UPDATE: CONDUIT 2020 has been rescheduled for October 17, 2020 due to the COVID19/Coronavirus outbreak. We have been fortunate that our Keynote Speaker, Phylise Banner, will still be presenting her keynote on that dates. We will be confirming our other presenters in the coming weeks.
Presented by Phylise Banner
Is there a place for creativity in technical communication? How might innovation manifest in the future of our work? In this opening session, Phylise Banner will address these questions by walking us through the driving factors of innovation, and enabling us to tap into the creativity that lies at our core.
Phylise is the Director of Education for the Society for Technical Communication. She is a learning experience designer with over 25 years of vision, action, and leadership experience in transformational teaching and learning approaches within academia, industry, and government. She is a certified Learning Environment Architect, Adobe Education Leader, STC Fellow, performance storyteller, avid angler, aviation enthusiast, and currently training to be a private pilot. She is also the proud owner of a 1967 Amphicar.
(Listed alphabetically by title)
Developing Voice Applications
Presented by Alan Houser
Twenty years ago, technical communication took the leap from printed manuals to online information delivery. We are in the midst of a similar shift, as voice-based interaction becomes increasingly common. This session will begin with an overview of important concepts and design considerations for voice applications. We will demonstrate the Amazon Echo software developer’s kit and other developer resources for creating voice applications. Finally, will look at the building blocks of voice-based development and demonstrate a live voice-based user assistance application.
Alan Houser is a technical publishing consultant and trainer, based in Pittsburgh, PA. Alan is a past president and Fellow of the Society for Technical Communication and a member of the OASIS DITA Technical Committee and Lightweight DITA Subcommittee. Alan is a member of the IEEE Professional Communication Society (IEEE ProComm) board of governors and serves on the editorial board of the IEEE ProComm Transactions on Professional Communication. Alan is an adjunct instructor at Carnegie Mellon University and an authorized CPTC trainer.
How User Search Terms Can Improve the WalkMe Tool
Presented by Rob Sims
For attendees evaluating or using WalkMe, this session will focus on the performance support tool for cloud applications and websites. Specifically, we will review an actual case in which a WalkMe tutorial increased user adoption of a business web application. The key was to embed content from user search terms and inquiries into the WalkMe tutorial (known as a Smart Walk-Thru). A demo of the WalkMe tool will be provided.
Rob Sims has spent 25 years in the technical communications field as both a technical and marketing communications specialist. He has managed technical content for several cloud applications. He has spoken at a previous STC-Philadelphia Metro event on transitioning technical material into educational content marketing programs.
Interviewing SMEs and Celebrities
Presented by Nicky Bleiel
Interviewing subject matter experts is one of the top skills necessary for success as a technical communicator. Join me to discuss how to prepare for an interview, conduct it, and polish the content. You’ll also learn the “magic question” that will get you the answers you need about new features. I have interviewed many SMEs, as well as tech comm celebrities — including David Pogue, John Carroll, and Kathy Sierra — and I will share my experiences with both types of interviews.
Nicky Bleiel is a Watson Information Developer at IBM. She is a Past President and Fellow of the Society for Technical Communication and has over 20 years of experience writing and designing content for software products in a variety of industries. See nickybleiel.com for her talks and publications.
Kick-start your creativity
Presented by Elizabeth Kuehn
Have you ever found yourself staring at a blank screen trying to solve a creative problem but later experienced a flash of insight while doing something mundane like washing the dishes? In this session, we’ll examine the latest that brain and learning science tells us about creativity, exploring ideas such as the surprising relationships between knowledge, creativity, and innovation. Along the way, we’ll practice several creativity engaging strategies that you can apply to your own work or take back to share with your team.
Elizabeth Kuehn is a technical writer and instructional designer with more than 15 years of experience in the tech space. She works with organizations to build work cultures and systems that support creativity, learning, and knowledge sharing. Elizabeth recently completed a master’s degree in instructional psychology and technology and engages her own creative interests through a variety of mediums, including photography, music, and travel.
