Volume 42, Issue 10

June 2003


Components to Look for in Distance Learning Offerings

by Jeff Staples, Senior Technical Writer, Kitba Consulting Services, L.P.

Distance learning programs continue to grow in popularity. They offer full-time employees an alternative to long commutes, geographic isolation, and traditional educational programs. This article examines available research on distance learning courses and identifies various components that contribute to quality in the content and delivery of distance learning instruction and material.


In today's environment of ongoing workforce reductions and more being expected from the remaining employees, "continuing education delivered at a distance via new and emerging information and communication technologies, is no longer a novelty but a necessity for working adults" (Harsh and Sohail, 2002).

As more adults look to distance learning as a viable option, the number of distance learning programs continues to increase. Higher education has now become an arena in which universities from around the world compete with each other for "customers." One avenue for universities to expand their markets is through distance learning via new information and Internet technologies.

Existing research in distance learning education identifies the following four components as contributing to the effectiveness in distance learning offerings:

Resource Structures

Resource structure refers to the elements that may be seen as the basics or "the ground work" for a distance-learning course. These are elements that must be available through online access, such as registration, library resources, virtual classrooms, and interactive media. In a distance learning structure as with traditional face-to-face communications, the choice of appropriate technology is an important element.

For many distance students, access to library and other resources can be extremely limited in isolated areas. And even when access is available, it can be located in congested areas that require wasted hours in traffic-laden commutes. "An electronic reserve collection means that lecturers can provide readings, including single chapters of books, to provide a much wider and up to date resource base for their students" (Gunn et al., 2002, p. 46).

To create a constructive learning environment in a virtual setting, Duin (1998, p. 373) recommends that faculty and students have access to the following virtual classroom spaces:

"With these virtual classroom spaces, faculty and students are able to converse across the limits of time, distance, and space" (Duin, 1998, p. 373). For example, in synchronous sessions such as a MOO, the entire session can be recorded and used for future reference.

Instructor/Student Participation

"The online teaching and learning environment demands strategies and tactics of self-survival" (Duin, 1998, p. 383). The instructor and student must bring their own individual levels of participation to ensure the quality of the overall distance learning experience. Both the instructor and students contribute to the quality of distance learning through their social presence.

Social presence "is the ability of learners to project themselves socially and emotionally in a community of inquiry" (Garrison et al., 2001). It can contribute to making group interactions appealing, engaging, and thus intrinsically rewarding, leading to an increase in academic, social, and institutional integration that can result in increased persistence and course completion.

Instructor-Specific Contributions

Online group learning is student centered and requires that the instructor serve as facilitator rather than lecturer. "The instructor needs to plan the online activities and then follow the flow of the conversation, offering guidance as needed rather than strictly adhering to a preplanned agenda" (Motteram, 2001, p. 133).

The instructor must establish a secure, interactive environment through communicative behaviors while establishing online teaching presence. "Teaching presence includes designing and managing learning sequences, providing subject matter expertise, and facilitating active learning" (Garrison et al., 2001). In addition, by fostering "learning experiences that are open, flexible, and distributed, the instructor provides opportunities for engaging, interactive, and efficient instruction" (Olson and Wisher, 2002).

Student-Specific Contributions

The working adult in distance learning programs is generally well into a career and is often juggling the demands of home and family. "Motivation, therefore, must not only stem from the student's necessity to learn, but also from within" (Harsh and Sohail, 2002). Initiative also plays a role for the student in achieving online learning success.

The cognitive and social strategies students use to learn online, such as detailed discussion and commentary on course content, and threaded responses with messages of socially appreciative nature, impact the course's development and have implications for similar courses taught in distance learning. Therefore, the reciprocal effects of the student/instructor participation lead to the quality of the existing course, as well as to future online experiences that each group may participate in.

Community Essence

In addition to being "an efficient method or tool for confronting or improving an existing educational situation, the Internet also brings together learning communities" (Duin, 1998, p. 386). "The building of a learning community, where all members feel they belong and their contributions are valued, is clearly important" (Gunn et al., 2002, p. 43). The resulting community essence helps to heighten the quality in distance learning.

