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EduSpeak: A Call to Arms!
1996, Nov-Dec (November 04, 2008)
Doug Ryan — chair, Education/Professional Development Committee

The year has gotten off to an excellent start, training-wise, for the chapter. As Ceil Shuman's letter to the editor (see page 6) shows you, the HTML workshops given in late August by Mike Uhl were enormously successful in providing those attending with a quick dose of key new skills. Mike is not only repeating these workshops but hopes to keep giving themópossibly moving on to more advanced sessions while others give the beginner sessions.

Meanwhile, Ceil's call for "more, more, and still more" of these peer-led workshops has not fallen on deaf ears. I offer a "call to arms" this month. As Ceil points out, between us we have a lot of experience in the many areas of professional tech writing and communication. We can be as flexible as we want about the nature of these workshops. For example:
  • As an alternative to creating your own workshop you can team up with other members, setting up a panel format or just sharing the planning work and any teaching or presenting.
  • Workshops can range in focus from specific technical skills to broader professional skills, from FrameMaker, online Help development, and Web search tools, for example, to marketing yourself as an individual, creating and marketing a small business, time management, etc.
  • Create a workshop of any length or format you want — from a weeknight round table to an all-day weekend workshop or continuing series. Similarly, you can set the desired number of participants (large or small) ahead of time, and the more technical, skill-oriented workshops can range from presentations or demonstrations to fully hands-on workshops.
  • Depending on your situation, you or your group can offer the workshop to develop your own skills and experience, charging only necessary costs and contributing your time. Those who already provide training professionally can charge for their time as well, giving STC members a discount while opening up the workshop to nonmembers for a higher fee. We can keep a given workshop low-key (advertised only within the Chapter), or we can open it to the public and advertise externally as well.

This is not unrealistic because the Education/Professional Development committee has been steadily gathering support. Between the interested chapter leaders and members who have already contacted me, 10 to 15 individuals have expressed interest in becoming involved on a regular basis. Several others are already interested in offering workshops.

As a result, what's also becoming clear is that the Committee can be fairly freewheeling in structure, with a relatively small, core group of regulars (or semi-regulars).

By this I mean the following.
  • Core members can solicit and evaluate members' offers to give workshops, build up the Chapter's contacts for possible workshop sites, equipment, and software, and keep track of the overall list of upcoming workshops (which they'll maintain on the Events page of the Chapter's web-site).
  • Members who are creating and offering a workshop will work with the core group to line up the site and other resources, pick the date, and decide about any costs, charges, outside advertising, etc. The core committee can also invite outside training providers to offer workshops if needed.

Along with Mike's continuing HTML workshops we are currently putting together a FrameMaker workshop and considering a short course on the electronic options for marketing one's services.

So this is your wake-up call, dear reader. Think about what you and your peers in this biz can give to and receive from each other in the way of valuable professional skills. Consider as well joining the merry band of core Committee members who can help to coordinate this fruitful exchange (keeping in mind the handy contacts you can make while doing so). Don't wait! Contact me (Doug Ryan) at 490-6927 or dsryan at dur dot mindspring dot com (or any of the chapter leaders you may know, if inspiration strikes when this article isn't at hand). End of article.

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