DEADLINE EXTENDED – Bi-Annual IDL Demographic Survey

To give you all more time to complete our bi-annual demographic survey, we have extended the deadline to Friday, December 11 at 11:59 pm Central time!

We had sent a link to all of our current members via our discussion list, but if you had not received it, see below:

This survey should take about 10-15 minutes to complete. As a token of our appreciation, IDL members who complete our survey can opt to enter a drawing for one of four $25 Amazon gift cards!

Note From the Editor – Q3 2020

Welcome to the Q3 2020 edition of IDeaL: Design for Learning!

Aaaannd, we're back. I'm sorry we missed our usual publication date. COVID insanity, a move and various other problems stacked up on me and swept my deadline away. But things are stabilizing (I hope for all of you as well) and we're on track moving forward.

Welcome to our new Co-Manager, Destiny Dudley!

IDL SIG is making big plans for October, with our Virtual Open House, coming up October 8. We are launching a student outreach program, and this newsletter features an article written by a student!

Marcia Shannon provides her quarterly Co-Manager's Report, and Jamye Sagan has a number of items to share in her Treasurer's Report.

As always, members are encouraged to submit topical articles. We love to see what you write!

Take care of yourselves and each other in these interesting times.



Manager’s Report from Marcia Shannon — Q2 and Q3 2020

Q2 2020

What a complicated three months this second quarter has been. The effects of the pandemic and the measures taken to slow the spread of COVID-19 have been rough on many of us. I hope you are safe and well along with your family and friends. It’s a relief to focus on tech comm for a short while to share what has been happening in the IDL SIG.

A major highlight of this time was our own Jamye Sagan’s elevation to STC Associate Fellow. Congratulations, Jamye, you are always one of IDL’s bedrock supporters.

Despite the loss of our annual get together, STC’s first-ever virtual Summit was a very successful event. As a first time presenter, I learned how to prepare a webinar for broadcast, which was a useful experience. More importantly, the Summit sessions went well, with few delivery glitches. Attendees were enthusiastic participants in the chat windows, an unanticipated bonus of the venue. Seeing and interacting with that feedback enlivened the recorded sessions so much more than just listening to a playback does. As always, Summit had depth, variety, and lots of useful information. I definitely missed the face-to-face excitement of putting names to faces from past webinars, but most folks were not shy about being on camera during breaks. You can have a satisfying networking experience virtually.

I attended the opening and closing remarks, several networking events and fifteen sessions. The bonus of the entire Summit recordings being available through August 31 means that I can watch almost all of the 90+ sessions. If you did not attend Summit, I do recommend registering at the after-Summit discounted price. Everything you want to know about the content is available on the STC website here:

Are you curious about CPTC requirements at the foundation or practitioner level? There’s a session about that. There are sessions about DITA, Agile, Adobe, content delivery and maintenance.  Are you looking for career advice? Here are a dozen sessions about working in tech comm.

  • Advance Your Career Through Personal Branding
  • Bias and Your Job Search
  • Business Essentials: The Five Facts Every Professional Should Know about the Technical Communication Business
  • Four Secrets to a Killer Résumé
  • How Getting Away From Your Desk Can Help You Grow Your Career
  • In the Middle: Managing Middle Careers in an Era of Disruption
  • Independent Consulting 101 – Going Out on Your Own
  • The Technical Communicator as a Generalist
  • The Times They Are a'Changin'
  • Volunteering to Advance Your Career (STC)
  • Your Future Career with Tools and Technology: Tools and Technology Panel Discussion

My favorite sessions covered a wide range of topics. They brought a fresh perspective of technical communication. I learned something immediately useful. Here’s a list of my favorite sessions.

  • Navigating Tech Comm with Geoffrey Chaucer by Brigid Brockway
    More than a history lesson, this showed the deep roots, almost proto-tech comm practices that still influence TC today. Brigid brought humor and erudition to this.
  • How My Cats Helped Me Quickly Develop Training Materials by Jamye Sagan
    Jayme’s presentation brings high-level theory into our everyday circumstances.
  • How to Hack Repetitive Publicity Tasks and Get Your Life Back! by Liz Fraley
    This was my jaw-dropping, light bulb moment. I am very shy with all social media, a stumbling block for a freelance tech commer. Liz shows us how to get control of using social media for business.
  • Running with the Bulls: PM the PMs and live to tell about it by Viqui Dill
    Viqui addressed the well-known problem of shoe horning tech comm into project planning, despite project manager’s notorious resistance to it.
  • The Art of Interviewing SME's and Tech Comm Celebrities by Nicky Bleiel
    Nicky shared techniques and approaches for coaxing information out of and fostering cooperation from subject matter experts. I found it very helpful.
  • The Future Workforce Is Here – Now What? by Tana Session
    Like finding out about personality types, Tana showed how being aware of generational hallmarks can help us communicate more effectively in and out of our work places. I did not agree completely with all of the cohort descriptions, but they are useful for targeting an approach to any given group.
  • Now I Get It: Three Strategies for Effectively Sharing Scientific Research by Jennifer Goode
    Boiling down thousands of words of detail into eye-catching informative flyers or wall posters can be difficult. Jennifer shared several clever and useful poster strategies to succeed.

