The Brandeis GPS blog

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

Student Spotlight: Carolyn Aquino

Five Apps to Help You Manage Your Money

In honor of Boston FinTech Week, we’re looking at ways FinTech impacts our daily lives. 

As those in the FinTech space already know, managing one’s personal finances is easier than ever. Thanks to the rise of financial technology, users can make purchases, check bank statements, pay bills and track investments straight from their mobile devices.

FinTech apps are constantly evolving

In today’s crowded FinTech marketplace, financial technology companies and their app designers have been forced to up their game, providing more accessible, user-friendly interfaces. . 

Five free or low-cost  FinTech apps 

1. Venmo

Venmo allows users to request or send money from their family and friends by either connecting to their personal bank account or by depositing funds into the app.(Free)

2. Mint

Mint gives users an opportunity to see their finances all in one place. The app houses credit scores, bills, balances, investments and more. Users can set savings goals, manage budgets, and track their progress. (Free)

3. Acorns

Acorns is an app that takes a user’s spare change from their daily purchases by rounding up to the nearest dollar and puts that money toward savings or investments. ($1, $2, or $3 per month depending on a user’s account balance)

4. Wally

Wally is a daily tracking app designed to give users an overall picture of their financial activity as well as to set goals for the future. (Free)

5. PocketGuard

PocketGuard is a money management app that enables users to see where they are spending their money in simple and easy-to-understand graphs. PocketGuard provides tips on where users could potentially be saving money and creates unique budgets for each individual. (Free)

 

Brandeis Graduate Professional Studies is committed to creating programs and courses that keep today’s professionals at the forefront of their industries. To learn more, visit www.brandeis.edu/gps.

What is Learning Experience Design and why is it the next frontier in learning and development?

By Brian Salerno

If you’ve been paying attention to the world of instructional design, learning and development, and educational technology, there’s no doubt that you’ve heard a lot of new terminology over the last five or so years. Learning architecture, learning engineering, and learning experience design are just a few of the newest word combinations being used to describe the field of practice that was once primarily encapsulated by the term instructional design.

These are not just buzzwords, but a sign that the field is rapidly changing in ways that are transforming the way learners experience education and training, and the impact that learning has on their careers, personal lives, and pursuit of lifelong learning.

So, what does it all mean?

If you consider how education and professional training have evolved over the last decade and a half, it’s clear that learning has undergone (and continues to undergo) a massive digital transformation. Technology and mobile connectivity have given life to a whole new way of learning – on demand, on-the-go, and wrapped around and between all the other aspects of our busy lives – this digital transformation has also transformed the way educators approach the design of trainings, courses, and academic programs.

With the rise of online learning and other digitally-enabled approaches, providers of education and training are increasingly coming to the realization that effective and impactful learning isn’t simply a transactional experience that starts and ends with a final grade or with a student’s successful completion of a certification test, but instead is a holistic and integrated approach that considers the entire learning experience.

This is where the field of Learning Experience Design comes into the picture. Learning Experience Design (also known as LX or LxD) is an interdisciplinary approach to the design of learning and training that is grounded in human-centered approaches adapted from user-experience design (UX), user-interface design (UI), design thinking, cognitive psychology, learning science, and instructional systems design with the goal of creating learning experiences that converge curriculum and technology in a manner that creates powerful, contextualized, and transformative education and training experiences.

Learning Experience Designers don’t simply design educational resources and assessments, but instead they use learner research techniques to understand the ‘persona’ of the intended learner audience and map a learning journey that will ensure learners meet their goals, they curate and create learning content that is flexible and adaptive, they evaluate and adopt learning technologies that help the learners apply their learning in a real-world content, they develop highly applied and experiential activities that help learners meet outcomes and demonstrate competencies, and they leverage learning analytics and data to continuously improve the learning experience.

Learning Experience Designers will often leverage design thinking and rapid prototyping techniques to guide the creative process of developing impactful, memorable, and transformative learning experiences. Learner-centered approaches to designing education and training frequently require subject matter experts to break out from traditional approaches to educating and assessing student learning, and Learning Experience Designers use these techniques to help to understand and empathize with the learners, define the learning goals or competencies, guide the ideation process to come up with the most learner-centered approaches, protype and test those ideas, and implement learning solutions that engage learners in new and powerful ways.

