Testimonial – Your class has taken my writing up a few notches

Thanks for the class. It has taken my writing up a few notches and has given me confidence that I can move from creative to technical writing.

—Verna, Technical Writing Student, BCIT

Testimonial – “We have raised the bar…”

I have very much appreciated working with you and having you on the team. The work you have contributed to does make a significant difference for the product and our business going forward! I believe we have raised the bar at BCLC and hopefully this will encourage others to take their products / businesses to this level.

I have personally learned a lot working with you and have very much appreciated having you around for the past year on our team—your final gift—you have articulated exactly the environment I strive for creating as a professional: “Relaxed Productivity”. I love it! That’s going to be my new mantra.

—Nathan Kulczycki, Product Manager, BCLC

British Columbia Lottery Corporation

Role: Technical Writer (2016–2017)

Need: In order to “productize” its in-house Lotto! product for external partners (and their clients) in other jurisdictions, Product Development decided its internal technical documents needed to be upgraded.

Solution:

Based on my technical writing skills and my flare for design, I became their document manager. My core responsibilities included engaging with subject matter experts (project managers, developers, engineers, and trainers) to identify audience and scope of documentation (process guides, SDKs, field technician guides, technical specifications, GUI review of user messages and more).

In the end, out of their complex and technical internally sourced materials by multiple contributors, I designed a suite of B2B documents written with a singular voice.

Later, I brought to their attention that their clients had no way to self-serve documents, so I assisted in developing a SharePoint portal with an explanatory matrix to help users understand what documents to use and when.

Tools used:

  • Lotto! ticket terminal (used in stores to produce lottery tickets)
  • Adobe Creative Suite (Photoshop, Adobe…)
  • SharePoint
  • Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint…)

Read testimonials about this position…

Testimonial – All good things must come to an end

When COMM 1008 culminated on August 10, I was reminded of the adage, ‘All good things must come to an end.’ It was a wonderful experience listening to your classes from my last bench. I could proudly say that we have had precious evening hours during COMM1007 and 1008 getting to know the techniques of technical writing and editing. I look forward to working with you in the technical writing world in the near future.

—Shanthini, Technical Writing Student, BCIT

Testimonial – What a powerful set of documents

Yesterday in our working sessions with our inter-provincial customer, they complimented the product document suite. Not only are they starting to realise what a powerful set of documents it is for them, but they also said it presented a really professional image for our product — in fact, they asked if our actual product was as mature as we’re making it look. Great work!

—Jon Chapman CEng PMP , Project Manager, BCLC

Samples

Designing end-user documentation and training

One of the major problems I encounter with technical training and documentation is that it so often focuses on product features rather than real-world tasks users need to do their jobs. My approach is to start with learning objectives and an audience profile and then seeing how the technological feature fits in.

The following two samples (one for training and the other for technical documentation) describe the solutions I employed. They are followed by a new course design I create for a new course at BCIT where I teach.

CKD Patient Registration

With CKD Patient Registration (designed for clinical staff to enter important kidney care information into the clinical software system), the first challenge with training was economising the efforts taken to create and maintain the documentation. I always advocate for a single-source solution that organises information into chunks for re-use. While the ultimate solution is to use a topic-based authoring tool such as Madcap Flare, something similar can be obtained using less feature-rich software.

With the samples below, I started with that big picture of single-sourcing and drilled down to a lesson organised into different clinical scenarios for transfering patients. Although the Adobe Captivate elearning isn’t available to share here, I’ve included similar material (KCC Patient Transfers) that, for the first time, links the software features to real-world clinical procedures.

Selected files:

Webtech Driver Center User Guide

Audience profiling is an important part of training and documentation. For this next sample, we already knew that our audience (truck drivers and dispatchers) was highly visual and independent. I recommended building a guide that was down-to-earth, and I tied each procedure to a task in the order that the user might encounter it during a typical work day. It might seem obvious, but this approach replaced a rather stuffy technical writer style of documenting every feature whether or not the user was likely to use it (we stuck to documenting 80% and left the remaining 20% to Technical Support to address should the user need arise).

Selected chapters from the guide (I designed this document in InDesign using some of its responsive design technology to allow readers easy reader whether on a desktop or mobile device):

Course Design Samples

The following samples show a sample course design done for a course at BCIT.

Testimonial – Words of wisdom on proposal writing

I appreciate the words of wisdom Jason shared in class about persevering and being open to all kinds of writing as a technical writer. Those words were valuable when I began my technical writing role as part of a sales team. It involves a lot of proposal writing, which walks a nice line between informative and persuasive writing. I’m using my strengths, but expanding the scope of my writing skills as well.

—Deborah Hazebroek,Technical Writing Student, BCIT
(now Technical Writer at ENBALA Power Networks Inc.)

Celebrate Canada Day! 15 uniquely Canadian words

How-Canuck

For many new students in BCIT’s Technical Writing Certificate program, I am the first instructor they meet. They usually show up slightly nervous about their writing with all its rules for grammar and style. Sensing their nervousness I’ve devised a fun game to get them to think about the English language and its many variants.

Canada is long in geography but short in history so the fact that our country sports uniquely Canadian English spelling variants is a point of pride among many Canadians. For Canada Day, test your Canadian-ness with these 15 spine-tinglingly unique Canadian spellings.

BC Renal Agency

Role: Technical Writer/Instructional Designer (2014–2016)

Need: Responsible for training clinical staff across several health authorities, BC Renal’s in-house software development department struggled to maintain the standards of its various training materials (online and print). Not only could users not find the information they needed, but trainers were never sure which versions of documents were last updated. The Training department (and by association, BC Renal) was having a crises of credibility.

Solution: Starting with a single 600-page user manual, I restructured the information to be more task based. By developing a system of key documents and sub documents, we could start to customize documentation to training needs (without creating duplicate information).

I then tackled the document template, eliminating unused, unneeded styles, and establishing a style guide). With a single-sourced knowledge base content, we could ensure consistent IT documentation.

While working on the online LMS system, I implemented ADDIE training plans for instructor-led training (ILT) and computer-based training (CBT).

Finally, I assisted in developing a strategic approach to increase effectiveness of communication between IT content and healthcare audience.

Tools used:

  • PROMIS (in-house kidney care information system)
  • Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint…)
  • Doc-To-Help (webhelp authoring and publishing using Microsoft Word)
  • Jira (issue tracking product that allows bug tracking and agile project management)
  • Adobe Captivate (LMS authoring tool for creating elearning content such as software demonstrations according to SCORM standards)

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Testimonial – Bridging the worlds of IT and Healthcare

Jason is able to bridge the worlds of IT and healthcare, crafting messaging about clinical information systems that is clear and easy-to-understand for a range of care providers, from administrators to front-line staff. During his time with the BC Renal Agency, he developed a range of communication tools and streamlined workflow processes.

—Gloria Freeborn, Director of Strategic Organizational Development, BC Renal Agency