"Solving Information Challenges in the Workplace"
A SLO STC Fall Professional Development Series
October 28th, November 18th, & December 16th, 2002

As a special community service, the San Luis Obispo (SLO) Chapter of the Society for Technical Communication (STC) is sponsoring a three-part Fall professional development series focusing on techniques for more effective information, project, and knowledge management. A Certificate of Completion will be provided to those who attend all three events. Click each date to see the details below.

October 28th: "Giving Customers What They Want -- Self-Service Via the Web"
November 18th: "Keys to Managing a Successful Information-Based Project"

December 16th: "If You Build It, Can They Use It? Ensuring the Usability of Interface Designs"

There is no charge for the series. Everyone is welcome -- especially managers, technical professionals, project leaders, educators, and students who have a vested interest in information-based technology. By partnering with businesses and education, the STC can help solve business problems through a joint exploration of the challenges and solutions facing information technology today.

Topic 1:
"Giving Customers What They Want -- Self-Service Via the Web"
Integrating Software Tools with Information Portals to Create Performance-Based Portals
Monday evening, October 28, 2002 (click here for program details)
Speaker: Chet Leighton, instructor at San Francisco State University, software developer, and national expert on knowledge management and best practices in information and workplace performance.

"Giving Customers What They Want -- Self-Service via the Web" will address the all-too-familiar problem of designing a Web site (a portal) in which visitors need to perform a variety of tasks in a self-service mode. For example, the portal may help students access campus services, employees perform human resource transactions, or customers submit service requests. In each case, however, merely presenting visitors with information does not necessarily mean they can effectively help themselves!

To address this problem, performance-based portals focus on the tasks visitors need to perform. Such portals provide software tools, as well as information, to help people make decisions as they complete their tasks. The result is a much more efficient, successful, and enjoyable experience. Come and learn more about identifying the issues involved -- and the best-practice solutions -- at this highly interactive and information-packed event!


Chet Leighton is an independent consultant who designs and develops Web-based performance support systems. These are business applications for complex problem-solving tasks that support best practices and knowledge management. Recent projects include self-service advising for university students, order entry and customer service for mortgage credit reporting, and forest use planning.

Chet has managed the design, development and implementation of more than 30 mission-critical database applications over the past twenty years. His software experience covers a broad range of applications -- modeling and decision support, information services, product manufacturing and distribution, retail sales, and accounting. Chet has also designed and conducted workshops on database programming and report writing that have been attended by over 400 people in major cities across the U.S. His authoring credits include two tutorials and one reference guide on database reporting writing.

Currently serving as a lecturer in the Department of Instructional Technology at San Francisco State University, Chet teaches graduate courses in instructional design and formative evaluation. For the past five years he has taught "Just-In-Time Learning," a course he created on design principles for complex problem-solving tasks. This course includes use of a performance support system for designing performance improvement interventions. The JIT Learning software has been featured in presentations at several international conferences: International Society of Performance Improvement (ISPI) 2002, Ed-Media 2002, and ForUse 2002.

Chet has a B.A. in Management from St. Mary's College of California and an M.A. in Educational Technology from San Francisco State University.

E-mail: cleighton@infomarksoft.com

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Topic 2:
"Keys to Managing a Successful Information-Based Project"
Monday evening, November 18, 2002 (click here for program details)
Speaker: Dottie Natal, founder of Imagen Multimedia Inc. in Lompoc, and a nationally recognized expert and developer of multimedia projects for academia, government, and nonprofit organizations.

"Keys to Managing a Successful Information-Based Project" will explore ways to successfully manage an information-based project to meet the customer's expectations, on schedule and within budget. Whether you're designing a software interface, Web site, multimedia production, knowledge management database, or instructional system -- and whether your role is team member, project manager, client, or consultant -- you'll receive a bird's-eye overview and invaluable tips for keeping your project on track. Answers will be given to the following questions and issues:

• How do you find clients and projects that fit your interests and/or obtain funding for your own projects?
• Estimating time and resources -- how long will it take and how much will it cost?
• Needs analysis -- what are the needs of the client? Of the end user?
• The design cycle -- what are necessary components of the product? What should the interface look like?
• The development cycle -- what are the nuts and bolts of prototyping, developing and testing?
• How should you select the development environment and professional contributors for the project?
• Show and tell -- some examples of projects and lessons learned


Dottie Natal holds a Bachelor’s degree in mathematics, clear California teaching credentials in multiple subject (grades K-6) and single-subject (grades 7-12) mathematics. For her Masters and Ph.D. degrees (in Educational Psychology/Technology from the University of California, Santa Barbara) work she focused on utilizing computer technology to create change in the classroom.

