Here's a selection of highlights from my career thus far. You'll see that I'm a passionate worker that never fails to put heart into everything I do.
HerHackathon 2023 Beiersdorf Winner
This weekend I joined over 200 women from 40 nationalities at HerHackathon here in Mannheim with The Hackathon Company!
We were challenged by Beiersdorf to create an innovative consulting technology that would help women harness the power of their menstrual cycle by connecting them to menstrual literacy, skincare, and community.
My team (✨The Constellations✨ Andra Fecioru, Bianca Botezatu, Lisbet Lorenzo, and Erda Y.), designed a virtual store experience that combines data from your trusted health apps with the studies from Beiersdorf to provide personalized skincare recommendations for each stage of your cycle. In addition to a VR-friendly, intimate shopping experience, it also included a gamified education feature and a community space that would allow women to connect with experts and empower each other.
Designing this innovative solution with them was a transformational experience for me, and I'm so grateful for my team's support and collaboration, like running with my idea of putting our imaginative, virtual space escape store inside of a Nivea tin 💛
By winning the Beiersdorf challenge, we had the opportunity to present our pitch in the final round alongside incredible challengers representing other companies. It's an honor to be a finalist of #HerHackathon2023!
View the prototype and thought process here!
Introducing Quiz Mode! A New Gameplay Mode at Drops
Drops makes learning a new language easy by building your vocabulary with fun games. Those games largely are rote learning opportunities, until now!
Quiz Mode is a new gameplay type I pitched and developed to with the vision of delivering meaningful learning experiences to Drops learners. It's designed to pair the useful words and phrases you collect in your daily sessions with contextualized questions for a personalized review session. In each encounter with Quiz Mode, you'll be presented with various types of questions that test your understanding of those words and phrases. Some questions might ask you to match a phrase with the contexts you would use it, while others might ask you to use your new vocabulary to describe what’s going on in a picture, or require you to spot the odd one out of a group of terms.
I first pitched the idea last year and I not only helped develop the gameplay design and tested it with our product team, but I lead my team in creating and localizing hundreds of questions. It's a big feature that I'm so excited to launch!
You can try out Quiz Mode today and learn more about how it improves learning efficiency in my blog post: 🧡 Introducing Quiz Mode: A Fun Way to Review Your Vocabulary in Drops
Testimonial Research from Drops Learners
As Head of Learning Content, my day-to-day is filled with product collaboration and managing larger projects, but also tons of user research. I use data and research at the base of all our team decisions.
Earlier this year I focused on some qualitative feedback as we expanded our Ukrainian UI and added two more language courses. I collected some of the heartwarming examples on our blog:
Preserving the Irish Language with Drops 🇮🇪
On March 1st we released the Irish language course! This language was highly requested by our learners, many of whom are interested in preserving and revitalizing endangered languages.
Only about 1.2 million people know the Irish language worldwide, but in a recent census, only 78,000 native speakers said they speak the language daily. It's crucial that we work to preserve this language and celebrate its unique cultural identity.
Our Irish language course is designed to help you learn the language in an engaging, fun, and interactive way. Focused on vocabulary-based lessons, learners will quickly gain confidence in understanding and speaking Irish. Plus, with our culturally specific topics like “Gaelic Games” and “Irish Traditional Music,” learners can truly immerse themselves in some of the richness of the Irish culture. Here's a blog post I wrote for the launch.
Say Bun venit! to our newest language at Drops: Romanian 🇷🇴
We have a few new language courses coming out in the coming months, the first of which is Romanian! Romanian is our 48th language and 5th Romance language in Drops, so now you can learn it alongside Spanish (Central American and European), Italian, Portuguese (Brazilian and European), and French! Here's a blog post I wrote to celebrate the launch: 5 Reasons to Learn Romanian.
One part of the vision behind creating the course was our continued support of Ukrainian refugees. In the last year, over 98,000 Ukrainians have fled to Romania. I hope this course will not only help refugees but also help Romanians access the Ukrainian course as well.
And on a personal note, I'm excited to learn some Romanian to surprise my wife's Oma!
K! Gathering in Oslo
This October, I traveled to Oslo to meet over 300 of my colleagues across the Kahoot! universe! Not only did I have a blast shaking hands with new collaborators and getting to hug (!) some folks I've worked with remotely on pedagogy and pride initiatives, I also had the pleasure of facilitating a product expo session. I'm still feeling inspired by the great conversations there and reminded of how incredible it is to work with my team at Drops Language Learning to make learning awesome. Between Drops and Kahoot!, it's been purple overload 💜
Dropsite Tuscany 2022
This last offsite we traveled to Tuscany. My team works completely remotely, so Dropsites are invaluable for in-person team building and brainstorming and also for getting to know more about the cultures of the languages we teach. Above is a snapshot of me leading a discussion as we define our content strategy.
Drops Pride: LGBTQ+ Vocabulary in 38 Languages
Language Drops is the first language app to have vocabulary lessons specifically for and about LGBTQ+ people and their experiences. I conceptualized and lead this project with the support of my fantastic team and collaboration with our parent company, Kahoot!. So proud to work with a team that put our values and actions at the forefront, and can't wait to see what we continue to do beyond pride month!
"There is nothing more powerful than having the words to confidently describe who you are!"
