The Brandeis GPS blog

Insights on online learning, tips for finding balance, and news and updates from Brandeis GPS

My Experience at UXPA Boston 2021

Contributed by: Lauren Haynes 

Through the Brandeis Graduate Professional Program (GPS), I had the opportunity to attend UXPA Boston 2021UXPA Boston is an annual full-day conference that brings together UX professionals from varying experiences and industries. During the conference, attendees can participate in a series of presentations, lunchtime table topics, mentoring, raffles, and “speed” networking. 

The week before the conference:

A few days before the conference, I was granted access to Hopin—the virtual event platform. Through Hopin, I was able to personalize my profile and plan my conference itinerary. In addition, I was able to read the bios of the event speakers and see other professionals attending the event. 

Day of the conference:

The day started with a welcoming address delivered by the UXPA Boston President, Bob Thomas. Following the address, the conference continued with presentations delivered by seasoned industry professionals. The presentations spanned topics including career development, strategy, design, user research, strategy, and UX in society. Several 45-minute presentations were scheduled concurrently, so attendees had the option to choose between sessions or bounce in between.

I planned out my day accordingly and chose sessions that were of interest to me. (There were so many great sessions to choose from, it was hard to decide). I ultimately attended the following presentations:

  • Design for Users Everywhere – How to Craft a Meaningful International UX
  • Stakeholder Relationships: Leading UX researching to greater success and impact
  • Give me the Quick Version! Using one-pages to communicate research findings far and wide
  • The Indispensable Principles of Designing Complex Interfaces 
  • Build for Action, not Distraction: Five practical steps you can take to build successful UI
  • Over-complicated? Over-simplified? The UX Efficient Frontier
  • Designing Meaningful Visualizations: A case study in connecting users to their data 

During lunch time, there were also “table talks” where you can discuss hot topics moving the industry. I participated in the Design for Behavior Change group where we discussed how to avoid dark UX/UI patterns. 

I had a great experience at UXPA Boston 2021 and would love the opportunity to attend again. There was content appealing to all experience levels—whether you’re looking to transition into the field to seasoned vets. The presentations were relevant and informative, and I most certainly obtained takeaways that I can apply to my current role.

Learning Experience Design

Learning experience design is the new frontier in instructional design. Designers take a holistic and learner-centered approach to designing educational experiences, one that considers learning outcomes, motivation and learning environment efficacy. 

The MS in Learning Experience Design at GPS provides students with a hands-on experience utilizing the User-Experience (UX), User Interface (UI) and Instructional Design (ID) principles and techniques needed to advance in the field. Upon degree completion, students are equipped to:

  • Design and curate learning resources that enhance learner retention and application while aligning to principles of universal design for learning and accessibility standards.
  • Create and deliver high-quality programs and interactive learning experiences in a variety of industry and educational settings.
  • Use data analytics, learner and contextual analysis and interface design assessment to evaluate learning experience and resolve educational challenges.

When we asked Dharini Parthasarathy, an MS in Learning Experience Design student, about the program, she said,

“Brandeis GPS aligned perfectly with my needs and goals. In addition, the Brandeis GPS Learning Experience Design program connects directly to my current work and future professional goals.

I’ve been able to take many courses with the same set of students, developing a sense of community. My advisor has been an amazing resource and support, working with my idea of an academic plan. The professors and courses have been extraordinary, with plenty of application- and project-oriented experiences.”

The GPS community extends beyond our online classrooms. Students have the opportunity to expand their professional circles and build meaningful connections with our faculty, program chairs, and advisory board members. In addition, our programs are designed to help students balance a graduate education with a full-time job and other professional, academic, or personal commitments.

For more information about the Learning Experience Design program or other online master’s degrees available at GPS, please visit brandeis.edu/gps.

Accelerating Entrepreneurship with Digital Innovation for FinTech

Congratulations to 2019 Digital Innovation for FinTech graduate, Sharon Craggs, for her achievements in the field! 

