Career Advice Successful High flyers’ story

Working on the edge of study development

Edward Dunnigan, head of content development at The Edge Learning Center, decided to give Asia a shot after the gloomy global economy got him thinking about leaving the US. A graduate of Boston College and the University of Chicago, he decided to come to Hong Kong to join The Edge. He tells Wong Yat-hei that although he only expected to stay short term, his job has helped him discover a love of helping students reach their goals.

How does a typical day go?
The mornings are typically devoted to team meetings, content development and training. Usually I meet with our sales and marketing teams to discuss which courses make the most sense to develop for the upcoming academic year. Later I will gather the opinions of our content experts to look for ways to improve our courses and from about 4pm onwards I spend all of my time with students.

What does your job involve?
The part of my job I find most interesting is designing, developing, writing and editing educational content. In addition, I train new teachers to instruct students in a way that makes learning fast, productive and fun, and that consistently engages the diverse learning styles represented in today’s dynamic classroom.

Of course, I also spend time each day teaching students, whether in one-on-one lessons or in classes, and often find myself acting in the capacity of a mentor as much as a teacher.

What is the biggest challenge?
The biggest challenge I face is helping students and their families understand and navigate Hong Kong’s complex educational landscape. With so many different local and international curricula, many of which change from year to year, it sometimes seems as difficult to understand them as it is to master the subject matter. It’s important for students and their families to understand the curricula offered as well as the various educational services available to help them succeed.

What are your future plans?
My immediate professional goal is to develop a range of courses and textbooks that will reach more students in Hong Kong and help to establish The Edge’s presence throughout Asia.

My long-term professional plan is to develop content for online adaptive learning platforms, which I believe are on the verge of transforming the educational experience of students worldwide.

What advice do you have for those interested in this area?
Become a good teacher first. If there’s one thing this industry has taught me, it’s that every responsibility I have is rooted in the classroom.

Whether I’m meeting with colleagues in the sales and marketing department, designing our next test prep product or training new recruits, my immediate goal is always to improve students’ experience in the classroom. If I hadn’t learned how to be a good teacher first, I wouldn’t be in a position to understand how to deliver an excellent product from a business perspective.