Getting to Know: Colleen Brogan
2U is a company full of amazing people. We have a very serious “No Asshole” policy in place when recruiting, and those who are hired are not only talented individuals but they come from fascinating places with interesting backgrounds and have incredible stories. Last week we profiled CEO, Christopher Paucek and today we’re talking with Colleen Brogan, a content strategist in our New York office.
2U: When did you start working at 2U?
Colleen: October 20, 2012
2U: Where were you before 2U?
Colleen: The Museum of Modern Art in New York
2U: Where did you go to school?
Colleen: Brown University
2U: What is your favorite part about working at 2U?
Colleen: I love learning the stories of our faculty, what their passions are, and visiting them on campus to better understand their content and teaching culture. My favorite moments on the job are when the faculty and I discover how technology can offer a creative license to their course. We have been able to interview and record practitioners or experts across the country for many of our graduate and undergraduate programs, and our team collaborates with professors to translate class activities for more students to experience in a more interactive way — maybe in a class of 100 on campus, only one brave volunteer gets the opportunity to experience an activity or experiment. With smaller class sizes and the flexibility of self-paced coursework and live class time, we have often been able to successfully translate an activity online so all students get that first-person "volunteer" experience, and the entire class is richer from the process. That type of creative reinvention makes me excited about the impact of online learning and proud to be part of 2U.
2U: What is the most challenging thing you’ve encountered at 2U, and how have you overcome it?
Colleen: One of the most challenging parts of the job for me has been moving from a very beautiful (and physical!) museum office at The Museum of Modern Art to collaborating almost entirely by phone and video conferencing with faculty and production teams. I miss the ability to stop by someone's desk and have a conversation that doesn't need to be scheduled and require technical set up, or the walk to and from a meeting where you get to talk about things that are on their minds. While I find this to be a challenging aspect of the job, I also respect that this remote experience is the same experience of our online students, so it really drives home the importance of being able to design content that bridges the distance and gives online students an engaging and personable experience.
2U: Tell us about your biggest success at 2U.
Colleen: My biggest success at 2U has been planning and helping produce the Ireland in Rebellion Semester Online course. It was a perfect storm — Trinity College Dublin, #1 university in Ireland situated in the heart of Dublin’s city center, building a course on the rebellions that shaped Ireland’s history and identity. I’m so proud of the ambition and vision of the Trinity College Dublin faculty and administration and their enthusiasm to dream big about how to build an excellent version of the online course for an international audience. We spent time in the planning process thinking about this new audience: on campus at Trinity, 78 percent of the student population is from Ireland. These campus students’ understanding and experience of their rebellions is quite close to home and still top of mind in the country’s political conscience. On top of that, Trinity College Dublin is situated right at the heart of the historic sites of rebellion and played a fundamental, sometimes controversial role in the rebellions of Ireland’s past. To translate that immersive experience to the online student and bring the contemporary nature and controversy of commemoration to the forefront of the international student’s mind, we planned a course bringing in 15 guest perspectives with diverse and conflicting ideas on commemoration, historiography and the importance of these events in Ireland today. Then we filmed on-location, behind-the-scenes shoots of some of Dublin’s historic landmarks that a Trinity College Dublin student cannot and should not miss. I’m incredibly proud of the course and so grateful to the Trinity College Dublin faculty and administration and the 2U production team for stepping up to the challenge and truly making something world-class.
2U: Anything else you’d like to share about your time at 2U?
Colleen: Working at 2U has been a dream — collaborating with world-class faculty to deliver rigorous, for-credit online courses has shown me the potential impact technology has on learning in the future. That being said, the job has me completely tethered to the computer screen, always either video conferencing with faculty or collaborating with the production team on logistics for an upcoming course. The public health professors that I have the pleasure of working with for our online MPH program will tell you that sitting for that many hours in a day will take years off your life! To take a break from that, I, like a lot of the NYC staff, go to the incredible Chelsea Piers Sport Center gym right next door to our office. I've always been more of an outdoors athlete, but that beautiful gym has become my second home. I've started training for the modern pentathlon, a competition that includes epee fencing, a 200m freestyle swim, show jumping, and a combined running and laser pistol shooting final race. It's bizarre and a total challenge.
2U: One of 2U’s longstanding traditions is something called “Who Dat?,” a game where you tell three things that no one else would know about you. What are your three things?
1. For the first year of college, I studied Egyptology
2. I have two different color eyes (one blue, one green)