Dottie has taught at many levels: middle school computer science and mathematics, fourth grade, mathematics in the high school and computer programming at Allan Hancock Community College and for the University of California Extension department for over eight years. She is a frequent speaker at conferences, including educational conferences, drug
prevention, educational, and technical conferences.

Dottie has developed numerous courses for the University of California Extension program at the University of California, Santa Barbara, based on computer technology training for teachers and technology integration into the classroom and assisted in the development of the Multimedia Requirements for the Graphic Design/Multimedia Emphasis degree for Allan Hancock College.

In 1994 Dottie founded Imagen Multimedia Corporation, which has received contracts from the Department of Justice, SBIR grants, CSAP, the US Department of Education and various other agencies and entities to develop multimedia applications. Imagen employs artists, programmers, educators, and researchers in development of educational and dissemination software. Natal is a frequent presenter at educational conferences on technical and technology integration topics.

Imagen is currently working on a large multinational project distance education Web site project. They are also involved in development of educational data collection software for elementary and secondary schools, and a series of multimedia CD-ROM projects for Federal and State clients.

E-mail: dottie@imagenmm.com

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Topic 3:
"If You Build It, Can They Use It? Ensuring the Usability of Interface Designs"
Monday evening, December 16, 2002 (click here for program details)
Speaker: Dr. Erika Rogers, professor of computer science at Cal Poly, researcher in human-centered computing and usability, and developer of educational technology projects including multimedia-based courseware for industrial training.

"If You Build It, Can They Use It? Ensuring the Usability of Interface Designs" will examine the usability of software -- specifically, interfaces -- of Web sites, multimedia productions, information portals, business tools, instructional programs, or any other environment that requires a person to interact with a system on a piece of equipment. Usability has received acute attention in recent years as exasperated customers continue to struggle with poorly designed interfaces, in small software programs to enterprise-wide packages. On the flip side of the coin, stellar examples of good design enable people with little or no expertise in a field such as accounting to do their own books and taxes, often without outside help. So, what makes the difference? Answers will be offered to the following questions and issues:

• What is usability? How do you measure it?
• What key principles support user-centered (or usage-centered) design?
• What are some examples of very good -- and very bad -- interface designs?
• What is the role of usability engineering and testing in system development?
• Is usability testing for software only, or does it include Help, documentation, and tutorials?
• What does a software usability testing laboratory do?
• What benefits will a software usability testing lab bring to our community?
• What are some of the tools and methods used in usability testing?
• What types of research designs are employed?


Erika Rogers is a professor of computer science at California Polytechnic State University. She has a BA in Modern Languages from University of Western Ontario and a BMath in Applied Math and Computer Science from University of Waterloo. She received her Masters in Computer Science from Georgia Institute of Technology in the area of Computer Graphics, and completed her Ph.D. at Georgia Tech in the area of Artificial Intelligence.

Erika's current research interests include: interactive intelligent assistance agents, human-centered computing and usability, human-robot interaction, and computer literacy for adult women. She has worked on the development of interactive intelligent software assistance agents in the areas of diagnostic radiology, remote supervision of semi-autonomous robots, and instructional design. She has also worked on several educational technology projects, including the development of interactive software for introductory CS courseware, multimedia-based courseware for industrial training, and the role of mental models in the development of multimedia courseware. Most recently, she was co-organizer of a DARPA/NSF Workshop on Human-Robot Interaction.

Erika is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), ACM Special Interest Group on Computer-Human Interaction (SIGCHI), American Association of University Women (AAUW) and the Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE).

E-mail: erogers@csc.calpoly.edu

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