"Distance learning environments should be designed to include virtual spaces that promote interaction and modes of communication that allow students to develop their identity within the community" (Duin, 1998, p. 376). For example, group work and interaction provides the opportunity to get to know other students and facilitates a feeling of belonging to a community. In developing peer-to-peer interaction within the community, where participants get to know each other better, people begin to feel more secure in giving out their own ideas.

Interactive Communication

"The role of technology in providing access to materials helps to foster interactivity among students and between students and instructors" (Frydenberg, 2002). Student interaction with instructors and other students is an essential characteristic of distance learning and is facilitated through a variety of technologies that deliver the resource structure of the course, including voice mail, e-mail, and synchronous and asynchronous communication. "Student satisfaction and development generally improves as the amount of contact they have inside and outside the classroom increases" (Gunn et al., 2002, p. 47).

"Student-student interaction not only enhances confidence levels, it also facilitates the exchange of ideas among students, which is a necessary process of learning" (Harsh and Sohail, 2002). Individual students will bring varying perspectives and approaches to the challenges in distance learning and the interaction will help give each student a broader and more comprehensive prospective.

"Distance learning should provide for dialogue between student and teacher, emphasize the active role of the student, and allow the teacher to become a facilitator who places the student in effective contact with the knowledge to be learned" (Duin, 1998, p. 373).


"With the increasing pace of change, most adults need to continue to acquire university-level understanding and knowledge throughout their working lives" (Frydenberg, 2002).

As with any educational course or program, it's hard to know the quality of the content and delivery of the material until you try the experience for yourself. For individuals considering a distance-learning course, this report identified several components that help ensure the quality in content and delivery.

Without all of these components being present, the distance course may still be successful but the quality may be lacking. However, with the components listed in this article for quality content and delivery in distance learning, instructors and students will have some idea of what to look for as they evaluate available distance learning offerings.


Duin, Ann Hill. "The Culture of Distance Education: Implementing an Online Graduate Level Course in Audience Analysis." Technical Communication Quarterly 7.4: 365-388. Fall 1998.

Frydenberg, Jia. "Quality Standards in eLearning: A Matrix of Analysis." International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning. 2002.

Garrison, D. Randy, Terry Anderson, Walter Archer, and Liam Rourke. "Assessing Social Presence in Asynchronous Text-based Computer Conferencing." Journal of Distance Education. 2001.

Gunn, Cathy, John Hedberg, and Geraldine Lefoe. "Recommendations for Teaching in a Distributed Learning Environment: The Students' Perspective." Australian Journal of Educational Technology. 2002, 18(1), 40-56.

Harsh, Om Kumar and Sadiq Sohail, M. "Role of Delivery, Course Design and Teacher-Student Interaction: Observations of Adult Distance Education and Traditional On-Campus Education" International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning. October 2002.

Motteram, Gary. "The Role of Synchronous Communication in Fully Distance Education." Australian Journal of Educational Technology. 2001, 17(2), 131-149.

Olson, Tatana M. and Robert A. Wisher. "The Effectiveness of Web-Based Instruction: An Initial Inquiry." International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning. October 2002.

Treasurer's Report of Chapter Financial Status

by Wayne Schmadeka, Information Developer, BMC Software STC Houston began the fiscal year on July 1, 2001, with a bank balance of $41,834. Thanks to the support of the members and corporate sponsors and the resourcefulness of the officers, committee chairpersons, and volunteers, as of March 31, 2003, we had a bank balance of $49,992. We are debt free.


The financial highlights for the 2002-2003 fiscal year include


We are grateful for the generosity of the following corporations and individuals for their financial contributions to the competition and banquet and to the program meetings:

Competition and Banquet

Program Meetings

Teamwork Pays Off

STC Houston President George Slaughter said "The chapter has done great work in managing its assets, and I am very proud of our administrative council for its leadership on this issue."

To the members and corporate sponsors, "Thank you for your continuing support." To the administrative council, committee chairpersons, and volunteers, "Congratulations!"

