At Remote Learner, our greatest strength is our staff. We have a diverse group of employees around the United States and Canada, individuals with the unique backgrounds and skills needed to meet the challenges faced by our clients. Our clients might meet some members of our team face to face or over the phone. Others our clients might never speak to at all. But all play an important role in helping them to achieve impact. This blog series profiles members of the Remote-Learner team to give readers a glimpse into who we are and how they help our clients to succeed. Today we’ll introduce you to Geoff Horsfall, Remote-Learner’s Senior Product Manager.
Name: Geoff Horsfall
Position: Senior Product Manager
Home: Denver, Colorado
Brief: Geoff, a community-minded father of two young girls, is Remote Learner’s Senior Product Manager. In this role, he communicates the needs of our clients and prospective clients to our development team, determines development specifications and timelines to address those needs, and then communicates completed development efforts back to clients through a range of marketing strategies.
Q: Why don’t we start by talking a little bit about yourself. What are your interests?
A: I’m really involved in community building. I’m on the board of a registered neighborhood organization that serves as a liaison between the city of Denver and our neighborhood. I’m a community representative on the City and County of Denver’s Head Start advisory council. Head Start is an organization that helps low-income families enroll in early education programs. And, I’m involved in a multi-modal project that involves widening a road and adding mass transit options to improve traffic flow.
I also really like to write short stories. I started doing it in grad school. I had an elective credit in my last semester of business school that I could do whatever I wanted with so I took a creative writing class and really enjoyed it.
Q: Tell us a little about your background, Geoff.
A: I’ve spent my entire career working in education. I started in K12 publishing. We developed curricula and programs for literacy and math, primarily for elementary school students at risk for school failure. After getting my master’s degree, I started my own business. It was also education, but it was much more focused on the adult learner. We developed self-paced online courses for certification test preparation and continuing education prep hours; those things you need to demonstrate competency or mastery in order to advance. The mission of the company was to create opportunities for upward mobility through career advancement.
Q: What brought you to Remote-Learner?
A: The opportunity to work in for a technology-based learning company was the initial draw. And I liked that the company had a more client-based mentality that allowed for interesting custom projects and solution building.
Q: How did your background prepare you for your role here?
A: Just having the vocabulary helps. It’s much easier to get started when you speak the language and understand the pain points that clients are experiencing and the pressure they are under. I also have an enthusiasm for the subject matter that helps in any job. I actually grew up in it. My father was in educational publishing. I was around these nationally renowned experts during parties at my house as a kid. They were educators at heart, though, so they naturally took an interest in me which was exciting as a kid. I think I benefited tremendously from that experience.
Q: How do you keep up-to-date with trends in e-Learning technology and needs?
A: The number one place I go to is the e-Literate guys. They do a fantastic job of identifying trends in the industry. Other than that, given that our solutions are powered by Moodle and Totara, I always like to keep up to date on the Moodle and Totara newsletter and blogs.
We’re a strategic partner of the Online Learning Consortium and they are doing tremendous reporting on the industry, everything from podcasts to white papers to blog entries to the conferences they hold twice a year. Those outfits are all really good resources.
Q: What are the largest current trends impacting our clients?
A: As the e-Learning industry has evolved, the idea of a tool being a kind of one-stop shop has gone by the wayside. You have your learning management system of course, but you also have your student information systems, your customer relationship management systems and so on. The industry is increasingly fragmented into very specific problem solving solutions. For example, there are platforms just for helping academic advisers with retention.
All of these things are incredibly valuable, but their value is diminished when they aren’t integrated. You can’t possibly stay on top of all them or manage them to their maximum effectiveness.
The other thing that is undeniably happening in online learning and has been for some time, is the need to address user expectations on when and how and where they’re able to consume content. This is like the “Netflixing” of learning, getting directly to the content you want at the time you want it, being able to access it on your phone in an online or offline setting, being able to communicate with your instructors or classmates in a very nimble fashion. It’s an approach that we’ve adopted throughout the organization; most directly in Learning Spaces, our client information portal.
Thanks for chatting with us today, Geoff!