The Brandeis GPS blog

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

Month: April 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!

SPOTLIGHT ON JOBS: QinetiQ North America

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:  QinetiQ North America, Waltham, MA

About: QinetiQ North America delivers world-class technology and revolutionary products to defense, security and commercial markets worldwide.  Our offerings range from survivability and unmanned systems to power, controls, sensors and transportation solutions. Customers rely on our products to increase readiness, improve mission effectiveness, streamline operations, increase situational awareness and enhance security.

Position: Program Manager

Position Details: Program Manager will support QNA Maritime Systems business area by supporting new and ongoing Navy development, production, and lifecycle support programs. Program Manager will also identify and capture new Maritime business.

Manage design, development, manufacturing, test and installation activities for commercial and Department of Defense projects. Individual will be responsible for initiating projects by directly working with customer/sponsors to define top level scope and overall objectives. This individual will be a key contributor to plan projects by reviewing customer requirements, defining WBS, estimate durations/costs, developing schedules, and critical path analysis. During the execution of the project the program manager shall lead a team to execute planned tasks to deliver specific scope on time and on budget. The program manager will be expected to use his/her skills and knowledge of the system to identify issues as they occur and provide direction to maintain cost & schedule performance.

Responsibilities:

  • Interface with customer and support requests to modify/add scope to project by providing proposals.
  • Develop schedules and budgets using WBS, critical path and estimating techniques.
  • Develop project plans including developing MS Project schedules.
  • Communicate weekly plans to the project team.
  • Direct project team and provide guidance to mitigate issues as they occur.
  • Work with the team to take project performance and update MS Project plan

Requirements: 

  • 2 – 10 years as a project manager, technical lead or Cost Account Manager on an electromechanical development/production project.
  • BS Engineering or BA Business or related field.
  • Program Management Professional (PMP) certification preferred.
  • Must have experience managing DOD acquisition programs.
  • MS Project – Must have hands on experience.
  • EVMS – Must have 2+ years of experience managing with EVMS.
  • Excellent People Skills – Must be capable of leading a team of technical personnel, capable of conflict resolution. Must be capable of managing a customer to assure the customer’s needs are met without incurring scope growth.
  • Scope/Requirements Analysis – Must be capable of working with a customer to translate the customer’s wants and needs to top level scope and requirements.
  • Estimating – Must be capable of working with Subject Matter Experts to develop estimates for duration and cost.
  • Schedule/Budgets – Must be capable of developing a WBS and translating that to a Microsoft Project schedule. Develop budget for all work packages in the WBS.

Desired Skills:

  • Experience with Navy LRIP and/or FRP programs
  • Development and Maintenance of Logistics Management Information (LMI) in accordance with MIL-STD-1388-2B, GEIA-STD-0007, or MIL-PRF-49506
  • Spares analysis and spares development
  • Experience writing DoD proposals

Apply:  Apply here on the QinetiQ job portal 

Please make sure to reference seeing this position through the Brandeis GPS job spotlight post.

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Standards of excellence in online learning

The stigma that surrounded online learning when it first came to market is no more, with more students taking online classes than ever before. A National Center for Education Statistics report found that graduate students enrolled in fully online courses in 2014 made up 25 percent of all graduate enrollments that year. Why the shift? U.S. News and World Report hypothesizes that online course delivery from elite educational institutions played a role in changing people’s perceptions of what it’s like to learn inside a virtual classroom.

Online graduate students at Brandeis are held to the same standards of excellence as any other student enrolled in the nationally ranked university. Brandeis GPS students join a network of thousands of students and alumni who are passionate, dedicated change-makers. GPS students experience a curriculum built with the same academic rigor that drives the entire university. All GPS classes meet comprehensive standards for online course development and delivery. Under the guidance of professional advisory boards, each online degree program undergoes extensive biennial reviews that examine programmatic content to ensure industry relevancy.

Founded in 1948, at a time when universities had quotas based on race, religion, and gender, Brandeis championed the idea that people should be able to attend university solely based on their academic merit. While there are no such quotas today, Brandeis University still upholds these principles of diversity and inclusivity. GPS is dedicated to extending the benefit of a Brandeis graduate education to a diverse working professional population.

With the abundance of online resources GPS offers, local students can also take advantage of the state-of-the-art facilities on campus, including the library and the gym.

Brandeis University’s Graduate Professional Studies division (GPS) is dedicated to developing innovative programs for working professionals. GPS offers 11 fully online, part-time master’s degrees and one online graduate certificate. With four 10-week session each year, Brandeis GPS provides exceptional programs with a convenient and flexible online approach. Courses are small by design and led by industry experts who deliver individualized support and professional insights. For more information on our programs visit the Brandeis GPS website.

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