Leadership for Optimal Team Collaboration
Presented by Christine Loch
It is the sincere intent within pharmaceutical organizations to create collaborative document development teams that possess an innate sense of seamless connections across all members, regardless of whether members are based within the sponsor organization, vendor companies, or contracting groups. However, through the very nature of these teams, complex constructs exist, and challenges, which may be either apparent or discreet, create a less than optimal foundations for team collaboration. These regional, cultural, and organizational barriers are fertile ground for common maladaptive social constructs, such as in-grouping, inadequate social capital, misconceptions, and a lack of trust, all hampering optimal team functioning. This presentation will look at constructive methods for overcoming these barriers within document development teams. Through comparing and contrasting traditional hierarchical leadership styles to post-heroic leadership models, opportunities for more effective team collaboration for all team members will be explored.
Christine Loch has enjoyed almost 20 years working as a member of research and development teams within the pharmaceutical industry, with the past 10 years as a Medical Writer, supporting regulatory applications worldwide. She is currently completing her doctoral studies at Northeastern University, in Organizational Leadership with a focus on social structures and behaviors that enhance collaboration and innovation in virtual-based teams. She holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in nursing and has presented nationally for the Oncology Nursing Society, and DIA; and has presented regional for the STC. After raising 2 great kids, she now keeps busy with a flock of curious chickens, and a couple of contentious cats.
Plan, Develop, Deliver: Content Strategy Workshop
Presented by Bernard Aschwanden
This is an interactive hands-on opportunity to participate in developing a content strategy. We start by defining some of the components that may be part of a content strategy. This is followed by hands-on exercises as an important part of the session! You help create an overall content strategy framework, develop goals, identify the information architecture, define a metadata and taxonomy, plan for reuse, analyze legacy content, and define governance.
Participants help develop the following components of a content strategy:
- Content Strategy Framework; how an initial framework helps define an entire process.
- Content Analysis; how to review materials for consistency and conversion.
- Goals Framework; how goals help ensure success.
- Information Architecture; how to think about content models.
- Information Governance; how to ensure consistency across documents and departments.
- Metadata and Taxonomy Strategy; how to optimize content for search (and, more importantly, to allow people to FIND).
- Reuse Strategy; how to reduce time, effort, and costs in creating, reviewing, translating, and more.
After learning what a content strategy is, why it matters, and what components are required, we work to implement a plan using industry leading tools and technology.
- Create content that aligns with the content strategy.
- Work with web-based industry standard tools.
- Create, edit, manage, and publish content from a CCMS to formats including PDF and HTML5.
Bernard solves documentation-based problems and helps companies generate more revenue. He guides clients through the best processes to create, manage, and deliver content. Once content is delivered, he helps socialize the message, understand and act on feedback, and improve the process and workflow. He is the founder of Publishing Smarter, an Associate Fellow of STC, and a Past President of STC. Bernard has helped hundreds of companies implement successful solutions. He is focused on publishing better, publishing faster, and publishing smarter.
Running with the bulls: PM the PMs and live to tell about it
Presented by Viqui Dill
My company has a vision for better project management. We have a great record of accomplishment, delivering projects with high quality and within budget, but we often find ourselves challenged to deliver on time. To accomplish the vision, the Project Management Oversight Team was formed to evangelize project management principles and support project managers. This effort included the development of a curriculum of training materials so that our project managers would have a common vocabulary and understanding of processes and tools to have success with projects company-wide. Come hear about our journey and the lessons we learned along the way.
Viqui Dill, as IT Technical Communications Leader for American Woodmark in Winchester, VA, is passionate about continued education and lifelong learning for those in our field. Sharing the tips and tricks she has gathered in her 25 years as a writer, she is actively promoting networking with other writers to help us all learn and stay connected. Viqui describes herself as “Technical writer, wife and mom, bass player, worship leader, I’m happiest when folks sing along with me.”
