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Toby, Instructional Designer

Posted: May 17th, 2021 Posted In: Employee Spotlight

The Employee Spotlight is a monthly feature that highlights the great talent we have here at Angus Systems. This month we get to know Toby, a Documentation Specialist and skilled craftsman on his free time!

What is your education and background?

I’ve always been interested in both computers and writing. I took creative writing and computer science courses throughout high school. In university, I started by studying Computer Science. It was then that I realized that although I liked certain aspects of computer programming, debugging code wasn’t my thing. So I changed my studies to Computer Systems and Network Technology, which also included Computer Repair and Maintenance.

While I was in university, I held a part-time job working in tech support for an Internet Service Provider, where I exercised empathy towards customers having technical issues with the service, and learned that I truly like helping people. My past experience has helped me in the role I’m in now because a big part of my role involves understanding what information would be useful to customers.

Also during that time, a company that developed MP3 encoders approached me because they were interested in the skins I was creating for fun. So they asked me to try out their encoder to provide some feedback. The company later invited me to write a few sections of their manual, and I suggested some revisions to their manual in its entirety. They agreed to hire me as a technical writer, and this is how my career became focused on composing software-specific documents.

What is your role at Angus Systems and what are your main responsibilities?

As an Instructional Designer, I primarily create eLearning content for Angus AnyWhere, including narration. I sometimes write the narration script as well.

How have your responsibilities expanded since you started working with the company?

My responsibilities shifted a lot when I switched from Technical Writing to Instructional Design and became part of a team that works on eLearning content. It’s a related field that overlaps with my skill set but working with the eLearning software and recording my own narration were new skills that I had to pick up. I’d have to say that narration has been the most difficult to get right, and improving in that area remains a priority for me.

The thing I enjoy most about the change is that is that it gives me a chance to collaborate more closely with someone on a project or task, which can feel more rewarding than simply working alone through a work queue.

What do you like most about working at Angus Systems?

Mostly it’s the people here, who have a generally friendly and helpful attitude. We’re all in this together, and we come together to make the best product that we can.

What are some of the things you’ve learned while working here?

I’ve learned more about HTML and JavaScript from working on the proof of concept projects. I’ve also honed my skills in general when it comes to creating Online Help and video tutorials. Those are gradual things that I don’t tend to notice unless I refer back to some of my earlier work. Sometimes that contrast can be a bit jarring.

Is there some contribution that you’re proud of?

In addition to the work I did years ago on the contextual help system for Angus AnyWhere, I’m proud of how much I’ve improved as a narrator and audio editor – although there is definitely room for continued improvement.

Is there something that people would be surprised to know about you?

I enjoy working with my hands, and at one time I really enjoyed making furniture for myself. I liked being able to customize the size and the structure of my furniture in order to make exactly what I wanted. I have made a couch and a couple of bed frames.

If you weren’t working at Angus Systems, what would you be doing?

After going through the mostly enjoyable experience of writing and self-publishing a science fiction novel in 2019, I’d have to say that I’d probably be trying very, very hard to make a living as an author.

What are some of your personal hobbies and interests?

I am currently working on a second novel. I also enjoy building custom computers, music composition, and reading science fiction/horror.

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