Brandeis GPS Blog

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The Symbiotic Relationship of Course Analytics with Evidence-based Design

Evidence-based assessment design (ECD) provides a conceptual framework for identifying observable evidence that supports the measurement of unobservable constructs, defined as as knowledge, skills and attributes by Mislay and his colleagues in their 2004 article A Brief Introduction to Evidence-Centered Design. Course analytics is micro-level learning analytics that validates the assessment outcomes and elicit desirable behaviors via harnessing learning data. 

In the original ECD framework formalized by Mislay and colleagues (2003), the initial phase is to define what to measure in terms of KSA (Knowledge, Skills and Attributes). Since the KSA cannot be observed directly, we need to come up with the measurable, which can constitute evidence about KSA variables. The next step is to identify tasks or situations that can elicit observable evidence about latent KSAs. In some cases, attributes are referred to as ‘psychological constructs.’ The noncognitive factors, such as engagement and perseverance, are often considered as strong predictors of academic outcomes.

Although the fundamental ideas of ECD framework remain solid, the current digital revolution has changed the content of each model within the framework, which introduced new possibilities of what evidence we are able to observe, what data we are able to track, how we are able to mine the data (EDM) and make inferences of it (LA).

Here is an example of demonstrating the conceptual linkages between observable evidence and inferences in the rapidly-evolved digital world.

The data used was fabricated from group communications, which consists of directional weighted links that represent a direct message from one to another, message to the entire group and length of a reply. The tasks are composed of reflective writing and knowledge sharing. The task model elicits the evidence from individuals in response to given prompts about their understanding of topics. The technologies support us to harvest and harness the evidence, which otherwise, could not be fulfilled. Temporal networks are network representations that flow over time. In educational settings, they are useful for visualizing how a learning community develops or evolves through time. The time indices are an ordered sequence. This ordering can reveal information about what is occurring in the network through time. Below is an animated temporal network diagram, I generated in R using the fabricated data, that shows the dynamic of interactions over several weeks. Each node represents an individual, the links denote sending a message from one to another or addressing to the entire group, the color corresponds to the sender.

Written by: Jing Qi, Ed.D., Faculty Learning Experience Design

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

Alumni Spotlight: Paulita Chartier

Alumni Spotlight

Program: Digital Marketing and Design

Graduation Year: 2021

Paulita is from Dry Prong, Louisiana. In her free time, she enjoys reading, photography, hiking, and bike riding.

Q: Why did you choose Brandeis GPS?

A: I searched for months for the perfect digital strategy program. I wanted to learn SEO, content creation, digital marketing strategy, social media, and anything else that I could use to hit the ground running in starting a new job. I wanted to learn all the things I would have learned had I still been working but missed out due to being out of the industry for five years. And I wanted to learn it from a highly respected institution that showed good job results after graduation.

After months of research, I chose Brandeis University Graduate Professional Studies’ Master of Science in Digital Marketing and Design program. The program requires courses that directly meet the needs of students interested in becoming professionals in my intended career, which is that of a digital strategy and media expert. This is a job in high demand and compliments my 30 plus years in mass communication. Many programs offer certificates in digital media; however, I wished to bolster myself with as much education and expertise as possible, making a master’s preferable to a certificate program.

I thoroughly researched a plethora of master’s programs. My criteria included class relevance to demand, school reputation, and accessibility via online programs. Although I uncovered master’s programs targeted towards learning digital strategy, the school that came up heads above the rest according to my criteria was far and away Brandeis University’s GPS program.

Q: What inspired you to choose your field of study?

A: I’ve worked for 30 years in mass communication, primarily public relations, copywriting, design, and photography. I have truly loved it. One of the very best parts of my career was learning innovative technologies. The Mac debuted in 1984 and so did I, having graduated in 1984 with my Bachelors of Arts in Journalism. So I’ve grown up with the technologies as they have improved. My industry is zooming towards digital media and I wanted to become an expert in this field, so I chose to obtain a Master’s in Digital Marketing and Design.

Q: Did you enjoy your experience at Brandeis GPS? 

A: I tremendously enjoyed my time at Brandeis. The classes were the right size, the instructors were inspiring. The course material was excellent and prepared me for the new world of digital marketing and communications. 

Q: What have you been working on since graduation?

A: I plan to freelance with my own company, Chartier Digital Strategies. Mostly, I want to gain employment with a firm specializing in digital work and learn as much as I can from that organization. I don’t really plan on retiring until very late in life. I’m not sure what I’d do with myself!

Q: What advice would you give to incoming students?

A: Download all learning material as early as possible. Scan the expectations for the week. Then set a schedule and stick with it. You don’t want to fall behind. Don’t hesitate at all to ask instructors for help or advice. With me, they were more than helpful and they were kind! There are no stupid questions.

