On Friday, April 1st the Society for Technical Communication New England Chapter opened its annual InterChange conference at the University of Massachusetts Lowell Inn and Conference Center.
InterChange is a two-day, multi-track session conference covering a variety of topics pertinent to the field of technical communication. The conference is put on by the New England Chapter of STC and draws an audience of both chapter members and industry professionals from across New England and beyond. Attendance has grown steadily since InterChange was reborn four years ago, and this year’s turnout more than doubled that of 2015.
“InterChange has grown from a one-day event with 15 people to a two-day event with 65 attendees and 19 sessions!” said event organizer and conference chair Emily Alfson. “The growth of this event is a tribute to the community of technical writers in New England, a group of hearty souls who brave the snow every year to come to this event.”
This year’s InterChange also saw an increase in the number of sessions focusing on digital tools and technology.
“I think part of the conference’s success is attributable to the quality of the speakers and the wide range of critical topics that were addressed in the sessions,” said Chapter Council member Eric Strachan. “There were several opportunities for attendees to expand their knowledge of important tools and technologies like responsive HTML5 in FrameMaker and DITA.”
Especially popular among the sessions offered was a hands-on video editing workshop led by Jeff Hanson. In his session Hanson led attendees through the creation of a basic instructional screencast video with the popular editing software Camtasia. The session included tips, tricks, and pitfalls of the editing process.
“The workshop format was something new for this conference, but one I hope we will see more of in the future,” Strachan said.
First-time conference attendee Adam Charpentier said that he was pleased to see such topics included at the event. “The session that stood out to me was the introductory lesson to Camtasia, since that directly applies to our company’s current direction and, I think, modern trends.”
Other topics covered during Friday’s program included several sessions focusing on ways technical communicators can reëxamine and reframe their workplace contributions.
John Garison shared the benefit of his experience with Agile in “Making Agile Work for YOU!” which explored ways technical communicators can use the popular workplace methodology to their advantage. Deborah Sauer’s “The Experience Comes First” gave a unique perspective on the importance of breaking down workplace silos to better serve the customer by achieving a common focus within the organization.
Friday’s program schedule was segmented by breakfast and lunch networking opportunities catered by the Conference Center. Friday’s lunch included a raffle for conference attendees and a chance for chapter members to publicly acknowledge the effort and success of the event organizers and Chapter council.
Following the end of Friday’s sessions, attendees reconvened for drinks and dinner outside of the conference center at the Lowell Beer Works.
About the Author
Leon Ha has a BA in Journalism from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst and is currently enrolled in the technical writing program at Middlesex Community College. He loves food and works with cheese professionally. Leon is the Assistant Editor of the STC New England News.