Technical Communication for the Web

A variety of work experiences has honed my technical communication skills. Two examples of technical writing and design for the Web that I accomplished as an instructional designer are the following:

  • a Web and Digital Accessibility section on the Eastern Kentucky University Instructional Design Center website
  • an EKU Online Student Support Resources webpage for the University’s e-Campus students (note: I did not write all content for this webpage; rather, I placed the content of numerous resources into an accessible package)

Lecture Video Using Lightboard

Sample Lecture Video with Lightboard

Online instructors with whom I work often find using voice-over-PowerPoint useful for lectures, and I then convert those PowerPoint files into HTML5. One instructor who had used this technology decided that he would prefer a more “organic” connection with students, and we alternatively used the “lightboard” concept. The instructor was quite pleased with the results and plans to use it again when the opportunity arises. View one of the lightboard videos we created, using the lightboard and edited and produced with Camtasia 9.

Interactive Activity

Sample Interactivity Activity

One of my tasks as an instructional designer at my workplace is to assist learners in a professional development course develop a media project that is then showcased at the end of the course. In Summer 2017, one of these learners, a professor in the applied engineering and technology area, wanted to create an online, interactive way to teach about acceptance sampling. We accomplished this by using video and an interactive sampling activity that I created in Adobe Captivate.

The Adobe Captivate design was extremely tedious, but I learned a great deal about the software in the process. View the interactive activity (and interact as well!). Admittedly, this is not fully accessible, as a mouse is required.

Lecture Video with Supplemental Imagery

Sample Lecture Video with Supplemental Imagery

Every instructor has his/her own strengths in teaching techniques. When I can recognize these strengths early in online course development, I attempt to help the instructor make the most of them. As I became acquainted with one instructor, I recognized his stellar ability to lecture with feeling and wit. Combining videos the instructor recorded in our on-campus studio with video effects similar to those I had seen in the Coursera MOOC “The Beginner’s Guide to Irrational Behavior,” I created short lecture videos that are interesting, entertaining, and motivational. We uploaded the videos to YouTube and embedded them into the course’s Blackboard site; you might enjoy viewing one such lecture. (The two key software applications I used to create these videos were Camtasia Studio 8 and Snagit.)

Lecture Presentation Using PowerPoint to HTML5

Lecture Presentation

For a science education course at EKU, the instructor wanted to clarify for students the ideas of conceptions, constructivism, and conceptual change. He provided the knowledge, and I located appropriate images as well as narrated a lecture presentation that I then produced to HTML5 using iSpring. View “Conceptions, Constructivism, and Conceptual Change.”

Explainer Video

Sample Explainer Video

Due to the “curse of knowledge,” instructors sometimes assign activities to students without realizing that students may not immediately understand what the activity is about. Seeing numerous instructors assign “annotated bibliographies” when the students might not grasp why such documents are important, I developed a brief explainer video “Annotated Bibliographies … in a Nutshell” using Camtasia Studio and Common Craft images.

Lecture Presentation Using PowerPoint to HTML5

Sample Lecture Presentation Using PowerPoint to HTML5

For a simple, attractive interface to present lectures online, I often recommend the iSpring PowerPoint-to-HTML5 plugin. In these situations, the instructor creates his/her PowerPoint presentation slides and records the audio using such software as Audacity or Camtasia Studio (or even within PowerPoint), and then I combine the visuals and audio into one beautiful package. We then upload the full package to a web server so that students may view the lectures easily and on a number of devices. A sample three-slide segment of an actual lecture presentation demonstrates how attractive, easy to use, and complete the iSpring-produced package can be. (Note: This presentation was created several years ago, and browser security may now block audio. If this happens to you, click forward and backward in the presentation, as this may enable the audio to work properly.)

Motivational “Teaser” Video

Sample Motivational Teaser Video

When I design instructional materials, I strive to make them as motivational as possible: to move the learner to want to learn. An art appreciation instructor at Northern Kentucky University included several documentaries as required videos for her students to watch. Because students may view the concept of “documentary” as inherently dull viewing, I suggested that we develop a “teaser” video for Week 1 of the course to drive students toward watching the videos. The video was stored on NKU’s Kaltura webspace, so requiring the students to view the video in Week 1 would also enable us to check that all students could access the webspace as needed for the documentaries in later weeks.

Instructional Video

Sample Instructional Video

As part of my duties for the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC), I created the first-ever e-learning course for the National Emergency Management Association (NEMA). I wrote and edited scripts, developed storyboards, created images and animations, and developed the course as a series of Flash modules within the Moodle learning management system. I used Adobe Flash to create .swf files for the modules (though today I would plan to use simpler yet highly versatile tools like Articulate or iSpring). View a sample of one of the videos. (The video sample is an .swf file; if your device does not support .swf files, you will be unable to view the video.)

Screencast Tutorial Videos

Sample Screencast Tutorial Video Series

As my graduate school practicum project, I collaborated with the Berea College Hutchins Library staff to design and develop a series of screencast tutorial videos about the library’s electronic catalog, or BANC. Katie Foran, one of the librarians, wrote the scripts (which I then edited) and recorded the audio. I used Camtasia Studio to do the screencasts and produce the “theater” of videos in one package. The videos are still available on the library website.

Website Using HTML/CSS

Sample Website Using HTML/CSS

I grew up attending a small rural Baptist church in south-central Kentucky, and my mother still attends. A few years ago, I designed and developed a website to make the church more accessible to everyone. I designed the Plum Point Baptist Church site using HTML/CSS and placed it on a shared server.

Website Using Weebly

Sample Website Using Weebly

The New Opportunity School for Women (NOSW) provides workshops for Appalachian women determined to rebuild their lives and shape positive futures after circumstances have created difficult times. The NOSW Foundation, the umbrella organization for support and further development of the NOSW campuses, had a basic website, but it left much to be desired. I volunteered in early 2014 to revamp and freshen the site using Weebly. The site has since been revamped (again).