Mastering Your Website 101
Presented by Tim Esposito
Feeling intimidated about running your own website? Don’t know the difference between your HTTPs and your PHPs? Want to learn some tricks and tips for streamlining your web presence with social media? Then this is the session for you. We’ll go over the basics of creating and running a website using WordPress and cPanel, along with some additional tools designed to make your web mastering easier for you. Within the past two decades the internet has shifted from a technological interest to an everyday necessity. Gone are the days where people created websites on GeoCities just to fill screens with animated GIFs of dancing hamsters. Now that the internet has matured a little, people are learning how to create sophisticated websites without writing the pages manually using Notepad and HTML tags. While knowing some HTML and CSS basics can always be helpful, those skills are no longer needed to create a website from scratch. Today, a variety of companies offer website management software. They make it easy to create visually appealing websites with minimal web-building skills. WordPress is one of the most powerful, versatile platforms for website creation. With WordPress, you can heavily customize your website construction process, or keep it simple, according to your needs. Before using WordPress, there are a few steps to complete first. After you create a domain and find a host for your content, you can install WordPress and begin designing your site. The hosting company may provide additional tools that will further help you in maintaining your website.
Timothy Esposito is an STC Fellow with over 20 years of technical communication experience. He is the past President, VP, treasurer, webmaster, and scholarship manager of the STC Philadelphia Metro Chapter. He lives just outside Philadelphia with his wife and son.
Unlocking the Value of the Polymath Communicator
Presented by Alissa Bonsignore
Technical communicators were once thought to be single-subject experts. Today, we realize that the most successful among us are truly polymaths, bringing together subject matter expertise with our knowledge of multiple media channels, content strategy, user experience, and of course, writing. Yet for all of the skills that we bring to the workplace, we’re often uncertain about how to best communicate our value to management. Attendees will learn the skills of the most successful communicators; discover new ways to leverage their strengths; and be able to demonstrate the value of being a Swiss Army Knife in a world of single-purpose tools.
Alisa Bonsignore is increasingly involved with sustainability communications — helping organizations tell their sustainability stories in a way that benefits both people and the planet. She holds a professional certificate in Sustainability Strategy from Arizona State University. You may know Alisa from her Summit talks, including, “Polymath Communicators: The Future of TechComm” and “Saving Your Sanity Through Better Client Relations.” She is a frequent speaker at conferences and workshops, and is serving her second term on the board of directors for STC.
Using Online Help Data to Improve Content Development and Usability
Presented by Melissa Steventon and Kari Gulbrandsen
The Siemens Healthineers Laboratory Diagnostics platform, Atellica® Solution, utilizes an online help system to provide approximately 12,200 descriptive, procedural, and troubleshooting topics and animations to assist operators. Customers may access context-sensitive help from within a specific window, tab, or error message. Once inside the help, they can search for more specific topics or access troubleshooting branching decision-trees, which walks them through specific scenarios using a yes-no format. A unique feature of Atellica Solution is that it logs the topics that operators access, any search terms that the operators use, and the amount of time they spend on each topic. Having these log data provide our content development team a better understanding of how customers are using the online help, with the goal of identifying specific content improvements or training opportunities. This presentation will provide an overview of the development process and strategy for the Atellica Solution online help, a summary of typical data, and how we are using these data to drive content improvements.
Melissa Steventon is the Head of Atellica® Solution Systems and Software Content Development for Siemens Healthineers, Laboratory Diagnostics, User Interaction Design Department. In her previous career, Melissa published peer-reviewed research in the areas of visual perception, intelligent tutoring, and team collaboration.
Kari Gulbrandsen is a Lead Technical Writer on the content development team responsible for compiling the Atellica Solution online help, ensuring its usability, and managing the approval process. As a writer with an engineering background, she a passion for analyzing data for patterns that help drive content improvements. Melissa and Kari have worked together for seven years.
You can create your own CMS!
Presented by Ed Marsh
It’s easier (and cheaper) than ever to create your own web Content Management system (CMS). Ed Marsh will show you that with freely available open-source tools, some organization, and a bit of coding skills, you can use whatever authoring tool you like to publish to the web with ease.
Ed Marsh, an associate fellow of the STC, has put the technical in technical communicator since 1994. He is currently an information architect at Goldman Sachs in Jersey City, NJ. Five years ago, he created the Content Content podcast, featuring interviews with technical communicators, content strategists, and other content professionals. He also created http://contentcontent.info, a news aggregator for technical communicators.