The Brandeis GPS blog

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

“What’s an instructional designer?”

By Lance Eaton

That’s always the first question I get when I tell people that I am an instructional designer (an ID for those of us “in the know”).

It all started when I was 6 years old, and my dad asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I peered up into his face and said with an earnest seriousness that no child should muster, “I want to be an instructional designer.”

Ok, that’s a lie. In my career as an instructional designer, I’ve never met anyone who wanted to become one when they grew up. In fact, many of them, like me, stumbled onto this career and realized they’d come into their calling — and that people would pay them to do something they rather enjoy!

Probably a year before I became an ID, I couldn’t tell you what an ID was. “Ummm…they design instruction?” In 2011, I was teaching full-time as a part-time instructor (or as I called it, the adjunct shuffle), patching together 6-8 courses a semester at six different institutions. Technology was my saving grace in that it helped me implement different and interesting projects without completely losing my mind (or my students’ papers). As a result of some of that work, I was soon asked to present on how I was using blogs, social media and other technology to enhance learning. When an ID position opened up at North Shore Community College, I was encouraged to apply given my skill set both with teaching and learning with technology, but also for my ability to effectively explain this work to colleagues. The rest is, as they say, history (ok, there’s a few more pieces to it, but this is the abbreviated blog-version!).

Helping instructors think about technology and pedagogy is the essence of instructional design. Eventually, I developed a succinct answer to the question above: “I work with instructors to develop online and hybrid courses or utilize other technology in pedagogically sound ways that maximizes learning and minimizes frustration for learners and instructors as much as possible.”

But even that description often needs further explanation. In comparison to the physical classroom, online instructors and students are thousands of hours behind when it comes to experience. Instructors have vast quantities of implicit knowledge about what works and doesn’t work in the physical classroom as a result of their own education, their teaching experience, and disciplinary expertise. However, that implicit knowledge needs to be made explicit in the online environment so that both instructor and student can succeed. This is where IDs come in; helping instructors figure out exactly how they can be effective in this new learning environment. It’s a rewarding opportunity — I get to meet different instructors with unique approaches to teaching and learning that I am then able to share with other instructors for consideration as they make their journeys into the online learning experience.

So with that, I’d like to say that I’m really excited to land at Brandeis GPS with some amazing colleagues and fantastic instructors. I look forward to learning and growing, which, as quintessential life-long learners, is something ID folk love to do.

Lance Eaton is an instructional designer at Brandeis University Graduate Professional Studies. His previous work includes working at North Community College and Regis College as instructional designer. He is currently working on his PhD in Higher Education from University of Massachusetts, Boston.

Take advantage of your benefits

Brandeis alumni

It was so good to see Brandeis University alumni at #DeisReunion17 last weekend! In case you missed us at the festivities on campus, we want to make sure you know about the Brandeis alumni tuition discount on all Graduate Professional Studies courses and programs.

Fall 2017 Term and Spring 2018 Term dates and sessions

Whether you’re looking to obtain a master’s degree or supplement your resume and develop new skills with professional courses, continue your Brandeis experience with our part-time, fully online curricula.

View our Fall 1 and Fall 2 course schedules, or click the links below to learn more about our graduate programs:

Additional Benefits:

As a GPS student, you’ll enjoy:

Interested in learning more about Brandeis GPS? Check out our website or contact our enrollment team at gps@brandeis.edu or 781-736-8787.

Take advantage of your degree

It’s been a few weeks since the GPS class of 2017 commencement ceremony. Congratulations once again to those who received their degree!

We’re checking in to remind all GPS alumni – past and recent – about your tuition discount and an important change to our academic calendar. Starting in fall 2017, GPS will be moving away from three ten-week terms to two terms per year. However, each term will contain two 10-week sessions. So instead of three 10-week sessions, students are able to enroll in four ten-week sessions per year (fall 1, fall 2, spring 1, and spring 2). 

Fall 2017 Term and Spring 2018 Term dates and sessions

Achieve academic success

The four-session calendar provides the following benefits:

  • An easier path to qualify for federal aid
  • Students using federal aid can take one class at a time instead of two, increasing the opportunity for academic success.
  • Faster time for degree completion — 2.5 years instead of 3.3 years (with even more expedited options available).
  • Two-week break between sessions and a four-week break between terms

In addition to our calendar change, you may have noticed some program additions to our catalog. Last fall, we launched the MS in Digital Innovation for FinTech, and the previous year we introduced two new programs: the MS in Digital Marketing and Design, and the MS in User-Centered Design.

