Design, panelThe panel consisted of Viqui Dill, Melanie Murphy, and Maralee Sautter.

Viqui started the session by asking attendees to move into one of 4 quadrants—tech writer, training facilitator, instructional designer (ID), and generalist—that most represented them. Everyone was instructed to take a duck in their quadrant and start moving toward the ID quadrant if the job description was similar to what they did as tech writers, facilitators, and generalists. The instructions took everyone in the room closer to the ID quadrant.

Maralee continued to show how the tasks and duties of the technical communicator cross over into those of an instructional designer. She asked the audience to come up with a list of core competencies for tech comm and instructional design. Then, reinforced the crossover concept with a Venn diagram that visualized the intersection of both groups. 

Melanie continued with ways to transition between Tech Comm and Instructional Design by targeting resumes and portfolios in the job search. She gave us 3 possible job skill sets that would cross over from her tech comm and marketing background. Then she demonstrated how she would meet the instructional design requirements in an interview, by drawing experiences from her background.

Viqui ended the session with a rousing song about ADDIE, sung to the tune of Row, Row, Row Your Boat.

Everyone left the session with a rubber duck and the ADDIE song stuck in their heads. 

STC Awards Reception
The Awards reception was in the evening. It was full of fun, applause, and laughter. Afterward, photographer Rachel Houghton took a great photo of IDL SIG members in attendance. The IDL SIG’s Platinum CAA certificate is at the center.

Sunday, May 18

After some short sessions on Sunday, most packed up, said their good-byes, and returned home to their own corner of the world. The photo is of Mt. Hood, taken from the plane, while returning to Portland, Oregon. It was a great Summit that provided many educational activities, networking opportunities, and social connections. Some returned home exhausted from the conference, but energized about STC and its amazing community of professionals and friends.