Sharon’s capstone project has led to the implementation of facial recognition for accounts at Abu Dabi Islamic Bank (ADIB). ADIB is now the first UAE bank to utilize facial recognition for identity

The FinTech capstone course, where Sharon’s idea about facial recognition took form, allows students to identify a problem in the FinTech field and then articulate and execute a solution. These interactive seminar-style classes enhance the student experience, and give FinTech professionals an opportunity to advance their careers in one of the most promising industries in today’s job market. We are proud of how Sharon applied her cumulative knowledge and consequently made a significant contribution toward change and innovation. 

We look forward to her future ventures, as well as celebrating the achievements of all Brandeis GPS students! 

Like Sharon, you can play a role in the FinTech revolution. Whether it’s at a leading firm, upskilling at your current organization, or at the helm of your own company, the MS in Digital Innovation for FinTech from Brandeis GPS helps you achieve these goals and become a catalyst of progress.

Learn more about the Master of Science in Digital Innovation for FinTech program today

Defining My Career Goals with Brandeis GPS

Contributed by: Rachel McAllister, MS in Digital Marketing and Design Candidate (2022)

During my time as an undergraduate at Brandeis, I majored in Film, TV and Interactive Media. Through that major, I became exposed to the technical aspects of film and became interested in visual storytelling. As I looked into options for a post-grad program, I steered my search into the Brandeis GPS programs.

The Rabb school was offering seniors the option of taking two GPS courses during their senior year to accelerate their path to a potential master’s degree. Excited about this opportunity, I decided to take two courses in the MS in Digital Marketing and Design program. Digital marketing is a large part of today’s social and business climates, as it uses digital technologies for storytelling, communication and to market products and services. So, the program appealed to me as both a creator and a soon-to-be Brandeis alum.

It was then that it became clear to me that the Digital Marketing and Design Program was the best fit for my needs. Not only was I able to complete two of the required courses as an undergrad, but I also had schedule autonomy as the program is fully online. Due to the acceleration options I was offered as a Brandeis undergrad, I have the opportunity to complete the program in just three, 10-week sessions.

As a Brandeis student who went straight from undergrad to the master’s program, I advise all students who are looking to do the same or who are just interested in trying out new classes, to take advantage of this unique opportunity! My career goals to work in digital marketing for media have been more clearly defined since taking my first two GPS courses.

____

Rachel McAllister is a candidate for her Master of Science in Digital Marketing and Design (2022) and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Film, TV and Interactive Media from Brandeis (2021).

Designing, Developing and Maintaining Software Systems

Software engineers enjoy profound flexibility in the global job market. There are ample opportunities in banking, health care, insurance, defense, finance, education and countless other industries that use computing technology in its endeavors. As companies experience the rapid expansion of technology and the impact on all aspects of their businesses, software engineers with a unique set of technology skills are in high demand.

The Master of Software Engineering at Brandeis GPS is designed to help professionals in robotics build advanced skills in various robotic software engineering technologies and develop hands-on experience with the technology stack. Upon degree completion, students are equipped to:

  • Apply software engineering best practices to design, develop, operate and maintain software systems.
  • Build software solutions using different technologies, architects and life-cycle approaches in the context of different organizational structures, with demonstrated programming expertise in Java.
  • Collaborate and communicate with team members and other stakeholders to achieve software development project goals.

When we asked Joshua, a Master of Software Engineering Graduate, about the program, this is what he said,

“Many of the courses in the program provided me with incredible skills that would have been difficult to learn on my own. I was able to learn multiple different programming languages and apply them through required projects and assignments. In doing so, I feel I have improved my marketability and my value to my company and provided me with opportunities going forward in my life.”

The GPS community extends beyond our online classrooms. Students have the opportunity to expand their professional circles and build meaningful connections with our faculty, program chairs, and advisory board members. In addition, our programs are designed to help students balance a graduate education with a full-time job and other professional, academic, or personal commitments.