Houston Wins STC Chapter Achievement, Pacesetter, Newsletter, and Public Relations Awards

STC Houston is once again a Chapter of Excellence!

Chapter of Excellence Award

A chapter earns a Chapter of Excellence Award by successfully completing a number of prescribed activities designed to promote the technical communication profession and the Society within a community.

The citation on the STC Houston Chapter of Excellence Award reads, "For mastering knowledge while providing excellent dedication to the southeast Texas and Louisiana technical communication communities, for outstanding recognition of volunteers, and for providing strong membership services in difficult economic times."

Chapter Pacesetter Award

The Chapter Pacesetter Award recognizes chapters for innovative and successful activities. The guidelines state that this award is "designed as a one-time celebration of excellence in the specific activity for which the chapter is nominated."

The citation on the STC Houston Chapter Pacesetter Award reads, "For exemplary leadership and innovative ideas that support and enhance chapter membership, the southeast Texas and Louisiana community, and the Houston STC leadership."

Newsletter Award of Merit

For at least the third year in a row, Dateline Houston won an award in the STC Newsletter Competition. This consistency is testimony to the fact that STC Houston consistently sets and maintains a high standard for our chapter publications.

Public Relations Award of Merit

For the third year in a row, STC Houston won an award in the STC International Public Relations Competition. Last year we won an award of excellence for our Region Five Conference communications. This year, we won an Award of Merit for our competitions communications. The citation reads, "For excellent use of communication tools."

Winning Track Record

George Slaughter, chapter president, had this to say in an e-mail message to the members:

"These . . . awards contribute to our chapter's outstanding track record. STC Houston has been named as a Chapter Achievement Award or Chapter Pacesetter Award recipient in seven of the past nine years, and the last four years. This tradition of service is a testament to your leadership and enthusiasm, and it has earned the respect of Society leaders everywhere."

Regular Features

Volunteers of the Month

Melanie Boston, Jamie Diamandopoulos, and Jim Hunt

by Dorothy Murray, Senior Technical Writer, Sercel, Inc.

STC Houston is honoring, Melanie Boston, Jamie Diamandopoulos, and Jim Hunt as Volunteers of the Month for June. Combined, they have 15 years of service, editing copy and helping Dateline Houston grow into an award-winning newsletter. When asked about their contribution, Managing Editor Rebecca Taylor was effusive: "Always available for last-minute editing, Melanie, Jamie, and Jim have been pillars in the strength of our newsletter. We've won several consecutive awards in the STC Newsletter Competition, which grades heavily on style and editing. It's one thing to volunteer in spurts (which most of us do!), but Melanie, Jamie, and Jim have devoted years to Dateline Houston. This contribution is extremely important for continuity and knowledge building. This recognition is long overdue!"

Melanie, who has a B.S. degree in physics from Murray State University, has been a senior technical editor with BMC Software for the past five years. She retired from her previous job with Texas Instruments after 20 years of service. A dedicated editor, Melanie lists her extracurricular activities as reading fiction, watching movies, and "editing restaurant menus" before ordering a meal.

Jamie has a B.A. degree in art from Baylor University and an M.Ed. degree in education from the University of Massachusetts. She is director of corporate communications with Decision Information Resources. Previously, Jamie was managing editor of technical publications with BMC Software. In her past life, she was an exhibits specialist with the Smithsonian Institution.

Jamie's favorite pastime is playing with her grandson and visiting with family and friends. She also enjoys reading, listening to classical music, watching classic movies, watching track and field events, and cooking for special occasions.

Jim has a B.A. degree in communications from Washington State University. He began a career in communications with the U.S. Navy. He worked as a radio announcer, freelance journalist, and continuity writer for a PBS TV station. As senior technical editor with BMC Software, Jim describes his role as helping writers produce the best possible documentation. Outside the office, Jim has a passion for country and western dancing.

STC Houston expresses gratitude to the long-serving Dateline Houston copy editors.

