In this edition of our Meet the Team series, we have a chat with Beau Bardenhagen – Pure Learning’s Creative Writer.
Hi Beau! Tell us how you got into creative writing.
I’ve always considered myself to be quite creative. Even as a kid I was creating new things and projects. From creating invitations for my friends’ birthday parties to match reports for my indoor soccer team, I was always working on something. I had weekly reports of the team’s results published in the school newsletter. I’d consider myself to be more of a creator than a writer. Words are just one of many weapons in my arsenal, I suppose.
Writing for the school newsletter must have been a big deal at that age?
It depends on what way you look at it. I was in grade six at the time and just really passionate about it. But on the flip side of that, the school only had about 30 kids! Not exactly a massive audience, but I loved doing it.
So you always imagined creative writing is something you would end up doing?
Not at all, to be honest. I have a major in journalism so I always thought I would work in the media industry. I also studied creative writing, more as an enjoyment thing and to enhance my writing skills. I ended up having a creative writing minor at the end of my course and at that stage I was fairly disenchanted with the media industry and the direction it was heading in. I was at a period where I was really unsure of the path I wanted to take. The grades I was receiving for my creative writing work were always the highest of any class I took, but I never really considered it to be a viable career path.
Why not? What changed?
There are only a handful of authors that can make a life out of writing their own novels in Australia. I never completed, let alone started, any long term writing projects and some of my class mates had already completed some of their own. I felt like I was out of my depth a little bit, but my results continually suggested otherwise. I was under the impression that there were really only extremely limited numbers of employment opportunities and I never wanted to write the next Harry Potter or anything like that. But I found the skills I had developed could be completely transferable to various roles.
How do those apply to your work at Pure Learning?
Firstly, I’m really lucky that I work with such a great team. They are such a creative bunch and always have a lot of ideas. The environment of the office is fantastic and that really allows fantastic ideas to develop. We have the licence to not just push boundaries, but smash them completely. I’m really fortunate to work in an environment that allows this kind of thing. In terms of specific skills… Almost all of them can be applied here and it blows my mind to see that. Our enthusiasm isn’t quashed, it’s the complete opposite. From writing scripts for short films, to blogs, to instructional design… I really have a mixed bag of projects to work on and there are so many different ways we can go about tackling them head on.
What are your experiences with eLearning?
I’ve had to complete a stack of ‘eLearning’ courses for some part-time work I had during university. It sucked. It really did. On top of university work and my part-time job, I really struggled to find the motivation to sit down for hours at a time and go through slide after slide after slide. The temptation for me to click ‘next’ repetitively to get to the multiple choice questions at the conclusion was massive. My eLearning quickly turned into eCompletion. I know a few of my colleagues went down this path and you can’t blame them. So initially I was very sceptic but Matt really sold me on the idea. He was the first to concede that 99% of the eLearning out there was an utter shambles. His vision for the future of eLearning was really exciting because this kind of thing will have an impact on the everyday life of ordinary people. People I have worked with, grown up with, associate with.
So that sounds like something you love about Pure Learning?
Absolutely. It was probably the key factor that really sold me the idea; helping people. Some jobs are difficult enough without ultimately ineffective training courses that only have the function of ensuring there is a green tick next to your name. People need to learn and adapt and evolve and this process shouldn’t be another chore. It should be enjoyable and something people embrace! I believe we are improving so many working lives. To be able to make that difference is really humbling.