The Brandeis GPS blog

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

Category: Industry Insights (page 1 of 4)

The value of professional communications

World Cloud of RCOM102 Course DescriptionEveryone needs to communicate – it’s what connects us to others and how we share our ideas. Communication with others is key for success in all aspects of life, both with personal and professional relationships.

Professional communication can be verbal or non-verbal, encompassing the articulation of one’s thoughts and/or body language during meetings, in public speaking scenarios, or via email. Regardless of what industry you’re in, it is important to master so-called “soft skills” such as effectively communicating if you’re looking to advance into a more senior-level leadership position.

According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, the top five personal qualities or skills potential employers seek are:

  1. Communication skills (verbal and written)
  2. Strong work ethic
  3. Teamwork skills (works well with others, group communication)
  4. Initiative
  5. Analytical skills

Communication skills frequently make the top of the list for what qualities employers look for in all industries. Actions that professionals can take to become more successful communicators include:

Active listening 

It is important to concentrate on the message that someone else is communicating and exhibit behaviors such as eye contact to demonstrate your interest. Active listening also includes asking clarifying questions to ensure you fully understand what the person is expressing to you. If you listen closely, you will be able to analyze information from others better and more effectively respond to it.

Encouraging interaction through non-verbal cues

A lot of messages are communicated between people without any talking. Non-verbal signals such as posture, hand gestures, and eye contact impact how others will perceive you and your message.  For example, when speaking to a larger group, even a smile that shows confidence will go a long way towards engaging others. It is important that your non-verbal cues match up with the message you are trying to get across.

Being clear and concise

Whether expressing your opinion or asking questions of others, it is critical to get to the point quickly. Stating your ideas in a straightforward way will allow others to more easily understand what you are saying.

Using persuasive reasoning

There are often times when you may have an opinion that is different from someone else, but you have to agree to go forward with one. In times like these, using logic and reason to demonstrate the strengths of your perspective will go a long way. This means providing everyone with the facts and sharing relevant examples.

Knowing your audience

You’ll communicate with people differently depending on their backgrounds, professional titles, and experiences. It will be helpful to know what your audience is expecting from your interactions, so you can surpass those expectations.

Ultimately, there are many steps that you can take to improve your communication skills. One way to learn more is to take a professional communications course. Brandeis GPS offers part-time, online courses for adult learners looking to build professional development. Contact us for more information about our professional communications courses: 781-736-8787, gps@brandeis.edu, or submit your information.

Right kind of graduate study can give current biotech staff boost we seek

In their June 4 op-ed, Mayor Marty Walsh and Vertex Pharmaceuticals President, CEO and Chairman Dr. Jeffrey Leiden make a compelling case for strengthening the biotech workforce pipeline in Massachusetts. Establishing strong public-private partnerships with Boston Public Schools is a necessary strategy for developing and retaining young talent for the state’s growing biopharmaceutical sector.

It is equally important, however, that we not overlook alternative pipelines for workforce development. Professional master’s degrees can help research assistants, engineers, lab technicians and other qualified biotech professionals transition into the more advanced bioinformatics positions that Massachusetts relies on to remain competitive.

As we continue prioritizing investments in economic growth and innovation, we must remember that there is more than one educational pathway toward closing the biopharma skills gap. The right type of graduate education can equip professionals who already have a foothold in the industry with the technology and expertise to advance their careers, producing a new wave of talented employees who can take on this complex and incredibly important work.

 

This letter first appeared in the Boston Globe on June 10.

UXPA Boston Student Recap | Part 2

Brandeis GPS was a proud sponsor of the 2018 UXPA Boston annual conference. This week, we’re featuring a two-part series on how the conference was experienced through the eyes of two students in the MS in User-Centered Design. Read Part 1 here.

By Craig Cailler, as told in his own words:

The Boston Chapter of the User Experience Professionals’ Association held their annual conference at the Sheraton Boston Hotel on Thursday, May 10, 2018. I have attended this event for many years and watched it grow from a few hundred people hosted at local university, to over one thousand people attending sessions occupying multiple ball rooms in a large hotel in downtown Boston. This year was something special as the team at UXPA Boston was able to promote an appearance by industry veteran, Rolf Molich, from DialogDesign in Denmark in Europe. President of UXPA Boston, Dan Berlin, posted this to his Twitter account about the occasion, “Rolf Molich presenting CUE-10 results at #UXPABOS18 makes me feel like we’ve finally hit the big time.” It was truly a special moment for the team, and the conference, as they prove again that this has become one of the premier annual events with the industry.