For more information on the Software Engineering program or other online master’s degrees available at GPS, please visit brandeis.edu/gps.

Leveraging Community Expertise to Address Today’s Pressing Topics

By: Andie D'Agostino, Assistant Director of Partnership Engagement

The Rabb School of Continuing Studies recently hosted a professional development webinar series addressing some of today’s pressing topics – from women in leadership to developing a workplace culture in this “new normal” to the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace.

This three-part series featured members of Brandeis – Graduate Professional Studies’ program advisory boards. These individuals offer strategic guidance and expertise on the latest advances and demands in their respective industries. 

“At the Rabb School, we are continuously striving to support our mission and provide innovative educational opportunities to students. The Brandeis corporate team has been collaborating with members of our community and finding new ways of engaging the broader community outside of our traditional course offerings. We are thrilled to have hosted this webinar series and really leverage the expertise of members of our programs’ advisory boards. The success of this professional development opportunity will no doubt lead to similar events in the future!” – Kathryn Wight, Director of Partnership Engagement at Brandeis 

The full breakdown of each webinar is as follows:

Leading and Managing Diverse Teams

Today’s workforces are diverse, and leading them effectively requires leaders to be skillful in their approach. This interactive presentation focused on three key areas of impact for leaders: personal filters and how this impacts perceptions; unconscious bias and the role it plays in leading teams; and finally, how neuroscience is showing the key role that dignity plays in creating engaged teams. 

Led by: Kari Heistad, CEO of Culture Coach International 

Link to recording here

Women in Leadership and the Evolving Workplace

Women now make up the majority of the workforce in the United States, and yet, they continue to face challenges in the workplace. Unfortunately, gender inequality is still a huge problem in the workplace today, and the divide grows wider towards the top. This panel of women in senior leadership positions in their respective industries covered topics including the impact of unconscious bias in the workplace, the importance of representation in leadership positions, and how to include men as allies in the conversation. 

Panelists included:

  • Chris O’Connor, Divisional Information Technology Management at MIT Lincoln Laboratory 
  • Christine Loredo, President and COO at TiFiPay 
  • Diane Menasco, Director of Nursing Informatics at MGB Salem Hospital 
  • Subhadra Mahanti, Software Engineering Manager at Medtronic 

Link to recording here 

Managing and Navigating the New Workplace Culture 

Workplace culture is not only a business imperative; it’s also critical to future success. A big part of the workplace experience is the daily interaction with our “work family.” This personal and social aspect of work has suffered a Coronavirus blow. There’s no simple solution to finding future success when employee interactions are virtual, but there are ways to help. In this panel presentation, the panel talked about how their companies have responded to the pandemic, what workplace culture means in a virtual environment, and how employers can support, motivate, and develop their staff at a distance. 

Panelists included:

  • Sam Shoolman, Director of Sales at HubSpot
  • Christine Zimmerman, Product Marketing Manager at Curriculum Associates
  • Sarah Salbu Young, Talent Programs Partner at Pegasystems 
  • Michael Katz, Director of Digital Marketing at BitSight 

Link to recording here 

Leaders in Fintech are in High Demand and Highly Valued

Leaders in FinTech — a rapidly growing field that focuses on a hybrid of finance, software, analytics and the user experience — are in high demand and highly valued. More and more organizations rely on blockchain and other new technologies to streamline financial and reporting systems. For that reason, Brandeis GPS created the Master of Science in Digital Innovation for FinTech, the first FinTech master’s degree in the country. The 30-credit fully online graduate program explores how to create innovative technology solutions for the fast-paced world of financial services. The program helps professionals combine innovation and entrepreneurship to develop financial solutions that use technology in innovative ways.

As startup founders, financial services innovators and active working professionals, our faculty structure their curriculum to draw on real-world expertise and connections. Upon degree completion, students are equipped to: 

  • Design leading-edge financial solutions using emerging technologies.
  • Measure and communicate the ROI of FinTech solutions to stakeholders.
  • Apply financial theories to solve investor problems and design technology solutions.

