Headshot of Tanner Higgin

I’m an impact-driven researcher and content strategist.

For over a decade, I’ve led high-performing, data-driven teams at learning and technology organizations.

Together, we’ve launched and scaled websites and programs that have helped millions of people, shaped industries, earned major awards, and received national press.

Reach me at tanner.higgin@gmail.com.

My Approach

As a creator, my aim is making inviting, delightful, and crisp content that’s backed by deep user research, smart content strategy, and efficient editorial operations. I also emphasize long-term planning, especially when it comes to maintaining and archiving content and programs..

As a manager, I support ethical transparency, bold thinking, and distributed ownership. In both roles I take a philosophical and future-focused approach to work. Teams I lead regularly explore the socio-cultural contexts that drive user needs and thus shape our projects.

Recent Experience

I’m currently a senior researcher focused on the future of educational technology at WestEd.

Previously, I spent ten years leading Common Sense Media’s editorial program for teachers. During my tenure, I helped to build and grow three separate sites from scratch. My primary focus was the industry-leading learning ratings and reviews program. I also oversaw content design and editorial operations for Wide Open School and helped to refine the content strategy for the weekly newsletter, articles, and a variety of lessons and curricular content. By the time I left, we’d achieved satisfaction rates of 80% across the board, reached tens of millions of teachers, changed how edtech is created, selected, and used in schools, and earned over $20 million in funding.

Prior to Common Sense, I was part of a small, collaborative team at GameDesk that created several digital games, a play-based school and curriculum, and a website called Educade that shared our curriculum. This team won a Fast Company award for educational innovation and created first-of-their-kind learning experiences like an alternate reality game for middle schoolers. I was a core member of the curriculum team and led the research, content curation, content design, and UX writing for Educade. Along with the CEO and Managing Director, I helped to conceptualize and write the grants that tripled organizational capacity, including AT&T’s largest grant for an educational effort.

Past Experience

I’m also a recognized scholar in games and cultural studies and earned a PhD at the University of California, Riverside. My dissertation, Gamic Race: Logics of Difference in Videogame Culture, was the first book length theoretical exploration of race in videogames. This work was supported by competitive fellowships and scholarships including the prestigious University of California Humanities Research Institute. I’m fortunate that this work continues to be cited and taught in classrooms worldwide. Alongside my seven years of research, I taught writing and media studies at colleges around the Inland Empire, chaired the annual CINtax film festival, and was a founding member of the #TransformDH collective, an influential effort to make the digital humanities more diverse, equitable, and inclusive.

Prior to graduate school, I was a Technical Writer-Editor for the US Army Tank-automotive and Armaments Command (TACOM) working on the M1 Abrams, one of the highest-priority weapon systems in the army. My work involved technical writing and publications management, logistics, contract management, and quality assurance. During my time there, we completed a major conversion of all technical documentation to XML. At the end of service, I was awarded a rare commendation coin by the Director of Heavy Combat for exemplary work.

My professional life began in web development and publishing. During high school and college, I designed and developed websites for clients and personal projects for a small company in metro Detroit and did web development and editorial work for Fourth Genre, a notable journal of creative nonfiction. With these skills, I then co-created a print literary journal that also had a website and podcast. For this project, I oversaw the creative direction, graphic design, layouts, and audio production alongside the web design and development.