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By: Luke Powell on September 12th, 2015

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Personalized Learning


integration manager at education elements


I need to confess something; I hate it when people ask me what I do for a living. It is not because I’m embarrassed of my job--I’m really proud to be part of Education Elements and of my contribution to it. It is just that explaining what it is I actually do can sometimes take a really long time.


If you’ve worked in a small or evolving organization you will probably understand--you don’t so much have one role as you do six or seven. I’m often involved in many projects working with teams from marketing and customer service right through to engineering and data analysis. It is terrific fun, but really hard to explain to someone I’ve just met at a barbeque.

I have found that working with such a diverse group of people brings about its own challenges. I often need to explain the same concept to a marketer, a project manager and a software engineer. These people, wonderful as they are, all have a very different skillset and work style. I have found that it is essential to employ many of the techniques of personalized learning in order to get my message across. Here are three techniques that I have found to be particularly effective:

1. Realize that different people have different needs

It is important not to make too many assumptions about what people will have an easy or difficult time understanding. Sure, it is fairly safe to assume that a programmer will get a technical concept quicker than a graphic designer, but even within a team there if often a great deal of diversity. I try to use feedback in the same way that data is used in personalized learning. Move on when people understand something and spend more time on areas that are unclear.

2. Be careful not to leave anyone behind

All too often it is easy to fall into the trap of using a communication method that works great for 90% of the audience but leaves the rest behind. It feels good to get through to people and have them engaged, but be careful not to let this blind you to the people who you are not reaching. Switch things up and try to get everyone involved.

3. If it is not working, change it

There is a technical presentation that I’ve given on Highlight’s SSO (Single Sign-On) a number of times. It always seemed to go okay, but I heard from a few folks that they found it difficult to get the concepts. In response I scrapped a presentation approach entirely in favor of a structured conversation. I’ve found this to be more effective, but I’m still gathering feedback. Maybe I can make it even better still?

Of course the situation that I face is very similar to the one that teachers find themselves in every day. Teachers are required to take on at least as many roles as I do and deal with an even more diverse group of people. The personalized learning techniques that I’ve learned have had a big impact on my work, but as our district partners can testify they are even more effective within schools.



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