Take courses for professional development

As a GPS alumni, you will enjoy 15 percent discount on tuition for any future courses you’d like to take, whether you intend to pursue another full master’s degree from GPS or solely take courses for professional development.

If you’re interested in receiving a second degree, click here to learn more about our sequential degree policy.

To learn more about taking additional courses, view our Fall 2017 course schedule and contact our enrollment team at gps@brandeis.edu or 781-736-8787.

 

SPOTLIGHT ON JOBS: Celgene

Members of the Brandeis GPS Community may submit job postings from within their industries to advertise exclusively to our community. This is a great way to further connect and seek out opportunities as they come up. If you are interested in posting an opportunity, please complete the following form found here.

Where: Cambridge, MA

About: Celgene is a global biopharmaceutical company leading the way in medical innovation to help patients live longer, better lives. Our purpose as a company is to discover and develop therapies that will change the course of human health.  We value our passion for patients, quest for innovation, spirit of independence and love of challenge. With a presence in more than 70 countries – and growing – we look for talented people to grow our business, advance our science and contribute to our unique culture.

Position: Postdoctoral Fellow Computational Biology

Position Details: We are actively recruiting a talented candidate to develop and apply computational approaches to large human omics datasets in a highly collaborative pharmaceutical environment.

Responsibilities:

We seek a talented, collaborative interdisciplinary scientist to catalyze the development and application of computational approaches for translating genetic associations to mechanistic understandings. The successful candidate will develop and apply computational strategies to extract mechanistic insights from large proprietary genetic-centric and omics rich human datasets. In particular, this role is expected to elucidate context-specific and genetic-inspired mechanisms in autoimmune and/or neurodegeneration diseases by:

  • Developing QTL analyses and network-centric approaches for carrying forward genetic variations into mechanistic insights;
  • Pioneering deep-learning algorithms for biomedical research;
  • Deriving novel insights using longitudinal progression-based patient records.

The position offers an exciting opportunity to leverage access to proprietary resources and broad team expertise within the industry setting.Expertise in genetics and omics datasets are

Expertise in genetics and omics datasets are prerequisite. Experiences in algorithm development are highly desired.

Requirements:

  •  Expertise in GWAS and QTL analyses.
  •  Experience with relevant programming/scripting tools (e.g. R, MATLAB, Python, C/C++).
  •  Experience with public datasets GTEx, ENCODE, ADNI a plus.
  •  Experience with deep learning a plus.
  •  Knowledge and/or interests in autoimmune and/or neurodegeneration indications a bonus.
  •  A track record demonstrating scientific creativity, collaboration, and independence.
  •  Excellent written and oral communication skills.

Qualifications:

  • PhD in computational biology, bioinformatics, computer science, or related disciplines

Apply:

  • Interested applicants should apply through the Celgene website. Link to the job page here.
  • See more career opportunities at Celgene here.
  • Please make sure to reference seeing this position through the GPS Spotlight on Jobs post.

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SPOTLIGHT ON JOBS: REsurety

Members of the Brandeis GPS Community may submit job postings from within their industries to advertise exclusively to our community. This is a great way to further connect and seek out opportunities as they come up. If you are interested in posting an opportunity, please complete the following form found here.

Where: REsurety, Boston, MA with a flexible Q2 start date

About: REsurety is a venture-backed FinTech startup that is eliminating the challenge of resource intermittency for the wind power industry. We are revenue-positive, have active customers, and work in partnership with some of the world’s leading risk market players. Our team keeps an informal office with open lines of communication, little hierarchy, and a rapid pace. If putting your skills to work to drive down the cost of renewable energy by solving the challenge of resource intermittency sounds exciting, then we would love to receive your application.

Position: Power Market Research Scientist

Position Details: As a Power Market Research Scientist, you will research and model future market structures, including how the buildout of renewable energy generation affects power prices.