For many years, companies have understood that experience design is a valuable and even necessary approach to making their products and services accessible, desirable, and enjoyable to use for their customers. In the field of education and training, we don’t often like to think of our learners as customers, but we know that our learners’ ability to access and use learning technologies, their desire to learn and engage with educational content, and the level to which they enjoy learning has a significant impact on their levels of engagement and even the level to which the learning content ‘sticks’ and can be applied later on…

This is why Learning Experience Design has emerged as the next frontier in learning and development, because positive and relevant learning experiences that keep the learner and their needs at the center help to ensure that our learners become engaged experts, lifelong learners, and powerful contributors to their fields.

Brian Salerno is the chair of the MS in Learning Experience Design program at Brandeis GPS.

Tips for building relationships with virtual classmates

All learning —even digital learning — is a collaborative experience. Online students have the unique opportunity to connect with peers from all over the country and the world. Thanks to constant advances in instructional design, social networking and UX/UI, students pursuing online graduate degrees have the same opportunities to build meaningful relationships with their classmates as their on-campus counterparts. Read on for our guidelines on how to maximize these virtual relationships.

1) Practice empathetic communication

Empathetic communication, or empathetic listening, refers to the practice of listening with the intent to understand the speaker’s frame of reference for how they experience the world. Thanks to the nature of online learning, you may find yourself in a classroom full of people with different communication styles, norms and cultural values. Common slang that you’re used to may not resonate with a peer from a different country. When it comes to scheduling, be mindful of different time zones. And while it’s easy to get caught up in the stress of needing to complete a group project on a deadline, try being mindful of varying professional or personal commitments your classmates may have outside of school.

2) Choose a program that prioritizes learning experience design and peer engagement.

Not all online programs are created equally. As you evaluate your options for an online master’s degree, make sure you are considering programs that provide an optimal digital learning experience that prioritizes student-to-student interaction. Brandeis Graduate Professional Studies uses the latest best practices in online course design to foster peer engagement, and has offered online courses for more than a decade. Additionally, unlike MOOCs and other online education providers, Brandeis GPS caps courses at 20 students.

3) Make time for social interaction.

Connecting with your classmates on social media platforms like LinkedIn or Slack will allow you to engage on a more informal level. Many people use these tools to share career insights and interesting articles and trends, so you’ll be able to expand your professional network and learn a bit more about your industry. You may even learn about an interesting conference opportunity or a new position to apply to.

In addition to social media, make sure you take advantage of your program’s online learning module. Students at Brandeis GPS use a special social forum to chat about non-course-related events, such as current affairs, sports, or regional networking opportunities.

4) Write with clarity

When it comes to any online interaction, clear and concise writing is critical for optimal communication. But writing with clarity involves more than writing with brevity. Being intentional with the words you choose, how you format your writing, and the tone you mean to convey is essential for fostering strong virtual relationships. Here are some examples of how to write with clarity:

  • Don’t over-complicate things: why use fancy words when simple ones will do? If you do use words that are likely to be unfamiliar to the bulk of your audience, make sure you define them. This relates back to empathetic communication.
  • Keep your paragraphs short in discussion posts or emails – try for one or two sentences per paragraph, if possible.
  • Keep your sentences short.
  • Leverage writing tools like Microsoft Word’s readability stats or the Hemingway App.
  • Avoid passive voice.

5) Take advantage of technology

Today’s technology makes it easy to collaborate. Make your group projects a more seamless experience with tools like:

  • Zoom, which allows for cloud-based video and audio conferencing
  • User-friendly project management apps for virtual teams like Asana or Trello
  • Google Drive, which provides free cloud storage for online documents, spreadsheets, presentations and more. Drive also has a chat feature, which allows teams to easily collaborate while all working on a document.

Brandeis Graduate Professional Studies is committed to creating programs and courses that keep today’s professionals at the forefront of their industries. To learn more, visit www.brandeis.edu/gps

 

Student Spotlight: Scott Henderson

4 Reasons to Study Health and Medical Informatics

1. Innovate healthcare delivery and improve patient care. Today’s health and medical informatics professionals have the opportunity to truly impact patient care and healthcare delivery. As information systems within the health and medical industry grow more complex with evolving technologies, organizations need leaders who can stay on top of new ways to develop and implement IT solutions to improve patient care, protect medical data privacy, and leverage information systems to make more strategic decisions.

