Manager’s Report

By Marcia Shannon

SIG Manager

Welcome to the first manager’s report of 2020. First, thank you for renewing your membership with STC and IDL. With your support and participation, the IDL SIG continues to thrive. Your leadership team has planned activities throughout 2020 to provide the education and community networking that support your career in technical communication. Watch for email announcements and check the website for details of upcoming events.

First quarter was busy. January 31 was the deadline to submit the Community Achievement Award application. Completing that very detailed form was a good review of all that the SIG accomplished in 2019. It is also a good checklist of what other activities we can complete in 2020. In February and March, Ed Marsh and Kelly Schrank shared useful information that you can use to advance your technical communication career. Both webinars are available on our YouTube channel.

The Student Outreach Essay competition deadline was February 22. Judging continues through March, so watch for announcements about the results. If you missed this year’s deadline, start planning to enter the next competition. Submissions are welcome throughout the year. The SIG needs support from educator members to encourage their students to enter the competition. It’s a good opportunity to be published before graduation. Suggest that students rework an essay they submitted in class to meet our newsletter style.

The hot items for second quarter are holding the annual SIG election and planning our Summit activities. Both are opportunities for you to become involved in the SIG. We plan to introduce new leaders and members during the IDL SIG Business Meeting at Summit. We invite you to be part of our celebration.

The strength of any community depends on participation and the willingness of members to work together to make the group thrive. Your next opportunity to do that is the annual elections. There are many open slots on the leadership team, both elected and appointed. Appointed means that you step up and say “I can do that”. Cheers from the other leaders will welcome you!

We need two assistant co-managers to transition to 2021’s co-managers. This is a coordinator role, not as burdensome as managing. If your career goal is any level of management, this is an opportunity to try your wings with plenty of support from other leaders.

We need a secretary. My experience as secretary was uncomplicated: Attend the monthly meeting, or listen to the recording, then write and publish the minutes. It usually took about three hours across a couple sessions each month.

Committee members can take turns covering a position or work one part of it. For example, one member of the Social Media committee could handle Twitter while someone else posts to Facebook. The committee chair would coordinate the work.

You could learn webinar management as part of the Programs committee and add it to your skills list for that next job review.

Without participation, there is no SIG. Please share your talents to keep our SIG thriving!

Marcia Shannon
Marcia Shannon

Marcia Shannon was secretary from 2016 to 2018, assistant co-manager for the SIG in 2018, and transitioned to co-manager in 2019.

Letter from the editor – Q4 2019

By Kelly Smith

Welcome to the last issue of IDeaL: Design for Learning for 2019!

A lot has happened this year in your SIG! Your volunteer leaders have brought you webinars, events, and great articles throughout the year, and I would like to thank them for all their hard work in organizing, promoting, and recording these events to share with all of us.

Speaking of articles, if you’d like to contribute to the newsletter, please email me! The deadline for the March issue is March 3, 2020. I am always looking for more book reviews, articles about how you use instructional design in your work, and biographies of new members. If everyone contributes, we’ll have a stronger newsletter, and a stronger body of knowledge on our website.

Also, if you’d like to edit the newsletter, please let me know. I have been in this position for nearly two years now and would like to start training a backup with an eye toward transitioning it to a new editor. The ideal editor should be someone with a passion for instructional design, a good editing eye, and a commitment to staying on schedule. We use the AP Style guide and WordPress, so knowledge of one or both of those would definitely be a plus! (But never fear, we're happy to teach you!) If that sounds like something you'd like to get involved in, drop me a line!

This is a relatively short edition of our newsletter, so take a few minutes out of your holiday week to check out what’s new in your SIG!

  • Our co-manager, Marcia Shannon, shares information about the student essay competition and asks for more SIG members to step up and volunteer for leadership positions in her co-manager's column.
  • Jamye Sagan provides a year-end treasurer’s report.
  • Viqui Dill fills us in on upcoming programs about podcasting, networking, and adding value as a technical communicator.
  • And finally, we have the last of our 2019 student essay competition articles, this one by Nicole Wylie on the topic of storyboarding in instructional design.

I hope you are all having a happy and relaxing holiday season and I look forward to seeing you all at Summit in Bellevue in May! Happy Holidays!


Kelly Smith
Kelly Smith

Kelly Smith has been Managing Editor of the IDeaL newsletter since May 2018. She also serves as membership manager for her local chapter – STC Southeast Michigan. Kelly works as Senior Technical Writer at Dart Container in mid-Michigan and has been active in the STC since 2015. In her free time, Kelly is a quilter who enjoys quilt retreats and buying fabric.

Programs update

Your IDL SIG has a great lineup of webinars planned for the winter. SIG members attend our webinars for free and have access to a complete library of past webinars as a benefit of membership. Register now for our webinars and make a serious investment in your #techcomm career.

March 19

It's time to get your networking game on in time for #STC20!