Q: What class did you find to be the most applicable to the work you do today?

A: Geez, it’s hard to say which has been the most applicable class. They all were very informative and often fun. The required classes kept getting better as far as being relevant in the real world.

Alumni Spotlight: Gaston Tchicourel

Program: Digital Innovation for FinTech

Graduation Year: 2020

Current Position: Information Technology Advisor at World Bank Group

Gastón came into the Digital Innovation for FinTech degree program with a strong background in both software development and technology consulting and management.

Q: What were your most valuable takeaways from the Digital Innovation for FinTech degree?
A: There were many reasons for why I enrolled in the Digital Innovation for FinTech degree program; however, I would say the main reason was to keep myself up-to-date with the current trends in the business. I have spent the majority of my professional career working on the technology side of the banking and financial services industries, so this program was an obvious choice toward that goal. And it definitely served that purpose. Not only did the degree serve as a refresher of both financial and technical concepts, but it also covered many other topics that span from regulatory frameworks to the future of finance.

Q: What was your favorite course from the Digital Innovation for FinTech degree?
A: There were many interesting courses throughout the program. It is difficult to choose just one so I will highlight a few favorites:

RDFT 130: Launching FinTech Ventures
In this course we covered and analyzed some of the best and most prominent business cases and success stories in the FinTech field. This is key knowledge for anyone looking to become an entrepreneur.

RDFT 160: Python Programming
As a software developer turned technology consultant and manager, taking this course felt like a break in my routine, like being a kid playing with Legos again! I can acknowledge that this is not the same for everyone.

Q: Do you have any advice for students currently working toward completing the FinTech degree?
A: Having completed the program, the best advice I can offer for current students is as follows:

Be curious: Don’t focus on just passing the courses. Read beyond the class requirements. Do your research online. Learn about success stories beyond the ones covered during the weekly sessions.

Build your network: Engage with your classmates and instructors. Attend industry events, both online and in-person. Stay connected on LinkedIn.

Stay sharp and stay involved: FinTech is moving much faster than other traditional industries. You have to be quick and flexible to surf this wave. Focus on data, learn about different DLTs and Blockchain technologies and crypto assets. This is the future of finance.

Q: What are your best hopes for your career in the future?
A: I’m hoping to get much more into crypto and, from a professional career perspective, complete my transition into the FinTech start-up space soon. I am hoping to jumpstart my own FinTech endeavor next…I’m working on a few ideas that I actually first thought about during the FinTech degree program. These ideas served as the core tenents of my capstone project.

2022 UXPA Boston Fair

On May 25th, Brandeis University was pleased to sponsor the annual UXPA Boston Fair. The event, held virtually on Zoom and Kumospace, offered students and career changers the opportunity to receive mentorship and guidance around career paths in the fields of user experience design, research, development, information architecture, and content strategy.

The fair was especially useful to students currently enrolled in Brandeis GPS’s User-Centered Design program. The online master’s program, which offers both full-time and part-time options, allows students to study at the intersection of psychology, creativity and technology, thus enabling them to gain a deeper understanding of user experience (UX) and engagement principles. 

It is clear from student testimonials that the UXPA Fair was a success on multiple fronts, offering students a wide range of learning experiences to complement their studies at Brandeis GPS.

Student Crystable Rangel found the career panel to be particularly interesting, stating that “each panelist had a diverse background and brought a unique perspective.” Rangel walked away from the panel with a new understanding of the importance of mentorship, saying that, “while I am learning a lot in my program, it has become very clear to me that I will also need a mentor to help with my growth and transition.”

Aashish Maskey, who attended the event from her home in Hawaii, also gained valuable insight from the career panel. She says, “It was great to have some of my questions answered in the group mentoring. I am transitioning into UX with previous experience with healthcare, clinical applications and background in art. It was good to know that some of the skills and knowledge that I already have could be my advantage in breaking into the field of UX.”

According to Gabriele Burke, breakout sessions were “the highlight” of the event, with “very knowledgeable instructors and very interactive sessions.” She says, “Instructors answered all my questions and took a lot of time, which was good for the small group sizes.” This helped Burke to gain useful information about preparing “specialized and tactical resumes.”

Other GPS students made valuable connections during the networking part of the fair. Student Abigail Grinberg stated, “I found it to be valuable to connect with others in the UX industry and hear about their varying experiences. Especially since I am new to the field, I appreciated hearing advice on how others went about finding their first UX jobs. It also was interesting to learn about the types of projects people are working on and the many applications of UX/UI.”

To read more about the learning and networking opportunities offered by Brandeis GPS, visit our website.

