Analysing the interview

Nobody likes the sound of their own voice….I am confronted with the task of having to listen to my own voice regularly while pursuing this M.A. In fairness, I see the benefit of this as the cringe is getting less every time!

I conducted the interview at a time when public awareness of the severity of the Covid-19 crisis was starting to emerge in Ireland. The interviewee was still comfortable meeting me, however we agreed not to shake hands and adhered to social distancing. A few weeks after conducting this interview, businesses across the country were closing to stop the spread of the virus. The recording I made of the interview sat untouched amid this unprecedented madness. It was weeks later before I finally listened to it.

The familiar feeling of discomfort that comes with listening to your own voice faded a few minutes in. Instead I began to focus on aspects like the tone of my voice when I asked a question, there was times when I sound confident and interested, and other times where my voice shakes and it’s clear I am reading.

Of course, what’s most important is the quality of the information I got from the interviewee. It was my job to go out there and find as much out about their professional life as possible. We cover a lot of ground but in hindsight I wonder if I could have slowed the interview down a bit more.

One thing I noticed was that I was focused on giving my interviewee as much freedom as possible to talk. I tried to keep questions broad and would often pick up on something in the reply that would cause me to ask further questions. This resulted in getting some great information about the interviewee but also meant that I would end up asking some questions out of sync. If the interviewee answered a question on my list at an early stage of the conversation I tried to not ask again.

I took some notes of the conversation, but as it was recorded I felt comfortable being present in the conversation and kept the writing to minimal.

Overall I felt the interview went well, and I really appreciated talking to someone who works in the field.

Thoughts on…

The Interview

The next assignment due is the first part of the interview assignment, which involves scheduling an interview with a professional in the field of technical communication or instructional design. I will be interviewing a Senior Content Developer as part of this assignment and I also have to draft 30-40 potential interview questions.

It’s clear that this semester is far more focused on the practical side of things compared to semester 1. I’ve discussed my difficulties with regards to learning different software tools in a previous post. So really, compared to that, an interview should seem like a breeze. However the closer it gets, the more intimidating it becomes….

In preparation, I have tried to learn as much about the profession as possible. Something I keep seeing echoed on blogs and the “technicalwriting” subreddit is the view that “every day is different” and there is definitely not a one size fits all career path. I’m not sure yet if this makes drafting interview questions easier or harder..

Overall I’ve really been enjoying learning more about the field and it’s been invaluable to read “insider info” about what to expect from a career in technical communication. I’ve included the reddit link below as I think there’s some really interesting posts on it.


Soft is not the word I would use….

Getting to grips with the different software applications has been a challenge.Although I had considered myself computer literate, coming from an Arts background, I have not really had to depend on using anything other than Microsoft Office to complete an assignment.

Back in November, I decided I would subscribe to the Adobe Creative Cloud software pack so that I could mess around with different applications. The price is pretty reasonable considering you get a range of applications. I also thought this would be a good time to update my trusty windows PC to a sleek MacBook pro. So began a confusing and disheartening time. It’s always good to try new things, but trying several new things at once was perhaps shortsighted!

My assignments would save to secret compartments of the Mac which would take me 20 minutes to find. Panic would ensue and the computer became filled with various folders of duplicate documents as I would have to re-download lecture notes and slides after mislaying them within the mysterious depths of the slim hard drive. To make matters worse, I soon found out that Adobe Framemaker, one of the most popular documentation tools, is incompatible with mac OS. However, you can’t miss what you never had and I slowly began to learn the basics of Adobe Indesign.

In terms of tutorials, Adobe is brilliant and has a wide variety of courses for different levels of experiences.I did make use of these, but I mostly subscribe to the “learn by doing” philosophy. I think it can be useful to play around with the tool a bit and then watch the tutorial. At least that’s what seemed to work for me.

All in all it has been difficult to be out of my comfort zone on the technology side of things. I considered going the dissertation route for that reason, but I think the challenge of the development project will be more beneficial. Looking ahead, the Dreamweaver assignment we have coming up is quite intimidating but that’s a story for another blog…

Solutions outside the Box

An investment in knowledge pays the best interest. –  Benjamin Franklin

When free education was introduced in 1967 only 10% of school leavers progressed onto third level education. Within a relatively short period of 50 years that number rises to around 60% (The Irish Times). Today Ireland is one of the fastest growing economies in the EU and we pride ourselves on our highly skilled workforce. It is arguable that the two driving factors behind Ireland’s success have been joining the EU and the introduction of free education. This shows the power that education can have not only for the individual, but for society as a whole.

Distance education provides an avenue to opportunity for people who might not have been able to access traditional education for a variety of reasons; geography, time, resources etc. As more and more remote areas gain internet access, the possibilities for distance education seems endless. The terrible paradox that someone could potentially own a good quality smart phone but not have a roof over their heads is sadly a reality faced globally. Some governments are taking initiative and developing targeted e-learning courses for certain demographics. An example of this is in the UK where they have created an e-learning app for carers to teach them how to apply the skills they’ve learned as carers into other jobs. (Carers UK)

It’s really interesting to me to see distance education applied to situations like this and to come across e-learning solutions that think outside the box!

When college and work collide

I work for a tech company as an at-home advisor, basically helping people troubleshoot problems with their phones. The job is great for students as they drop the hours during semester time. One aspect of the job is every week we get an hour to complete SGT’s (Self Guided Training). We are regularly assigned short e-learning courses on new products, changes in procedure and general refresher courses. SGT’s are critical in forming the skills needed to do this job well. Therefore, good quality e-learning courses are essential to this role. As it is home based, the initial training was given via a 3 week, full-time, interactive, online induction course. However, unlike most jobs, an hour of training is scheduled for all advisors every week. The ongoing nature of this is really interesting to me. I think it is a really positive and clever way to support employees. In addition to giving us an hour break from customer facing time, I have found that it increases my confidence and ability to support customers.

With online training being such an integral aspect of my current position, I thought it would make an interesting blog post to reflect on how e-learning in the workplace is received by employees. I think I am in a unique position, on one hand I am learning how to create and develop good training courses and on the other hand, I am a recipient of such courses. This has made me think deeper about the training I am given in work, and often I find myself criticising aspects of the courses or analysing them in terms of instructional design.

In general, I think there is a consensus among the advisors in my group that the training is fundamental and taken seriously. I was slightly surprised by this as I thought that some people might just rush through the online courses and use the allocated SGT hour for other things. However, it seems to be the case that most have recognised the value in the SGT time and strive to pass all modules assigned. Which, is a clear point for the field of e-learning when you consider that most of my colleagues are young college students who most likely would rather to be doing something else!

About this blog

This blog will document the highs and lows of my experiences undertaking a M.A in Technical Communication and E-learning. Reflections on all aspects of my work for this course will be posted here. I will also blog about interesting content or ideas related to technical communication and e-learning. For reference, I am currently planning my development project, which is to develop an e-learning resource in Irish Women Poets. Choosing the development route over the dissertation route was a tough decision but I am looking forward to the challenge and documenting some of the process here!

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