Engineering Your Networking Experiences webinar with Kelly Schrank

"Engineering Your Networking Experiences" webinar with Kelly Schrank

Storyboarding Instructional Design

By Nicole Wylie


Instruction designers (ID) develop educational experiences. This task comes with the challenges of developing a product that is user friendly in a timely manner. Storyboarding is a tool that instructional designers use to deliver instructional designs and experiences through a linear sequence of images. These images visually predict and explore a user’s product experience. Storyboarding can aid to streamline the creation of instructional products. Ideally storyboarding is the solution for instructional designers to enhance their workload; however, that may not be the case. It is important to compare the benefits of storyboarding to the disadvantages, allowing instructional designers to determine if the process will benefit them.

Advantages of storyboarding in ID

Storyboarding is known to solve problems that instructional designers face in their everyday workload. The two main problems ID faces are:

  1. Slow turn-around time.
  2. Lack of guidance from subject matter experts (SME).

A solution for both of these problems lies within storyboarding.

Slow turn-around time

Instructional design involves two groups of people—IDs and SMEs. Both parties have very different jobs and are required to find common time to work on a project, causing difficulty in collaboration. This process becomes increasingly difficult when both parties come from different departments or companies. Traditionally, once an ID project has begun development, changes are difficult to make due to the nature of the project, causing an slower output when designers have to backtrack.

Storyboarding is a way to streamline a lengthy communication and development process by creating a visual representation of the learning process. This allows a SME to look at an instructional product and point out errors, and places in need of improvement. A storyboard structure will limit communication errors that will hinder the development process. It is easier to change content in a storyboard, than in an instructional product. Before finalizing a product, this is the most efficient way to work out any issues an instructional designer may face after development has begun.

Lack of guidance

Due to the communication issues instructional designers face with SMEs, there also is a lack of guidance on the content they are developing. Instructional design is a field where many of the developers on not well versed in the content they are creating. With that, their SMEs often don’t dedicate time for questions and clarification. Storyboarding can help with that process.

By creating a visual map of your instructions, it is easy to point out areas where you need clarification, or issues in the users learning process. By having this map, you can easily share where you need guidance with little explanation. This can also help the designer develop questions that will help the overall process before a meeting, to ensure there isn’t an overwhelming need for back and forth the SME may not have time for.


With the advantages of storyboarding to develop ID there are also disadvantages to the process. As the solution solves major issues in the process it develops others.

The two main issues surrounding ID and storyboarding are:

  1. Lack of software.
  2. Linear output.

For storyboarding to work there are assumptions about the ID development process that may not be true.

Access to storyboarding software

For professional instructional designers a company will give them a set of tools needed to do their jobs correctly. Seldom will an organization feel it is beneficial to invest in storyboarding software and training to develop content. With that, there is no software dedicated specifically to ID. The designer would have to invest their own money in it, and use a program that is made for film. That step would cause further issues as one member of a team would be working separately. Unless storyboarding is a solution a company is invested in or the designer is freelance, the process will not work.

Linear output

Storyboarding is a linear process causing a linear output. This approach to learning can hinder the user’s experience. A concept may be best presented in a matrix fashion where learning points can be cross-referenced or taught parallel to one another, in order to enhance an understanding of concepts. The design is not always going from point A to point B.


Storyboarding can be a useful tool in the world of ID but it is not for everyone. If a designer is creating a learning process that is best developed in a linear fashion, while having access to the correct software, it can help the ID development process in a positive way. Creating a storyboard when it does not best fit the learning plan can cause issues in development and user interaction. It is up to the designer to research and determine what development practice is best for them to make the most impactful user experience.


Sunil Kumar B. “Creating e-learning Content Storyboard Based on Instructional Design Principles”. 2013

Cultta, Richard. “storyboarding”. 2018


Nicole is currently completing a Graduate Certificate in Technical Communications at Seneca College, after receiving an undergraduate degree at York University in Professional Writing. She is excited to transition into the field of Technical Communications. Outside of writing, she is interested in Art History and enjoys reading.

IDL SIG Treasurer’s Report – Q4

By: Jamye Sagan, IDL SIG Treasurer

The SIG continues to maintain a healthy amount of funds for 2019. As of October 31, we have $1,759.15 in our account.

The SIG did not incur any expenses during August, September, and October. The SIG made a modest profit from Viqui Dill’s October 1 webinar and may also make some profit from the remaining webinars offered this year.

In November and December, the SIG anticipates the following expenses:

  • Speaker honoraria for the remaining webinars this year
  • STC student membership reimbursements for students whose works were published in IDeaL
  • Virtual Open House door prizes

The SIG is also currently working on its budget for 2020. Our team reviews the budget to ensure funds benefit as many IDL SIG members as possible.

If you have any questions about SIG finances, please email me at

Jamye Sagan
Jamye Sagan

Jamye 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.