Letter From Linda

May Board Meeting Highlights

by Linda Oestreich, Director-Sponsor, Region 5

Wow! What a conference, and what a board meeting (held on Saturday, May 17, in Dallas) to precede it! The general topics of discussion included the upcoming retirement of STC Executive Director Bill Stolgitis and the selection of Peter Herbst as his successor; realignment of the membership dues and rebate structure; chapter loans and grants; and the state of the Society in relation to the changing world we live in.

Ed See, now our immediate past president, shared his thoughts about the past year and extended his heartfelt thanks to the board for successfully navigating a tough year that included budgetary reductions, decreases in expected conference attendance, and the selection of a new executive director for the Society.

The following actions were taken at the May board meeting:

In addition, the board, in executive session, selected recipients of Chapter of Distinction and Chapter Pacesetter Awards.

The following other items were discussed:

If you have questions or comments about the STC board of directors or any of the items mentioned in this article, please contact me or the STC office.

From the President

When the Curtain Falls

by George Slaughter, Senior Technical Writer, The Integrity Group

They say when the curtain falls, it's time to get off the stage. Before I do that, I'd like to ask some folks to stand up here with me and take a bow.

Chapter and Society Leaders

First, thanks to the members of your 2002-2003 STC Houston Administrative Council. Pat Bishop, Deborah Crockett, Steve Cunningham, Rene Gedaly, Robin Jackson, Deborah Long, Paul Mueller, Cindy Pao, Wayne Schmadeka, Rebecca Taylor, and Karen Trossevin have all worked hard to create an environment where you could be successful.

Thanks to Region 5 Director-Sponsor Linda Oestreich and STC Executive Director Bill Stolgitis for their support. Thanks also to former STC Houston presidents Sherri Smith (1980-1981), Gary Foster (1987-1988), Jeff Staples (1996-1997), and Deborah Silvi (1997-1998), all of whom were active during my tenure.

Long-time chapter leaders Erika Frensley, Ron Hartberger, Ann Liggio, John Reynolds, and Steve Shriver have also been active, and I thank them here.

Work and Graduate School

If you want to be STC Houston president, you need your supervisor's support. I was lucky to have two supervisors—Tammey Dunn at The Integrity Group and, before that, Ragna Case at BMC Software—who were supportive, and I thank them here. Thanks also to Shelly Ficalora and Beverly Rogers of Hewlett-Packard, who have also supported my tenure.

As you read here last month, STC Houston has had a Texas Tech stamp during my tenure as director and president. Thanks to my many friends and colleagues at the university for their support.

Friends and Family

Every president has his own circle of trusted friends who know when to administer a pat on the back, or a good swift kick about six inches lower. Thanks to Melanie G. Flanders, Jim Hunt, Ann Jennings, and Nicole and Henry Wycislo for playing that role for me.

I'd also like to recognize three special people who got me involved in STC. Charlie Howes persuaded me to join STC in 1991, just after I moved to Appleton, Wisconsin. JoCarol Gau and Beau Cain first encouraged me to serve as president in 1998 after I returned to Houston. What a delight it has been to share the success of the last two years with these three friends!

Most importantly, let me thank my family. My mother, Cheryl Slaughter, my brother, Mark Slaughter, and my sister-in-law, Reneé Slaughter have been most supportive.

Taking My Leave

In closing, I wish my successor, Jocelyn Williams, and her council the best of luck as they take over.

Finally, I'd like to thank you, the members of STC Houston, for allowing me to serve as your president. We've done much good together, and we can all be proud of that.

From the Editor


by Rebecca Taylor, Product Marketing Manager, Hewlett-Packard Company

It is so easy to become entrenched in my own little space in the universe without focusing my attention on the world around me. Tonight, that larger world manifested itself during the Honors Banquet at the 50th Annual Conference. In a fog, I return to my hotel room tonight feeling overwhelmed with something almost unexplainable—a bubble deep inside that fills me with pride. But there's something new there, too. Belonging and gratitude.

Sure, my throat is raw and my stomach is too full. My hands are sore from all that clapping, but I feel good knowing that I supported and cheered for every person who crossed that stage tonight. We were introduced to our new Fellows and Associate Fellows, authorities in our field who have dedicated their lives to developing and sustaining our profession. We cheered on as chapters were recognized for their consistent achievements, as well as their pace-setting initiatives.