Responsibilities:

  • Lead research into the effects of renewable capacity buildout on power markets, producing actionable insights that can be incorporated into our existing code base
  • Model the generation stack at various ISOs (ERCOT, SSP, etc.), enabling stochastic scenario analysis
  • Forecast the effects of increased transmission buildout on electricity markets
  • Improve upon and/or replace existing statistical models
  • Integrate your research with REsurety’s engineering team to productize results

Requirements:

  • Strong fundamental understanding of power markets
  • Degree in energy economics, computational finance, financial engineering, data science, or related field
  • A passion for REsurety’s mission: More Profitable Clean Energy

Preferred Qualifications:

  • Knowledge of wind industry resource assessment, operations, and economics
  • Working knowledge of statistical analysis
  • Programming experience with R (preferred), MATLAB, Python, or similar languages
  • Experience with GAMS and/or PowerWorld a plus

Apply: Interested applicants should send a cover letter and resume to Michael Garrison: mgarrison@resurety.com.

  • See the official job posting PDF here.
  • See more career opportunities for REsurety here.

Please make sure to reference seeing this position through the GPS Spotlight on Jobs post.

Not subscribed to our blog?

Click here to subscribe!

Congratulations to the Brandeis GPS class of 2017!

The Rabb School of Continuing Studies awarded diplomas to more than 100 GPS students at its 2017 commencement ceremony this Sunday, May 21. Approximately 45 members of the graduating class attended the event, which took place on campus from 8 to 9:30 a.m. at the Faculty Club.

“Not only have you mastered a rigorous curriculum, but most of you have done this while working full-time and while balancing family responsibilities,” said Rabb School of Continuing Studies Vice President Karen Muncaster. “You are bright and you are capable and you’re going to change the world.”

Given the online nature of GPS programs, many graduates arrived from out-of-state and visited the Brandeis campus for the first time. Some students are traveling as far as Australia, Canada and throughout the U.S., including California, Maryland, Florida, Illinois, Washington and North Carolina.

“Persevering through these programs is a truly relentless pursuit of long-term goals and requires incredible passion,” said student speaker and MS in Instructional Design and Technology recipient Kara Wasnewsky, whose cohort makes up the first group of graduates from that program.

The ceremony also featured remarks from Corey Thomas, CEO and president of Rapid7.

“My hope is that you achieve escape velocity, that you continually find the best in yourself, and that you resist the gravitational pull of apathy and mediocrity, said Thomas. “We need people who can go out and find common ground and mutual solutions. Be that catalyst who doesn’t just stay in your lane—be the one who seeks to unite.”

The full breakdown of diplomas handed out is as follows:

  • Master of Software Engineering (15 graduates)
  • MS in Bioinformatics (3 graduates)
  • MS in Health and Medical Informatics (11 graduates)
  • MS in Information Security Leadership (12)
  • MS in Instructional Design & Technology (4 graduates)
  • MS in Project and Program Management (33 graduates)
  • MS in Strategic Analytics (16 graduates)
  • MS in Technology Management (18 graduates)

Congratulations to our graduates!

FinTech is changing your life, and you don’t even know it

By Ashley Nagle Eknaian

Don’t believe me? Answer the following questions:

  1. Do you have any cash in your wallet right now?
  2. Have you ever bought something using your mobile phone?
  3. Have you been inside a bank branch in the last 6 months?

Now, let’s travel back in time to the year 2007; would your answers still be the same? Probably not. My point here is that 10 years ago, your experiences carrying, spending, saving, transferring, investing, and borrowing money were very different than they are today. In 2017, I am willing to bet that you use some sort of fintech app for your everyday financial needs. Using your mobile wallet to pay for coffee/tea in the morning? Repaying a friend for lunch using Venmo? Donating to a crowdfunding campaign? Checking your bank balance? Buying insurance? Refinancing your student loans? Considering a Robo-advisor to handle your investments? Leveraging an auto savings app to build a nest egg? All are examples of FinTech innovation that we now have access to with a tap and a swipe on our mobile devices.

FinTech is changing your life and you don't even know it

VC’s & banks take notice

As technology continues to permeate every aspect of our lives from social media to healthcare, why would our interactions with money be any different? Investment dollars have been pouring into FinTech the last few years ($17.4 Billion in venture backed funding in 2016 alone), which means that there are some very smart people trying to revolutionize every aspect of the financial services you use every day. While not all startups will be successful in this endeavor, the few that do will continue to transform the financial services ecosystem. And let’s not forget about big banks, top financial institutions have taken notice of the FinTech boom and taken action. These companies are building innovation labs, hiring top tech talent and investing / acquiring startups to ensure they stay relevant for customers in what has become a rapidly changing and competitive environment.