The interactive seminar-style classes, with an average class size of 12, enhance the student experience, along with access to networking events, webinars and conference opportunities. The MS in Digital Innovation for FinTech gives FinTech professionals an opportunity to advance their careers in one of the most promising industries in today’s job market. When we asked Jake, a 2020 MS In Digital Innovation for Fintech Graduate, about the program, he said,

“The MS in Digital Innovation for FinTech has been excellent. I regularly speak to new contacts in the Fintech space and we have really amazing conversations. The materials have absolutely benefited my abilities to connect with all kinds of contacts in digital innovation spaces that perhaps in the past I would not have been able to have deep discussions with.”

The GPS community extends beyond our online classrooms. Students have the opportunity to expand their professional circles and build meaningful connections with our faculty, program chairs, and advisory board members. In addition, our programs are designed to help students balance a graduate education with a full-time job and other professional, academic, or personal commitments.

For more information on the Digital Innovation for FinTech program or other online master’s degrees available at GPS, please visit brandeis.edu/gps.

 

Brandeis GPS Student Spotlight

Student Spotlight

McKenzie Little ‘23

California

Design Automation Engineer

Program: MS in User-Centered Design

In her spare time, McKenzie enjoys hiking, camping, yoga, making coffee, and reading. 

 

Get to know McKenzie Little! 

Why did you choose Brandeis GPS?

I was really drawn to the courses listed in the program and the online flexibility for working professionals.

What inspired you to choose your field of study?

I was able to have a part-time work rotation with a UX team at my workplace and it really solidified my desire to pursue UX as a career.

How have you enjoyed your experience at Brandeis thus far? 

I start the first class in my program in a few short weeks! I am very excited to begin my studies online at Brandeis University. 

What are your hopes and aspirations for the rest of your time at Brandeis? 

I hope to learn as much as possible and make great connections with other students. 

What are your plans for after graduation?

I plan to work in the UX field.

For more information on the User-Centered Design program, visit: https://www.brandeis.edu/gps/academics/user-centered-design/index.html.

 

Why Patient Care and Health Informatics Matter Now More Than Ever

The lines between technology, computer science, communications, and healthcare are blurring as information systems within the health and medical industry continue to grow more complex. According to a case study coming out of Belgium, medical and health informatics services during and after the COVID-19 pandemic should be virtual, tailored, responsive and interactive. More and more, organizations are turning to health informatics to improve efficiency and cut costs while delivering better healthcare to individuals and populations. Organizations need leaders who can manage healthcare delivery with new information technology standards in mind. These individuals must possess a deep knowledge of regulations around medical data; the capacity to use information systems to support strategic decision making; and the ability to develop and implement efficient IT solutions to improve patient care. 

The Master of Science in Health Informatics at GPS prepares professionals to improve patient and healthcare outcomes as well as organizational performance. The fully online master’s degree provides professionals with the skills to develop, manage, and evaluate information technology systems in order to improve the quality of care. When we asked Christina, an MS in Health Informatics Graduate, about the program, this is what she said,

“The Health Informatics program was deeply helpful in providing me with an understanding of how and why the field of medical informatics emerged. It provides an excellent foundation of the field, the issues to be solved within the field, and the methodologies and existing theories on achieving better healthcare outcomes, at scale, through strategic implementation of technology.”

It’s clear that health informatics students are learning directly from faculty working in the field, staying ahead of the evolving industry. Our program prepares students to improve patient and healthcare outcomes as well as organizational performance. Upon degree completion, students are equipped to:

  • Build and implement IT data solutions for clinicians and administrators.
  • Work with data systems developers, user communities and other stakeholders to design safe and effective data governance policies that ensure the privacy and security of patient data.
  • Lead and manage projects that advance change to ensure quality processes meet industry standards and enable the development of innovative practices.