And I realize that at the heart of it, this is what STC is all about: supporting and cheering our colleagues as they travel through their careers. Chances are, those same colleagues that we honor at these events are the ones who have made a difference in our own lives and careers.

In September, a new managing editor will take the reins of Dateline Houston. I'm a little sad to move on because I have worked with such an amazing newsletter team. I worry that I don't recognize them enough because they do so much. It truly has been an honor to work with them. There is more experience and knowledge on this newsletter team than I have ever witnessed, and we are blessed to have such strong and persistent contributors. This is my last "From the Editor" column, so I beg your indulgence while I reflect on this experience, this chapter, and the people who have contributed to my own growth over the past few years.

First, I have to thank those who pulled me into the STC Houston scene. Deborah Silvi may not remember but, when I first moved here, she called to welcome me to Houston and encouraged me to participate. That made quite an impression on a newbie! Then Melanie G. Flanders and Nicole Wycislo recruited me to work on the 2001 Region 5 Conference. I was new to Houston and my career, and their faith in me gave me the confidence I needed to find my feet and stand on my own as a professional. At the time, I thought they were crazy to trust in me to manage the publications for an entire conference!

Lori Buffum, Jewel Darby, and Nathan Taylor hold such dear places in my heart because they were my first team. I will always remember my "kick butt and ask questions later" publications team!

Linda Oestreich, with her unending compassion and contagious enthusiasm, has kept me involved and encouraged me to do more just by watching her example.

And I can't leave out George Slaughter! George gives so much of himself to this chapter. He has become one of my loudest cheerleaders, and everyone should have a loud cheerleader.

Thank you all for allowing me to share a little of myself and for sharing yourselves with me. I look forward to a long relationship!

A Logical Choice

by Gary Michael Smith, Publisher, Chatgris Press

I'm no mathematician. Far from it! I was lucky to get out of a single year of college algebra--and not on the first try. If mobsters mandated that I work with numbers to continue to breathe, I'd choose geometry.

Humble Beginnings

My focus in undergraduate school was threefold: English, journalism, and business administration. I did have a passing interest in the life sciences, excelling in plant and animal biology. And chemistry came fairly easily as well. But when it came to English, I was more passionate than a New Orleanian during Mardi Gras.

Although I respected the sciences, my propensity was for lexis. My first published piece appeared in my high school newspaper and detailed the dilemma of a missing utensil. That's right, "The Mystery of the Missing Bottom Half of the Double Boiler" was my right of passage--my entrée into the literati. Surely a candidate for StrangeFacts.com , this observational essay was the impetus for encouragement from one of my English teachers for my continued literary ramblings.

The creation of inane commentaries and exposés continued throughout college. But it was here that my art became focused.

Always appreciative of science but realizing that I didn't have a snowball's chance south of the Mason-Dixon to shine in this arena, I was intrigued by the one and only technical writing class at my university. But this didn't happen immediately.

I began my soirée among the learned immediately after high school, which in my case was a mistake. Having left the fringes of the Bible Belt of North Louisiana for the debauchery of the Banana Republic, I had grown as wild and riotous as the snakes in the bayous I hunted for their skins. Barely able to concentrate past where I was going to party after class, I rapidly fell out of favor with my professors.

To show them up, I resigned after only a semester and a half and began an illustrious career of climbing telephone poles, jolting around in jittery helicopters to distant oil rigs, and drifting aimlessly on tugboats and offshore supply ships in estuaries of the Gulf of Mexico.

A Second Chance

This calling lasted only about four years before I once again applied for school and was amazingly readmitted to the ranks of academia. Only this time I had more money stashed and more perseverance reserved. Again, the technical writing class in the catalog intrigued me, but sour memories persisted of my last experience.

Although I'd been an A/B student in high school English, the college tech writing teacher actually failed me on an assignment--something about spending as much time on it as I had spent combing my then shoulder-length-plus hair. But he was wrong: I'd actually spent less time on his particular project. However, he was the only professor teaching the course the semester I wanted it.