Technology rules

With all of the technology now available to create smarter, faster, and cheaper products and services, no corner of the financial industry will be left static. Take the rise of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ether – could there be a day in the not-so-distant future where physical currency becomes obsolete? You may think that sounds crazy, however, the next time you make a purchase, ask the company if it accepts bitcoin as a form of payment – the answer may surprise you. Technology will continue to change and be applied to financial services at a pace that we could never have imagined just a few short years ago. Emerging technologies like artificial intelligence, quantum computing, not to mention a little technology called “distributed ledger” will all play a role in fueling the next evolution of FinTech innovation for both institutions and consumers.

Global dominance

FinTech isn’t a regional, socio-economic or generational phenomenon. FinTech is global, and it will impact the entire financial ecosystem, from central banks to the unbanked. Get ready, because FinTech has only just begun changing your life.

Ashley Nagle Eknaian, program chair of the MS in Digital Innovation for FinTech at Brandeis University

Countdown to Commencement: Congratulations to the class of 2017!

On Sunday, May 21, at The Faculty Club at Brandeis University, The Rabb School of Continuing Studies will award diplomas to 112 Brandeis GPS students at its 2017 commencement ceremony. We are so excited that 44 members of the graduating class are expected to join us for the on-campus ceremony. We can’t wait to celebrate the achievements of all of our graduates!

As GPS programs are all fully online, many graduates are coming from out-of-state (and even out of the country!), and will be visiting the Brandeis campus for the first time. Students are traveling as far as Australia, Canada and throughout the U.S., including California, Maryland, Florida, Washington and North Carolina.

The ceremony will feature remarks from Raymond Tsang, Strategic Analytics graduate, and Student Speaker Kara Wasnewsky, Instructional Design and Technology graduate.

Kara Wasnewsky is a May 2017 graduate of the Instructional Design and Technology program. She graduated summa cum laude from Fitchburg State University in 2011 where she earned a bachelor’s of science in communication media. She is currently a Learning Tool Strategist at Pearson, the world’s leading learning company, where she designs online instructio
nal tools to assist instructors and students in higher education classrooms across the country. Kara lives in Franklin, Massachusetts.

Raymond Tsang is a veteran software engineer at Dell Technologies, Data Protection Unit.  Previously, Raymond served as a Senior Software Architect at Wilshire Inc, a financial consulting firm based in Santa Monica.  He is also the founder of StockTrendCharts.com, a website that predicts stock trends using a proprietary algorithm.  He graduated from UC, San Diego with a Bachelor degree in Computer Science & Engineering and is completing his Master degree with Brandeis University in Strategic Analytics.

Diplomas will be awarded to students graduating from the following programs:

  • Master of Software Engineering (15 graduates)
  • MS in Bioinformatics (3 graduates)
  • MS in Health and Medical Informatics (11 graduates)
  • MS in Information Security Leadership (12 graduates)
  • MS in Instructional Design and Technology (4 graduates)
  • MS in Technology Management (18 graduates)
  • MS in Project and Program Management (33 graduates)
  • MS in Strategic Analytics (16 graduates)

Congratulations to all of our graduates, we can’t wait to celebrate with you and hear about all of  your future accomplishments!

Countdown to Commencement: User Centered Design

As we’re gearing up for the Brandeis GPS commencement ceremony on May 21,  GPS students are gathering their families and preparing to travel to Waltham to celebrate their accomplishments. While planning is underway, we wanted to celebrate the first graduates of one of the newest GPS programs.

Launched in fall 2015, the MS in User-Centered Design represents a growing movement of designers who seek to produce technologies that adapt to the user rather than attempt to force behavioral change.

Many professionals currently working in IT, web development, digital marketing and computer science share the belief that the way people experience design is critical to the success of any creation. The User-Centered Design program at Brandeis GPS allows professionals with titles such as interactive designer, human factors engineer, user experience strategist, web developer, and more to expand their knowledge and career potential. The fully online, part-time program equips students to identify the human factors that influence user response, apply social and psychological principles to predict user response, and build prototypes and evaluate design effectiveness, analyzing qualitative and quantitative information.

In the Workforce

Today, professionals specializing in user-centered design are always in high demand.  In 2015 CNN Money identified user-centered design jobs as #14 on their nationwide list of top jobs, and  Glassdoor included user-centered design positions in their list of the top 25 “Highest Paying Jobs with the Most Openings Right Now.”

With some of the biggest names in technology and innovation looking to hire user center design specialists, those with this specialization are in high demand. Companies like Amazon, IBM, Deloitte, and Apple, among others, are constantly seeking new hires with the latest training in the field.