2. Earn a more competitive salary. Your investment in higher education will pay off. The Bureau of Labor Statistics found that the median salary for health informatics professionals with a master’s degree is $20,000 more than those with a bachelor’s. Additionally, specializing in health informatics can boost your career prospects. According to the University of San Diego, the average health IT professional can expect to earn $25,927.52 more than general IT professional each year.

3. Open yourself up to a variety of job options. There are many ways to apply a health and medical informatics degree. Graduates develop the skills necessary to create, manage and evaluate information technology systems that are constantly changing in response to new innovations. Health informatics career options range from consultants to informatics nurses to project managers, and professionals can find opportunities in hospitals, labs, pharmaceutical companies, government agencies and more.

4. Join a growing field. The health informatics industry is growing fast. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the projected growth for health information technicians is 13% between the years 2016 to 2026, which is higher than the average growth rate for all occupations.

Brandeis Graduate Professional Studies offers a Master of Science in Health and Medical Informatics that prepares students to improve patient and healthcare outcomes as well as organizational performance and efficiencies . The 30-credit program is fully online and designed to support professionals who are working full time. Learn more here.

Brandeis Graduate Professional Studies is committed to creating programs and courses that keep today’s professionals at the forefront of their industries. To learn more, visit www.brandeis.edu/gps

Student Spotlight: Denny Singh

Brandeis announces commitment to open source movement

Brandeis University and Open Source Initiative to launch new educational partnership
Resources designed to fill key skills gaps as open source industry matures.

PORTLAND, OR – Brandeis Graduate Professional Studies (GPS) will partner with The Open Source Initiative® (OSI) to provide new educational offerings for the open source community, the university announced at OSCON 2019. 

As more companies start leveraging Open Source Software to reduce costs, decrease time to deployment and foster innovation, the organizations that have realized success as open source consumers are now extending their participation within open source communities as collaborators and contributors. This shift can create new challenges to traditional business processes and models, requiring dedicated policies, programs and personnel to ensure that the investments in open source projects produce the desired benefits while still aligning with the values of the open source communities. The Brandeis GPS-OSI partnership will help address the growing demand for expertise within organizations seeking to authentically collaborate with, and productively manage, open source resources. 

“Understanding how to assess, engage, and contribute to open source communities while also delivering value to your company is the next generation skill set employers are looking for,” said Patrick Masson, general manager of the Open Source Initiative. “We’re thrilled to work with Brandeis to help continue the incredible growth of open source software and projects.”

Learn more about the new specialization in Open Source Technology Management

True to open source software process and principles, the educational offerings coming out of the partnership will be crowd-sourced and jointly developed by an advisory board comprised of university curriculum development experts and senior open source advocates from Amazon, Red Hat, Bloomberg, Twitter and other leading companies. 

“Brandeis GPS is known for developing programs that keep a finger on the pulse of what’s happening in technology,” said Dr. James La Creta, the university’s chief information officer and chair of the Master of Science in Technology Management program. “Much like the other graduate programs at Brandeis GPS, open source technology’s flexibility, speed, and cost-effectiveness makes it extremely desirable for organizations. It yields a better quality product, creates a culture of collaboration, and attracts curious and innovative talent that all CIO’s covet.”

Courses and other initiatives are currently in development, and the university expects to announce more information about the first open source educational program later this year. Visit www.brandeis.edu/open-source to learn more.

About Brandeis Graduate Professional Studies
Brandeis University’s Graduate Professional Studies division (GPS) offers fully online, part-time graduate programs, specializations, and professional development courses in today’s most in-demand fields. With graduate programs that include Technology Management, Information Security Leadership, User-Centered Design, and Digital Innovation for FinTech, Brandeis GPS strives to provide programs that empower students to be on the leading edge of advancements in technology and innovation. Courses are led by industry experts who deliver professional insights and individualized support. Brandeis GPS is dedicated to extending the rigorous academic standards that make Brandeis University one of the top institutions in the country to a diverse population seeking to advance their careers through continuing studies. 

About The Open Source Initiative

Founded in 1998, The Open Source Initiative protects and promotes Open Source Software, development and communities, championing software freedom in society through education, collaboration, and infrastructure, stewarding the Open Source Definition, and preventing abuse of the ideals and ethos inherent to the open source movement. The OSI is a public charity with global vision based in California. For more information about the OSI, please see, opensource.org.

