Osmosis News

Osmosis Team Spotlight: Kyle Slinn, RN, MEd, Senior Content Manager

Osmosis Team
Published on Aug 19, 2020. Updated on Sep 15, 2020.

Today’s Osmosis Teammate Spotlight introduces Kyle Slinn, RN, MEd. Kyle is a Senior Content Manager at Osmosis who has worked on numerous projects, from our videos, to our textbooks, High-Yield Notes, and more. You may even have seen him playing the patient in some of our Clinical Skills videos!

Hi Kyle! Very happy to be able to spotlight you on the blog today. Can you start by introducing yourself and talking a little bit about the path that led you to Osmosis?

Thanks, Fergus! It’s a weird path for sure. I received a Bachelors of Science in Nursing at the University of Ottawa, and started my nursing career as a pediatric intensive care nurse at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario

At the same time I started that job, I was doing my Masters of Education specializing in distance education and technology at Athabasca University. Soon after that, I got in touch with Dr. Rishi Desai, as I was doing a personal project similar to what he was trying to do at Khan Academy. Rishi asked if I wanted to volunteer and help him make medical content. 

I agreed, and after 9 months of volunteering ended up getting a job as a project manager for health care content.

Two years later, Khan Academy decided to refocus on K-12 content. Rishi went to Osmosis, and asked me to come with him. I’ve been here ever since, and Rishi and I have been coworkers for 7 years.

What advice do you have for nursing students thinking about a career outside clinical practice?

Do it! Nursing is this magical profession where you have so many opportunities outside of bedside nursing if that’s not your thing. Public health, occupational health, management within hospitals, and so on. In long term care homes, the nurse typically is more of a unit manager than doing bedside work, and working with that patient population is extremely rewarding. 

If you’re looking to get into education technology or something similar, I really recommend you build a couple of prototypes or a portfolio of work before you even begin to engage potential companies. The education technology field (or any tech company field for that matter) really likes to see personal projects that relate to the company in some way. It gives you a huge edge over people who just have nebulous ideas without anything to show for it.

What’s a typical “day in the life” at Osmosis like for you?

I usually wake up around 8 AM, read personal email and browse Reddit. Around 8:30 I begin work, usually answering emails and Slack messages. After that I usually start working on the most brain intensive work like resolving project problems, delegating tasks to contractors, reviewing scripts, etc. By then it’s lunch. 

After lunch my brain is basically functioning at 50%, so I often try to leave less brain intensive tasks until then. Recording and editing audio, editing video, editing scripts again if they don’t need too much work, participate in meetings, and so on. I clock out somewhere between 5:00 and 5:30 PM. 

I have pretty strict boundaries for work. At Khan Academy I basically worked evenings and weekends all the time. It really affected my personal life and prevented me from exploring personal projects, so when I joined Osmosis I made creating a work-life balance a priority. No regrets.

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You’ve worked on many different projects at Osmosis. Any particular highlights you’d like to share?

I think the most interesting project was the textbooks you and I started making, which eventually evolved into the High-Yield Notes project. We kinda went into the textbook project knowing nothing about making books, and by the end we were all pretty familiar with InDesign, the printing process, and had found a way to get the books around the world relatively cheaply. 

My favourite memory of that entire project was when the whole print team was on a call and spent three hours trying to figure out the different header styles to make the book easier to read, and we got particularly stuck on what bold setting to use for word definitions. I think that moment was a testament to our attention to detail and desire to create something truly great. It’s also worth saying that once we were holding those physical books in our hands after two years of work, that was a great feeling.

The Clinical Skills project has been very interesting for me too. I got to revisit my teenage roots of playing with video cameras and editing videos together, and leverage my health care background to create some pretty unique content. I really liked that work, I hope I get to do more of it in the future!

In your Meet the Team video, you chose “Reach Further” as your favorite Osmosis value. If you hadn’t chosen that one, which would you have picked?

Start With the Heart for sure. I have a very “people-first” mentality when it comes to management styles. 

As a manager, my duty above all else is to help the teammates I manage however I can. I advocate on my teammates behalf constantly, and do my best to give them every opportunity available, and to be as transparent as possible. It’s important to me that if a teammate feels uncomfortable with something, that they know they have an ally to help them. 

I think Start with the Heart reflects that personal value of mine really well.

You’re currently working on an extensive learning science series for the Osmosis blog. Can you talk a little bit about what you’re hoping to achieve with that, and why learners should read it?

Absolutely. I’ve been reading several blogs by engineering teams at various companies, where teammates talk about the unique problems they had to address when working on a project. At Osmosis, I regularly run into interesting learning science situations when working on projects that I think maybe a few keeners would like to read about. So, ultimately, I want to give a sneak peek behind the curtain of what some of us instructional designers are thinking about when we build a new content series.

You can read my first post on Elaborative Rehearsal here!

What do you think is the biggest challenge faced by current health professions students?

I think students are expected to learn way too much in a short period of time. I talk a bit about this in my article on Medscape discussing the term “high-yield”. There’s this perpetual race to teach students more information in increasingly shorter periods of time, and most learning materials are designed to just help students pass tests, not deeply learn or retain information. Students are retaining only a fraction of the knowledge they’re expected to know. And now these students are being sent to the front lines of a pandemic. 

The health care education industry holistically needs to do better with instruction. I’m hoping the work we do here at Osmosis can help change that.

Finally, can you tell our readers a fun fact about yourself?

I am an intensely curious person. As an example, a year ago I decided to digitize some old family photos that were in 35mm slide format. But I didn’t just buy any old scanner. I found the best scanner I could get my hands on (a 20 year old Nikon Coolscan 5000). But these machines are old and can fail if not cared for over time, so I learned how to disassemble and refurbish them. Once I started (and eventually finished) scanning, I thought to myself, “How do I make these images even better”. Then I got sucked into super resolution machine learning using ESRGAN and began training my own models to pull more detail out of the scans. 

Now I’m just in this spiral and I don’t know if I’ll ever escape.

Thanks for speaking with me today, Kyle!

Thank you for listening to me ramble!


Interested in working with people like Kyle and others on the Osmosis team? Check out our careers page to see our open positions. If you don’t see a posting that fits with your expertise, contact us anyway—we’re always looking to work with people who are passionate about providing the best learning experience possible!

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