User Centered Design at Brandeis

The User Centered Design faculty understand the challenges of modern industry. When not teaching they’re developing technologies for higher education communities or advocating for design innovation, they structure their GPS curriculum to draw on real-world expertise and connections that ultimately help our students advance their career goals. Courses are taught by professionals in the field who draw on their work experience to mentor GPS students in the classroom.

The 30-credit User-Centered Design degree has seven required courses and three electives. Required courses provide students with a focused education surrounding fundamental topics in the field, while electives build upon specific professional skill sets and allow students to enrich and round out their studies.

We can’t wait to hear all that the class of 2017 will achieve as they use their knowledge to transform the development processes in many fields. We are confident that the skills they have gained as GPS students will allow them to further their career goals while making products, software, and other tools, that focus on usability. Congratulations to the User Centered Design students and the entire class of 2017!

Countdown to Commencement: (Re)Meet Kara Wasnewsky, Brandeis GPS Commencement Student Speaker

In 2015, Brandeis GPS profiled Kara Wasnewsky (Noonan), a student in our instructional design graduate program. Two years later, we are thrilled to announce that Kara has been selected as this year’s student commencement speaker. We recently had the pleasure of speaking with Kara about her journey and how her experience in the MS in Instructional Design and Technology has influenced her career path.

When she started the part-time, online graduate program, Kara was an Associate Media Producer at Pearson looking for a master’s degree that “provided the ideal integration of edtech and instructional design.” We checked back in with Kara recently and to hear her reflections on her experience in the IDT, the impact it had on her career, and advice she has for future students.

A more strategic role

A year after Kara began the program, she was promoted to a learning tool strategist. Now, instead of working on media components that go into larger products, she creates more complex learning tools that can be used within a product or on their own. Working on instructional videos and other learning tools, Kara explained to us how her video production methods have evolved even further as she continued the program.

“I learned to utilize visuals and narration to create an effective learning experience. When designing instructional videos you must be cautious of cognitive overload. I have been much more deliberate about the decisions I make for the visuals used in the videos I produce. I make sure that the visuals enhance the concept that is being discussed in the video, rather than just being there to decorate the screen.”

Kara also noted that the most rewarding outcome of the program for her is the confidence she has gained. “With the knowledge and skills gained through the Brandeis program, I have become much more confident in my ideas. I speak up much more on the projects I work on because I know what will be most beneficial for the learner and can back up my ideas with science.” Building on her new skills gained through her master’s degree, Kara hope to one day transition to an instructional designer at a college or university, working closely with instructors and immediately track the impact of the learning experiences they create.

Learning from peers

While in the IDT program, Kara was able to learn from her classmates, not just her instructors. She noted this as a valuable part of her learning experience.

“Fellow students are really key to these online courses, since a lot of our understanding comes from the sharing of ideas between us. My classmates came from various roles in higher ed, k-12 and corporate training. I work in a corporate environment, but I create learning experiences for undergraduate students, so I really took a lot away from the variety of backgrounds.

Reading the interpretations of a concept from these different perspectives helped me to understand it in new ways. Without the diversity of the class, I would have just interpreted things as I understood them through the context of my experience working at an academic publisher. I would not have uncovered the nuances with how things can be applied in different settings. It really made for some interesting discussions.”

As a creator of online learning tools, Kara is a proponent of the benefits of the online classroom, and thinks that the greatest benefit of this learning style is the opportunity for thoughtful reflection.

“In a face-to-face course discussions happen spur of the moment, so it is difficult to really have rich discussions. I was always quiet in classes, so I rarely even participated in discussions. In the online courses at Brandeis you are required to post weekly to a discussion board and to comment on two posts of your peers. The posts that are made are always very thoughtful, since the student has time think about what they are going to post before they do.”

A note to future students

Kara advises future students to “think about what your personal goals are for obtaining the degree and make sure that you get everything you can out of the program. Many of the projects that will be completed in the program can be tailored to your specific interests, so if you identify those interests early you will have an impressive portfolio of work that is in line with your personal goals.”

Kara certainly followed her own advice and we look forward to hearing about her future accomplishments. Congratulations Kara and the entire class of 2017!

This year’s 2017 commencement ceremony will take place on Sunday, May 21, at 8 a.m. Follow #GPSclassof2017 to be part of the celebration!

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