Student Spotlight: Charlie D’Angelo

Student spotlight on Charlie D'Angelo from Northborough, Massachusetts. He is part of the Digital Marketing and Design Program and is a digital marketing manager at Boston Scientific. He has taken seven class. Movie theater or Netflix? Netflix. Favorite ice cream flavor? Chocolate almond chip. If there were 25 hours in a day, how would you use that extra hour? Learn to play the piano. Mr D'Angelo says, "Digital marketing expertise is so important in today's business world, and my goals include being the most knowledgeable digital professional I can be to help Boston Scientific continue to grow."

Meet the newest GPS faculty members

Our July session is just around the corner, and we are excited to welcome the newest faculty members to Brandeis University. These industry leaders come to Brandeis GPS with expertise and established networks within their fields. We have no doubt that the knowledge and experience they bring will provide for meaningful learning opportunities in their online classrooms.

Michelle Venezia: Foundations of Project Management

Michelle Venezia is the Director of the Information System Division’s Project Portfolio Office at the University of Rochester Medical Center. She has 20+ years of global experience in business development and project management, spanning the  IT, healthcare, medical device and defense industries. She received an MBA from Pennsylvania State University, a BS in Industrial Engineering from the State University of New York at Buffalo and holds the Project Management Professional (PMP), Agile Certified Practitioner (ACP), and Portfolio Management Professional (PIMP) certification from the Project Management Institute (PMI). Learn more about Foundations of Project Management here.

Timothy Song: Bioinformatics Scripting and Databases with Python

Timothy Song, MS, is a bioinformatics engineer at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. He works on creating tools for the cancer informatics pipeline and aiding oncologists in their research. His prior work includes analyzing Influenza viral diversity in human populations from next generation sequencing data. Learn more about Bioinformatics Scripting and Databases with Python here.

David Swiniarski: Perspectives on Information Technology

David Swiniarski, MBA, is a Managing Consultant with Norima Consulting where he leads strategic information technology programs and projects for clients in alignment with their firm’s business strategy. Leveraging his business architecture skills, he has successfully delivered programs and projects related to the strategic competencies of IT governance, transformation, risk management and regulatory compliance in the Financial Services industry. He received a MBA from Suffolk University. Learn more about Perspectives on Information Technology here.

Robert Lipscomb: Agile Software Development

Robert “Kirk” Lipscomb is a Technology Manager with 40 years of experience in software development. Currently API Development Manager for Fiserv, a major FinTech company, Kirk has owned a software consulting firm and has managed development teams in a variety of industries. He has a strong track record of successful agile transformations, even in industries like defense contracting where he managed a team supporting military operations on-site in Baghdad, Iraq. Kirk has a BS in Computer Science from Texas A&M and an MBA in Technology Management from the University of Colorado. Learn more about Agile Software Development here.

Sarah Pagliacio: User Experience Design

Sarah Pagliacio, MA, ALM, is the Founder and Chief Digital Strategist at Black Pepper, a digital strategy consultancy that provides customer research, user experience design, and usability testing services. Sarah leads a team that delivers award-winning large-scale content-managed websites and complex mobile and desktop web apps for higher education, financial services, not-for-profit, and healthcare organizations. Her research interests include artificial intelligence and machine learning in Shakespeare and the user-centered design process. She received her BA and MA in psychology from Boston University and an ALM in English Literature from Harvard Extension School. Learn more about User Experience Design here.

Daniel Pineo: Machine Learning

Dr. Daniel Pineo has over 15 years of broad expertise developing advanced machine learning, computer vision, and artificial intelligence algorithms. He specializes in developing robust, high-performance algorithms for bespoke hardware platforms. He works as Director of Algorithm Development for L3 Technologies, and prior to that was Senior Principal Research Engineer for BAE Systems. Learn more about Machine Learning here.

Dragan Grigorjev: Risk Management in Projects and Programs

Dragan Grigorjev, MBA, PMP, CSM, is a Senior Technical Program Manager in Information Technology Services Industry. He leads all aspects of program management for strategic initiatives that transform the global enterprise business systems. His responsibilities include establishing best practices, governance frameworks, PMO standards, procedures, and quality objectives including metrics and KPls for assessing progress of strategic technology programs. Learn more about Risk Management in Project and Programs here.

Faces of GPS is an occasional series that profiles Brandeis University Graduate Professional Studies students, faculty and staff. Find more Faces of GPS stories here.

 

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