Nikki Massaro Kauffman
Senior change agent
The Pennsylvania State University
College of Arts & Architecture
Do you know that part of a good story where suddenly every detail, no matter how seemingly disconnected, suddenly fits together? Where you realize that every event was leading up to a singular moment and some epic truth is revealed? For Nikki Massaro Kauffman (a.k.a. NikkiMK) that moment was joining the ELMS:LN team.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves, so let’s go back to Nikki’s origin story…
Nikki spent much of her childhood with her grandfather, a retired industrial engineer for the pattern industry. He taught her how to observe people and design processes that simplified their lives. He introduced her to the personal computer, and taught her about spreadsheets and databases. He created a workshop for her and kept her supplied with art, craft, and woodworking supplies. He shared his inventions with her. But the greatest lesson he taught her is that innovation didn’t have to start at the top of a large organization; real innovation could happen at anywhere. Innovation could be a little girl in a workshop, a teacher in a classroom, or a designer who observes people.
Nikki earned a B.S. in Secondary Education from Penn State with honors in Curriculum & Instruction from the Schreyer Honors College. As a high school teacher, she experimented with new ways to engage learners by adopting some of the features of art class to an English class, and was so successful at engaging learners across the ability spectrum that gifted and learning support teachers specifically requested her for their students.
As an adult learner teaching full time, Nikki earned a B.S. in Computer Science from Mount Aloysius College, and graduated summa cum laude. With her interest in education and technology, Nikki joined a learning design unit within Penn State. Nikki’s role changes many times within the unit, but her work always revolved around the unit’s homebrewed learning content management system (LCMS). Because she was skilled in communicating ideas visually, she became a multimedia specialist. A programmer at heart, she realized she could scale the production of rich interactive multimedia by being a programmer and building a suite of tools directly into the authoring environment of the LCMS. And as a member of the user experience team, she began to design her work around the needs of a diverse set of users: students, instructors, content authors, all of varying ability or disability.
After almost 20 years in education and technology, Nikki finally knew what she wanted to be when she grew up: she wanted to have a hand in building a platform that allowed students, instructors, and content authors to create rich interactive content that was fully accessible. It’s as if the entire narrative of her life had been designed to join ELMS:LN.