This first session I attended this year was, “CPUX – A Serious (and Usable?) European Attempt at Certifying UX Professionals” presented by Rolf Molich. The International Usability and UX Qualification Board is composed of UX professionals from across Europe that develop and maintain the curricula for the purpose of introducing usability to new practitioners, keeping active practitioners current and establishing common terminology and technologies across the industry. The CPUX offers several levels of certification, covering topics such as Human-centered design process, Definitions, Understanding of context of use, User requirements, Design solutions, Usability tests and Inspections and user surveys. During the session, Rolf “quizzed” the audience with sample questions used in the certification process using an online live polling software. Rolf closed out the session by telling the audience that the team at UXQB were looking for sponsors here in the United States to begin providing this training, so keep your eyes out for future CPUX classes in our area.

I was also introduced to several new tools as part of other presentations. In the session entitled, “Through Their Eyes: Using VR to Simulate Retinal Diseases”, Jessica Holt-Carr and Weiwei Huang walked the audience through the process they used to build empathy for disabled users who suffer with visual impairments by using low vision simulation kits. Jessica and Weiwei explained how they used an Android application called SimViz (In My Eyes – iOS alternative) in conjunction with a hand-made cardboard device that held the mobile device comfortable on participants while blocking out all light sources. Jessica summarized the benefits of this approach as:

  • Identifies accessibility barriers
  • Seeing the world from their view
  • Raises awareness to the issue

In another session entitled, “Digital whiteboarding and other techniques for remote collaboration and ideation”, the team of Kristina Beckley and Ethan Perry from IBM spoke to the audience about a digital whiteboarding tool called “Mural” as part of the presentation. They discussed how they used the tool to collect input from global team members as part of their global design process that includes “Hills, Playbacks and Sponsor Users”. They provided the audience with some best practices based on their use of the tool including…

  • Timebox the process
  • Make sure people are contributing
  • Setup separate rooms, 8-12 people each

UXPA Boston Student Recap | Part 1

Brandeis GPS was a proud sponsor of the 2018 UXPA Boston annual conference. This week, we’re featuring a two-part series on how the conference was experienced through the eyes of two students in the MS in User-Centered Design. Read Part 2 here.

By Roslyn Jones, as told in her own words:

I had a great experience at the UXPA Boston conference. There were so many great professionals and organizations to network with. My most important takeaways derived from the organization networking space, Making Websites Readable discussion and the Mentoring forum.

Within the organization networking space, I was able to connect with multiple companies that were either offering User Experience (UX) job positions or showcasing tools valuable to the UX industry. The pictured MPACT game-like persona builder, which is picture below, is a creatively innovative tool that aids teams in creating persona profiles. The representatives at each table were so pleasant and were eager to speak to each attendee about the services that their businesses provide. Also, it was a pleasure meeting student advisor Daniel Mongeon at the Brandeis GPS table. As I continued to explore the different tables, I stumbled upon the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), an academic, professional, service based engineering organization. It was great connecting with them and speaking with other conference attendees about its purpose.

The Making Websites Readable session provided methods to enhance the readability of a website in a fun and engaging way. They incorporated storytelling, comic strips, and a web-redesign exercise to deliver their 7 Tips for Web Style. The session started off with an animated reading of a Pearls Before Swine comic strip, which was nothing short of entertaining. This led us into analyzing a poorly designed website created specifically for this demonstration. I like how Jen Kramer and Martha Nichols continuously engaged the audience, maintained high energy throughout the presentation and presented takeaways that were short, simple, and useful. Their 7 Tips for Web Style are:

  1. Keep it short
  2. Add snappy headings
  3. Find your focus
  4. Make a list
  5. Get specific
  6. Adjust visuals
  7. Use your words wisely

During the Mentoring Session, I obtained perspectives from two professionals who have years of UX experience. Our mentee group consisted of seven individuals who are new to UX.  Throughout this session we received great tips on how to position ourselves to impress a manager or other UX hiring executive. My key takeaways from this session involved tips for figuring out how to make yourself more marketable in the field. This includes, being able to communicate with industry professionals, understanding and portraying knowledge of the process, showcasing your relative skills, and participating in events that strengthen and highlight these relative skills.

Susan Carman brings decades of expertise, leadership to Health and Medical Informatics

Susan Carman, HMI chairBrandeis GPS is thrilled to announce the hiring of Susan Carman, MS, CHCIO, PMP, as program chair of the online MS in Health and Medical Informatics.

In her role as chair, Susan serves as the subject matter expert for the program, providing the industry insights that keep the program’s curriculum and outcomes current and relevant.

Susan is the Chief Information Officer at UHS Hospitals and has served in the healthcare information technology and informatics industry for a total of 28 years. Prior to her current role, Susan was the VP of Information Technology at Wingate Healthcare, implementing an EMR system and building a HIPAA security plan for their 19 Post Acute Care facilities.

Susan spent 15 years of her career at Medical Information Technology (MEDITECH) implementing Electronic Medical Records throughout the U.S. and Canada. She transitioned to the Healthcare Provider sector in 2004 starting with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and more recently at Hebrew Senior Life, leading her team to complete the implementation of Stage 6 EMR system. Susan is certified as a Healthcare CIO (CHCIO) and Project Manager (PMP) and is an active member of HIMSS (Health Information Management Systems Society) and CHIME (College of Healthcare Information Management Executives). She is also an active participant in the Executive Mentorship Program with ACHE (American College of Healthcare Executives). Susan completed her Master’s degree in Healthcare Informatics at the University of Massachusetts in 2013.