Willing to give him another chance I enrolled, and he sensed a renewed and sincere enthusiasm within me. He was fair, and I excelled and even volunteered.

I was a documentation machine, a scribe of monumental proportions, detailing with deft the operation of a ballpoint pen and attacking other assignments with equal vigor. Years later, I was even asked to speak to his class about the vocation of technical writing. Writing rather than science, a logical choice it was.

Today's World

Today, analyzing processes, developing procedures, and editing and rewriting what those with other technical talents have developed into tomes comprehensible to operators, field staff, and laypeople has become my raison d'être.

Moreover, the entire field of technical communication is growing exponentially so much that those entering the field now have a plethora of options--from penning software user manuals to designing assembly instructions--to the purest acts of developmental writing and copyediting.

Publishing houses and medical institutions are even advertising now for technical writers, in addition to the traditional copyeditors and medical writers. Such entities are recognizing the need for a highly trained skill base for the design, development, scheduling, and archiving of software.

It's a brave new world for our field today, limited only by our own dreams and desires.

Member Spotlight

STC Houston Members Contribute to Quality Newsletter Win

In the 2002-2003 STC Newsletter Competition, the STC Quality SIG newsletter, DocQment, received a Merit award. Congratulations to STC Houston members Jeff Staples and Rosie Walker, who serve as DocQment managing editor and copy editor.

Letters to the Editor

How We Found Technical Communication (or How It Found Us)

Editor's Note: In the April 2003 issue, my column related my experience in finding a career in technical communication. Here are the responses that a few readers were generous enough to send me. Thank you--sharing your experiences makes us all richer. See also our "From the Members" section where Gary Michael Smith relates his experiences in and visions for technical communication.

Ann Blankinship

I'm writing in response to Rebecca Taylor's article in the April newsletter entitled "From the Editor: Stroll down Memory Lane." Like Rebecca, I had little sense of good writing in high school or undergraduate school at the University of Texas at Austin (UT). I majored in zoology and never considered a career in writing.

I loved learning about science and still do, but by the time I earned a B.A. in zoology in 1970, I realized that I had no interest in a career in biology or zoology.

With college graduation looming and few career opportunities seemingly available, my father, a law professor at Southern Methodist University, advised me to visit graduate schools that interested me. Shy and lacking self-confidence, I procrastinated on this advice until my father became more insistent, telling me from his own experience that graduate schools routinely counsel prospective students. Finally, I made appointments with graduate advisors at the chemistry and math departments, where I found little encouragement.

My last appointment, at the journalism department, produced far different results. The department head, Dr. Ernest Sharpe, enthusiastically told me that my science degree was the perfect background for a career in science or technical writing. I had never heard of technical writing, and neither had my father. But the next fall, I enrolled in the journalism graduate school.

After I labored over several classroom writing assignments, which I enjoyed, my major professor, Dr. DeWitt Reddick, reassured me that I belonged in the graduate school. At the time, UT offered only one technical writing course, taught by Dr. John Walter. I well remember Dr. Walter's comments after reading one of my first assignments: "You can do this work. You can get a job as a technical writer." Those words changed my life. My father, Dr. Reddick, and Dr. Sharpe are gone now, but their persistence, enthusiasm, and encouragement live on in my life's work of almost 30 years in technical writing.

Donna Marcotte

I really enjoyed your article in Dateline Houston. I had similar experience. Though I have none of that early work, I know it was hideous. I HATED, HATED writing in high school. Struggled with it. Was terrible—a B-minus writer.

Then sometime later on, after some business experience and then finally getting to college, it also "clicked" for me. I could think more clearly, knew what I wanted to say and how I wanted to say it. Of course, there are some things I still have to work at. I NEVER want to write another master's thesis and won't. But most other writing is now a pleasure—something I'm good at, something I enjoy.

Chapter News

2003 Region 5 Conference

Join us for Tech Comm Stampede, the STC Region 5 Conference, in fabulous Austin, on October 9-12, 2003. The schedule includes pre-conference workshops, exciting sessions, an outstanding keynote speaker and the Austin experience to liven up your post conference hours.