The GPS community extends beyond our online classrooms. Students have the opportunity to expand their professional circles and build meaningful connections with our faculty, program chairs, and advisory board members. In addition, our programs are designed to help students balance a graduate education with a full-time job and other professional, academic, or personal commitments.

For more information on the Health Informatics program or other online master’s degrees available at GPS, please visit brandeis.edu/gps.

Brandeis GPS Student Spotlight

Amalia Cesare ‘21

User Experience Writer at The Vanguard Group in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania

Program: MS in User-Centered Design 

In her spare time, Amalia loves to explore the many trails in her area while she trains for a half marathon with her husband. During quarantine, she picked up gardening as a hobby and she is currently starting her second batch of seedlings to plant for the summer. She also lives in an area that is heavily concentrated with breweries, so she has enjoyed trying new suds and logging them on Untappd!

Get to know Amalia Cesare! 

Why did you choose Brandeis GPS?

I chose Brandeis for several reasons. I was looking for a program that would fit into my life in a realistic way. I have two bonus kids, a full-time job, and when I started the program I had recently become a new homeowner and was planning a wedding. Life was chaotic to say the least! I wanted a program that offered top-tier education while also offering me the flexibility to meet my other obligations. I also needed a program that was fully remote because I was not in a position to relocate.

What inspired you to choose your field of study?

The short answer is that I was both inspired and frustrated by my experience in the IT field. As a technical writer, I was essentially the first user of a product. My engineers would hand over a final build and ask me to document it. This process exposed a lot of product and experiences issues that we just didn’t have the bandwidth to fix based on where my work fell in the product development life cycle. I wanted to move into User Experience and position myself at the beginning of the product life cycle because I wanted to be able to design meaningful experiences and effect positive change for the users of the products I was working on. 

How have you enjoyed your experience at Brandeis thus far? 

To say that I’ve loved my experience at Brandeis would be an understatement! Brandeis has given me so many things: a chance to learn from industry experts, the opportunity to learn through doing, the ability to network with others in the industry, and the confidence to step out of my comfort zone. At my previous employer, I was able to take on additional responsibilities as a UX Designer/Writer in addition to my role as a technical writer. Recently, I was lucky enough to be able to start a new position as a User Experience Writer with The Vanguard Group. My experience at Brandeis gave me the knowledge and confidence to nail my interviews.

What are your hopes and aspirations for the rest of your time at Brandeis? 

I’m planning to complete my program in June of 2021. I hope that, during this time, I can continue to grow my UX network and showcase the knowledge I’ve accumulated with my capstone project. I also hope to continue mentoring students that are new to the program so they can have a successful and enjoyable experience at Brandeis!

What are your plans for after graduation?

While I don’t have any specific plans for after graduation, I’m hoping to continue learning and growing in my new role as a UX Writer. In the future, I’m hoping to transition into UX Research.

What advice would you give to incoming students?

Overall, I think the best advice that I could give to incoming students is to not rush through the program if you don’t have to. I’ve taken one class a session, which felt slow to me at first, but I’m so glad that I did. It gave me the opportunity to really focus on and absorb the material I was learning and to enjoy the process of gaining new skills. I’d also echo the advice of many others and say that you should never be afraid to ask questions! I came into this program without a background in design and was worried that it would put it at a disadvantage; it didn’t. If you have a question, just ask. There are many others in your class that have the same question (trust me!) and you’re not going to look silly for asking. This is the best opportunity to further your knowledge and level the playing field!

What has been your favorite class to-date? 

My favorite class so far has been Information Architecture! It was one of the more challenging classes that I’ve taken in the program, but coming from an English background, understanding how tightly language is tied to positive and usable experiences made me feel like I had the ability to apply my existing expertise in a new field. It was also my first exposure to user research, which was both exciting and terrifying! Having to conduct tests with users took me out of my comfort zone, but it has grown into an experience that I love.

For more information on the User-Centered Design program, visit: https://www.brandeis.edu/gps/academics/user-centered-design/index.html.

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