Learn more about the part-time, online Master’s of Science in Health and Medical Informatics 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.

From student to commencement speaker to alumna

In 2015, Brandeis GPS profiled Kara Wasnewsky (Noonan), a now alumna of our Instructional Design and Technology master’s program. We spoke with Kara again in 2017 as she was getting ready to give her commencement speech last May. Now, almost a year later, we sat down with Kara and talked about her accomplishments and current job as an Instructional Designer at Regis College in Weston, MA.

In her role, she works one-on-one with faculty to design online and hybrid courses as well as offer guidance on integrating technology into the classroom. She also facilitates professional development workshops around instructional design and technology.

Read on for Kara’s thoughts on her journey to instructional design in her own words.


On her journey to instructional design:

Instructional design didn’t hit my radar until I started working for Pearson, an educational publisher. My role at the time was to project manage the development of media for their large courseware products, but what I really wanted to do was design them. Design strategy came from the instructional designers, so I set my sights on becoming an instructional designer. 

As I finished my coursework in instructional design, I started considering opportunities outside of my current company and decided that I would like most to work directly with higher education faculty to design courses.

On what she finds particularly rewarding about working as an instructional designer in higher ed:

I have worked with a couple of faculty who were nervous about teaching online when they first came to work with me. Many of them did not believe that online courses could be as effective as the face-to-face courses they have been teaching. It is so rewarding to see these faculty start to get excited about their online courses and what they can do in the learning management system.

On the impact her Brandeis GPS degree made on her career:

What I learned in Brandeis’ Instructional Design and Technology program was immediately transferable to my role as an Instructional Designer. In the program, I learned the process of designing effective instruction, which is the same process I have the faculty implement for their courses. 

Most importantly, I learned what the role of an instructional designer is and can be, which has been integral to my success. On my first day, it was expected that I knew the role and what I needed to do, and it is up to me to provide the strategy for moving instructional design at Regis forward.

On advice to those considering a career in instructional design: 

To be successful in a role like mine you do need to be knowledgeable about instructional design and the common technologies used for instruction in a higher education setting. My advice for anyone considering instructional design is for them to pursue it. It is a challenging profession, but it is a lot of fun. There are a lot of exciting things happening in this field, especially in higher education.


It’s been great to talk with Kara over the years and see her evolve from student to commencement speaker to an accomplished instructional designer.

To learn more about the part-time, online MS in Instructional Design and Technology, contact our enrollment team at gps@brandeis.edu or 781-736-8787.

Brandeis University’s Graduate Professional Studies division (GPS) offers fully online, part-time master’s degrees and professional development courses in today’s most in-demand fields. With four 10-week sessions each year, students can complete their degree in as little as 18 months. 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. Brandeis is a medium-sized private research university with a global reach, dedicated to first-rate undergraduate education and the making of groundbreaking discoveries. The university’s 5,700 undergraduate and graduate students are motivated, compassionate, curious, and open to exploring new and challenging experiences. 

Users are in control. Find out how to reach them.

First comes product or service, then comes user. Right? Unfortunately, this simple method no longer holds true in our user-driven society. In today’s world, the user always comes first.

In order to create a product or service with staying power, you need to first find out who your user is. Then, you need to find out what they want, how they behave, and their likes and dislikes.  User-Centered Design has become an integral element in the creation of just about any product or service.

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Writing Content That Makes Readers Click

From your phone to your laptop, to your newsfeed, you are constantly receiving hundreds of thousands of pieces of web content. These messages come in various shapes and sizes and provide all types of information. But, only some of these articles, blogs, and posts inspire action. Only a select few cause you to stop, think, or even click.

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The Top 5 Robotics Trends You’ll See in 2018

Robotics technology has proven to evolve at a rapid pace. In 2015, Uber began testing the first of its self-driving cars, and in 2016 it launched 16 self-driving SUVs in San Francisco. With the innovations of today providing just a small glimpse into future advancements, the robotics industry eagerly has its sight set on 2018. As we roll into the new year, we’ve got our eye on five particular trends that we think could characterize the next robotics wave.

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Five ways to close the gender gap in FinTech

By Ashley Nagle Eknaian

It’s no secret that women in both banking and technology tend to be in the minority. When you combine those two fields into the phenomenon that is FinTech, “super minority” becomes a more accurate label. In recent years, organizations like Girls Who Code and Girls Who Invest have made a tremendous effort to encourage young women to take an interest and pursue careers in STEM fields. Supporting and championing these types of programs are vital to create meaningful change for the gender gap in the coming decades. However, we also need solutions that can benefit women currently in the workforce. Here are five things that can help increase gender diversity in FinTech today:

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