This story is a part of our “A Day in the Life'' series that highlights the career journeys of 2U employees across the world. This article celebrates one of our 2020 No Back Row Award winners—an employee recognized for embracing one of 2U’s nine Guiding Principles. Chantell Swart was one of two 2Utes selected as the winners of the Don’t Let the Skeptic Win award.
As a child growing up in Cape Town, Chantell Swart was always fascinated by animated films like Disney/Pixar’s A Bug's Life and Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas. From a young age, she knew that motion graphics was the career she wanted to follow.
In 2016, Chantell graduated from South Africa’s Pearson Institute of Higher Education with a BA in Multimedia and soon after was hired at GetSmarter, a brand of 2U, Inc. Since then, she has been able to apply her passion for storytelling and animation to solving complex design problems in the Creative Studios department.
Chantell also continues to build her knowledge and skills by taking a variety of online short courses powered by GetSmarter/2U. So far, she’s completed Social Media Strategy through the MIT Sloan School of Management, Negotiation Strategies through the Yale School of Management Executive Education, Project Management Foundations through the University of Cape Town, and Women in Leadership through the University of Stellenbosch Business School.
“I’ve always been a bookworm and have loved learning new things, so it’s fantastic to have the opportunity to take these short courses through work,” she says. “To me, lifelong learning is an opportunity to enhance our understanding of the world around us. It provides us with more opportunities and better opportunities and thus improves our quality of life.”
Read on to learn more about Chantell’s process for creating motion graphics for short courses, why 3D animation is her passion, and what “Don’t let the skeptic win” means to her.
One of Chantell's many design hobbies outside of work is dabbling in ink illustration
Why did you join 2U? What is it about the company that sparked your interest?
I was drawn to the company’s values, culture, and the diversity of people. When I first walked through the GetSmarter/2U doors, I was amazed at how genuinely happy everyone was. There was an air of enthusiasm and passion for what everyone did, and everyone was so friendly.
I started when our Creative Studios department was much smaller and I was one of three motion designers in the department— now there are 15! That feels like a lifetime ago now, and I have learned and grown so much both in my career and as an individual. To me, the best part is that we have been able to maintain the same enthusiasm, passion, and joy as the company has grown over the past few years.
Chantell (left) with some of her fellow motion designers
How would you describe your role at GetSmarter/2U as a mid-motion graphic designer?
Using software such as Adobe After Effects and Cinema 4D, I create animations that accompany the videos in our courses. Our creative process starts with the Learning Design Plan—this is where we get an overview of what the courses will entail and the chance to identify areas that may require some sort of “visual add.” This can vary from animations to interactive graphics to notes graphics to simple bullets.
We then go into a graphics briefing process with the video producer, learning designer, and graphics designer. This is where all the creativity really starts to flow and is one of my favourite parts of the process! Once we’ve worked our way through the video and have identified the graphics that are required, the graphics designer and motion designer will create a storyboard, after which the graphics designer will create the graphics in Adobe Illustrator and then pass them on to us. We then import the graphics into After Effects, where we will do our animation magic. Animations are then reviewed by our leads. Once approved, they’re sent to the video producer who places the graphics in the video.
In her spare time, Chantell loves to ride horses
What do you find most rewarding and challenging about your job?
One of the most challenging, yet very rewarding, aspects of my job is figuring out some pretty complex ideas and then creating visuals to accompany them. I also love the problem-solving element of my job.
Out of everything you’ve done at 2U so far, what gives you the most pride?
I’m probably most proud of taking our motion graphics to the next level with the integration of 3D—it’s where my passion truly lies. There is incredible pedagogical value of 3D animation for video in the field of online learning, and it can add direct value to the student learning experience.
When students watch engaging animation, it helps give visual context to the concepts and lessons they’re learning, making them more likely to recall what they’ve learned. 3D animation helps with this by recreating objects and spaces that exist in the real world, but in virtual environments. When learners have a visual to identify with—instead of static content or imagery—they’re more likely to connect with, trust, and retain the information.
Chantell's happy place is being out in nature; here she is hiking with one of her dogs, Lyla
Each of 2U’s 2020 No Back Row Award winners were recognized for their commitment to one of the company’s nine Guiding Principles. What does this honor mean to you, and how would you describe the guiding principle you epitomize: Don’t Let the Skeptic Win?
“Don’t let the skeptic win” epitomize the importance of not giving up and not listening to the naysayers. I’m incredibly honored to be recognized for this award and thankful I work with such amazing people.
Learn more about us.
At 2U, we’re on a mission—to eliminate the back row in higher education and help universities thrive in the digital age. To learn more about who we are and what we do, follow the links below.