The pandemic dealt a severe blow to many people. For many of us, it meant no traveling to work, leaving more time for family and for learning. With schools closed, many educational institutes and colleges soon started to offer online courses. This is when we seized the opportunity to leave a positive impact during these unprecedented times.
We were two simple and sober user assistance (UA) developers who focused on writing and UA training in India. Our journey began back in 2019, when we started conducting trainings and creating content to be presented across organizations. Our aim was to promote everyone’s right to education as it plays a fundamental role in human, social, and economic development. And our focus was to bring user assistance out into the world: tell people what it is, what we do, and inspire them to become part of this wonderful community.
We approached colleges and universities across India, determined which trainings would be most suitable for them, and developed tailor-made content and lessons to support targeted learning outcomes. Due to the travel restrictions during the pandemic, we delivered classes online. Each lesson went for 90 minutes, with the last 15 minutes devoted to Q&A.
We made best use of technology and available content in blogs, YouTube videos, books as well as curated content and a whole lot of websites. Based on our students’ learning abilities, we continuously modified our content. We divided them into modules and added a personal touch by including examples and stories from our journeys as UA developers.
We designed our own assessments and regularly consulted with the heads of institutions to assess whether we were going in the right direction and whether our content was valuable. These assessments were unique to the target groups. There were quizzes, game-type activities, online polls, dialogue simulations, and more to help us modify the content where necessary. Depending on the performance, we would either modify the content or coach participants using different methodologies.
There were many students who were inspired by listening to our stories. Some of them had no idea what technical writing was. We reached many students who aspired to learn and write about technology, but didn’t know which career suited them.
By early 2023, we had conducted over 50 internal and external trainings with students from schools, colleges, and various NGOs. Our sessions included technical writing, soft skills, leadership, health and wellbeing, and other essential topics. We supported first-generation learners, particularly from economically challenged backgrounds, on their journey to gain employment in technology.
Based on the needs of institutions, some sessions were a part of a series of technical sessions provided by organizations while others were provided as a one-time session. We have by now impacted more than 20 universities across ten states in India, adding up to 3000+ people across the globe.
During our journey, we learnt that understanding our target audience was just as important as creating the content and delivering it. Owing to this, we modified our content for every session we delivered ensuring that the participants could make the best of the knowledge we shared with them.
Our training program provided us the opportunity to think outside of our regular work and serve society on a different level. We learnt about different cultures, customs, and languages, and our public speaking skills took a great leap. Most rewardingly, we were announced as winners of the SAP User Assistance Award for showcasing creatively and inspiring others. We also received multiple Purpose Awards at SAP Labs India for our excellence in Social Service and for walking that extra mile.
Social volunteering taught us many valuable lessons. One of the most significant ones is how much of an impact we can have on the future of technical communication.