Just before Summit, STC and the CAC (Community Affairs Committee) announced a change to the structure of Special Interest Groups. When membership season begins September 1, every special interest group will become a “community of interest” or “community of practice”.  The SIG leadership teams with CAC’s guidance are transitioning to this new titling now. This is more than a title change. The designation is based on the structure and mission of the group.

Communities of interest will be based in Slack, each with its own channel and a volunteer facilitator to guide the content. They will be discussion groups although no bounds have been set on what or how they do that. All STC members will have membership in all communities of interest as part of their dues.

Communities of practice will be topic-specific. Examples of current SIGs transitioning to COP are Instructional Design and Learning, Technical Editing, and Policies and Procedures. COPs will be able to choose to maintain websites, have an elected volunteer leadership team, present webinars, run competitions. They will also have a channel on the STC-sponsored Slack group. They will be supported by the usual $10 fee per COP collected at renewal or when joining or when a member decides to join a COP outside of those actions.

In order to maintain IDL’s COP status and to keep doing everything we are doing now, we need volunteers. In particular, we need someone or several someones to handle that Slack channel as well as to take over Twitter and Facebook and LinkedIn. Can you help?

Speaking of volunteers, we need help from all IDL members with education ties, both students and educators.  The complications from pandemic-driven distance learning makes it difficult to publicize our Student Outreach competition. Please share the SO brochure with your students and other educators:

We will be busy in third quarter with programs, leadership team elections and planning our annual open house. Keep up with us via social media and the website. It’s about to be busy season again. Stay safe, stay well.

From the Treasurer — IDL SIG Q3 2020

COMING SOON: 2020 IDL SIG Member Demographic Survey

Sometime in late September or early October, we will release our IDL SIG member demographic survey. This survey, which we conduct every two years, enables us to capture the pulse of our membership. Results from this survey help guide us in developing programs and services that would best benefit our members. Plus, as a token of our appreciation for taking the time to complete the survey, we will once again offer the opportunity for you to be entered into a raffle drawing. Your survey results will still remain anonymous, even if you enter the drawing.

Meanwhile, if you’d like to review results from past surveys, please visit Doing so will also give you an idea of the types of questions we ask.

COMING SOON: Virtual Open House

We will host our eighth annual Virtual Open House on Thursday September 24 at 7pm ET.

This event enables current (and future) IDL SIG members to learn more about our community and the services we offer. Plus, 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.

We will announce Virtual Open House registration details as they become available.

IDL SIG Treasurer Report – 2020 Q3

As of August 31, 2020, we have $1,193.62 in our account— $789.19 from community funding and $404.43 in our vested funds.

Since we did not meet in person for the 2020 STC Summit in Bellevue, WA, we did not spend any budgeted funds, including Community Reception giveaways and catered lunch for our annual in-person business meeting. Since Summit, we have incurred the following expenses:

  • One STC Student membership for our student article writing competition
  • Survey Monkey subscription renewal.
    • We use Survey Monkey for our demographic survey, educational webinar evaluations, and elections.
  • Zoom professional subscription
    • In the past, we had used Go To Meeting to host our educational webinars and monthly manager meetings. We decided to switch to Zoom this year to save costs; as a result, we saved about $190 per year.

For the rest of the year, our primary expense will be speaker honoraria once we resume our educational webinars. Since we will have extra funds as a result of not attending Summit in person, we are currently discussing how to spend our remaining community funding most efficiently, since those funds will expire at the end of the calendar year.

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. Over the years, we had earned a significant amount of our income from SIG-sponsored educational webinars. Since we don’t generate as much vested funds now as we had in the past, the amount of vested funds continues to dwindle. Therefore, we depend more and more on community funding for our expenses.

In any case, 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