The call for proposals deadline has been extended to June 16!

June Program Meeting

STC Houston Lu'au

Aloha: Saying goodbye to the past and warmly greeting the future

In Hawaiian culture, auspicious occasions are celebrated with a sumptious buffet, traditional dancing and music, colorful attire, and beautiful flowers. STC Houston invites you and your colleagues to celebrate the completion of our programming season and the anticipation of an exciting new season—with a Texas-style lu'au!

To get into the mood, wear your best mu'umu, Hawaiian shirt, or other colorful casual garments. We'll have a decadent feast, complete with flower leis, music, exotic drinks . . . and a limbo dancing contest! There will be a prize for the most limber limbo dancer.

Come and share the aloha spirit with us as we celebrate ourselves.

For more information about the lu'au, send your questions to Cindy Pao, director of programs, at cindypao@earthlink.net, or take a look at the chapter's web site at www.stc-houston.org.

Raffle changes!

Raffle tickets are now sold separately from the meeting registration. Tickets are sold on a cash-only basis, so please be prepared!

Look for the table inside the meeting room, where you can see the prizes and purchase tickets.

Proceeds benefit the Marx Isaacs Student Scholarship Fund.


Hilton Houston Westchase and Towers
9999 Westheimer Road


Tuesday, June 10


5:30 p.m. Festivities begin




A drawing for various prizes is held at the end of each general meeting. Proceeds benefit the Marx Isaacs Student Scholarship Fund.


Society & Industry News

STC News

International Student STC Competition Winners

Houston Student Among Winners

STC sponsors the International Student Technical Communication Competition (ISTCC) to recognize excellence in technical communication at the high school level.

The ISTCC is a tiered competition. In the first stage, students submit entries to their local STC chapters. Entries that win awards of Distinguished Technical Communication at the local level are automatically submitted to the international competition. Meeta Wagle was Houston's 2002 winner.

To see abstracts from each of these winning entries look for future issues of Intercom.

Distinguished: Meeta Wagle

"Wood" it last? Weathering of Unfinished Softwood and the Role of Various Clear Finishes—Sponsored by STC Houston

Excellence: Eric First

Augmented Reality: A Vision of the Future—Sponsored by STC Orlando

Merit: Andrew E. Lai

Miscommunication: The Role of Cell Cycle Regulators in the Development of Cancer—Sponsored by STC Orlando

Honorable Mention: Alexia Ash

The Evolution of Computer Control—Sponsored by STC Orlando

Honorable Mention: Xiaojing "Bonnie" Li

The Science Behind Photography—Sponsored by STC Orlando

For more information about the ISTCC, go to www.stc.org/student_competitions.asp. For details on our next chapter student writing competition look for future issues of Dateline Houston.

Educational Opportunities

STC Phone Seminars: Writing for Magazines

Presented by John Hedtke on June 18, 12 to 1:30 p.m.

Regardless of the type of writing you do, you should try your hand at writing articles for magazines. It's fun, profitable, and can be done by anyone who has a few extra hours here and there. This seminar is a practical look at how to write and sell magazine articles of all kinds. Topics will include the following:

Writing for magazines is a good way to earn extra money, develop a new skill set, and add pizzazz to your resume. You'll also be able to publicize your skills as a writer and use the experience as leverage for additional professional development and opportunities. A handout with a sample cover letter, printed and online references, and other information will be provided.

What Is a Telephone Seminar?

A telephone seminar is much like a large conference call where the speaker makes a presentation over the phone. You dial the 800 number from your phone, enter your personal identification number, and you're connected! You then sit back and listen to the presentations and join in the lively Q&A discussion.



With a telephone seminar, the cost is per site, not per person. U.S. sites cost $145. An additional $10 is charged for registrations received less than five business days before the seminar.

Sign up today at www.stc.org/seminars.asp.

Networking Opportunities

If you have a networking opportunity to share, please tell us! Go to www.stc-houston.org/contacteditor.htm.

Volume 42, Issue 10

June 2003