Read about the project in my blog post: Why We Didn't Change Our Logo for Pride Month 🏳️🌈
Lesbians Who Tech Conference 2022
When Russia invaded Ukraine, we at Drops Language Learning made a plan—not based on metrics or AB tests—but on what was the right thing to do. Operated by a compact international team, we implemented a program to offer free language courses to Ukrainian refugees to help them feel more at ease with their new surroundings. A month and a half later, we launched a new Ukrainian language course in the app to benefit those who are welcoming refugees.
The way we use technology has potential to impact the lives of millions. I had the pleasure to speak about this project at the Lesbians Who Tech & Allies :: Queer. Inclusive. Badass. conference! I covered how we built our refugee program and new Ukrainian language course, and broke down the key lessons we learned along the way.
The recording for the whole talk can be found here! https://lnkd.in/ggnHE8BM
Celebrating 1 Year at Drops!
This June, I'll have been at Drops Language Learning for one year! 🎉 I've overseen the addition of almost 100 new topics, our new Ukrainian course 🇺🇦, and our first pride collection 🏳️🌈—and those are just the highlights!
This role has allowed me to grow and mature several skills. That includes one of the sillier projects I've worked on—a TikTok on the intersection of Midwestern English and German: I'm now a language influencer.
Meet Professor Roden
Way back in 2012, I studied abroad with Emerson College's Kasteel Well program—which meant the life-changing opportunity to travel Europe while studying and living in a 14th-century castle in the Netherlands.
In 2021 I was invited to return to the castle (and it's two moats) as a professor, teaching travel writing to aspiring writers and editors. I juggled two days a week at the castle on top of my full-time role at Drops, but after moving closer to family in 2021—the distance was too far to continue. However, I'm sure this wasn't the last time I'll be around Kasteel Well.
Not only was this experience rewarding intellectually, but it was also personally impactful to create an inclusive and queer-friendly space for my students.
Ukrainian Language Launch
So proud to say "Привіт!" to our newest language in Drops! 🇺🇦 Our Ukrainian course was created with the helpers in mind—those welcoming and supporting refugees and those wanting to help preserve Ukraine's beautiful language and culture. We produced this course in record time to get it into the hands of volunteers and extended our refugee program offering free language content to Ukrainian Refugees.
Meanwhile... Gastropub Logo Design for New Berlin
I wanted to share a side project I've been working on. I met my wife when she was a German exchange student at my Ohio high school. Her host family from that time have become our close family as well, and this year they're opening a gastropub and brewery serving modern German street food: New Berlin Brewing Co.
New Berlin is the former name of my hometown (before it was changed during WWI), so this is a reclaiming of German heritage and culture. In creating the logo, I played around with the idea of the Berlin bear—the mascot of Berlin since the 13th century. The polished result features hops details in the beard and can be found on... well... everything at the restaurant today.
Hello 2022! (From Dropsite Malaga)
The last six months of working at Drops Language Learning has flown by! We just wrapped an intense offsite in Malaga, Spain—where we got a taste of in-person work in a pandemic with masks and distancing, but lots of productivity.
I'm feeling fantastic about 2022 because I am now the ✨ Head of Learning Content ✨ at Drops Language Learning! So excited to continue creating impactful language lessons for our learners around the world.
My First Language Learning Topics Released at Drops
When I started at Drops Language Learning, I was eager to include all constellations of families in our content. One of those moments was introducing the Adoption & Fostering topic, with terms like "I am adopted," "biological parent," and "I trust you"! 💙
A lot of these terms came from the stack of German flashcards I made while studying to talk to social workers this last year as Lisa and I consider growing our family. Not only is this vocabulary important for prospective parents, but for so many families to describe their experiences together.
I'm so excited to share it with our learners around the world! Stay tuned for future vocabulary decks on mindfulness, working remotely, and more!
Product Meet-up: Copenhagen
This year I joined Drops Language Learning as their Lead Content Manager. It's a small team (only 30 or so folks), so I get to wear a lot of hats—editorial, methodological, strategical, and more. One thing I've loved about this role is getting to work more with the product team in creating meaningful (and fun!) learning experiences. Here are some snapshots from a short meet-up with the product team in Copenhagen in November.
Highlights of My Time at National Geographic Learning
Yesterday was my last day at National Geographic Learning ELT ! Grateful for two years of building skills and beautiful learning tools with some of the best content in the field! I’m lucky to have worked remotely during that time, even before it was trendy 😉 Ready to start the next adventure at Drops!
The Online Placement Test was my last big project at NGL. Using real-world content and photography, the test places learners into one of 14 CEFR bands (Pre-A1 to C1) and provides an overview of their listening, reading, and language skills. It was a great challenge for my team and it is a wonderful product for teachers! 🎉 So excited to have seen it cross the finish line!
A Lookback at the Journal of Transcultural Studies
Throughout my MA I kept my publishing skills sharp as an Editorial Assistant at The Journal of Transcultural Studies at the Cluster of Excellence "Asia and Europe in a Global Context" in Heidelberg, Germany. As a member of the editorial team I worked on: layout, graphic design, and typesetting using InDesign and HTML; rebranding and improving designs and internal processes; copy-editing academic articles and manuscripts for publication.