Faculty Spotlight: Digital Innovation for FinTech

Faculty: Mike Storiale

Program: Digital Innovation for FinTech

Course: RDFT 101 The New Economy: Global Disruption and the Emergence of FinTech

Education: University of Hartford, M.B.A.

Bio: Mike Storiale is AVP, Innovation Development for Synchrony, the largest provider of private label and co-brand credit cards in the country. At Synchrony, Mike focuses on building the future of technology for their clients and cardholders. Prior to Synchrony, Mike was VP, Digital Banking Manager for Guilford Savings Bank in CT where he developed, implemented and managed all customer-facing technology. His responsibilities spanned the Bank’s digital properties, including online and mobile banking, digital acquisition channels, the corporate Website, voice response unit and the call center. Mike received his Masters of Business Administration from the University of Hartford, and his undergraduate degree in Business with a concentration in International Business and Marketing from Wagner College in New York.

Why is this course important or valuable to a FinTech student?

This course will give FinTech students a robust understanding of traditional banking and finance, as well as the major events that got us here. We pair that with exploration of the emerging and disruptive environments, bringing it all together to help students learn how to build competitive FinTech product strategies.

Why do you enjoy teaching this course? 

This course changes every year, and the environment of FinTech is evolving so quickly that students are often learning things that are happening in real time.

Anything else you would like to share with a student interested in enrolling in the course?

This course will help you learn how to think strategically about building new products, and is an exciting way to grow in the FinTech industry.

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

Brandeis GPS Student Spotlight

Student Spotlight

Refaya Priya ‘23

Lowell, Massachusetts

Sales and Marketing Coordinator @ Intertek Small Business Owner @ Renaz Stylofy Founder and Dance Director @ TDS

Program: MS in Digital Marketing and Design

Refaya is a Bangladeshi-American student living in Lowell, MA, with her parents and younger sister. Aside from her professional experience, she loves to do community service. She served as the youngest Cultural Secretary of one of the oldest Bangladeshi organizations in the New England area for the 2018-2019 term. It was a very successful term, and she was also awarded for her work. 

Refaya has also been dancing since the age of four and earned many National and International awards before she immigrated here with her family in 2014. She has since continued to dance and has a team of 30 people at present. In her spare time, Refaya enjoys spending time at the dance school she owns and spending quality time with her family.

Get to know Refaya Priya! 

Why did you choose Brandeis GPS?

Brandeis has a great reputation. It’s an honor to get accepted into a prestigious university.

What inspired you to choose your field of study?

I work in the marketing department at Intertek and run my small business part-time. We live in a digital era where digital marketing and design would help me in both the prospective side and the technical side of marketing. 

I also want to promote the work of my dance school outside MA to showcase our creative works. My team was the first Bangladeshi team to be invited out of state to perform in NY and CT. Digital marketing plays a huge role in today’s world, and any field must maintain the best of the best social image.

How have you enjoyed your experience at Brandeis thus far? 

Everyone has been so helpful. I am very much delighted.

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

I am looking forward to exciting opportunities and gaining more insights into the new era of digital marketing. 

What are your plans for after graduation?

Higher level management positions and/or become one of the best young entrepreneurs taking my small business to reach new heights 😀

What advice would you give to incoming students?

Research the market where you want to study and only apply when you find a subject curious and interesting. This is because you enjoy learning when you find the field interesting. It’s like finding your ikigai. 

Faculty Spotlight: User-Centered Design

Faculty: Amy Deschenes

Program: User-Centered Design

Course: RUCD 140 Research Methods

Education: Simmons University, MLIS

Bio: Amy Deschenes is a leader in UX and digital accessibility in higher education. She is currently the Head of UX & Digital Accessibility at Harvard Library where she works with librarians and archivists on digital projects. In 2015 she lead the establishment of the User Research Center, Harvard’s only usability and digital accessibility lab. She speaks about her work on a regular basis and has presented at conferences like Ladies That UX & UXPA. In addition to Research Methods, she also teaches RUCD 175 Universal Design & Digital Accessibility. You can see examples of her work on https://amydeschenes.com/.

Why is this course important or valuable to a UCD student?

This course gives you the opportunity to get real hands-on experience with a variety of UX research methods. You get to apply these concepts to a real research question or design problem of your choosing. It introduces you to key qualitative and quantitative research methodologies, including surveys, interviews, and usability testing. You also get to practice aspects of project management through your coursework. Even if you’re not intending to be a researcher full-time, this course will give you insight into why research is so important to user-centered design.

Why do you enjoy teaching this course?

This class is fun because students get to select their own research topics and I learn about subject areas outside of my own expertise through their work. In the past students have completed projects about how the pandemic impacted exercise preferences, preferences around video game player styles, and how pet owners find help online. I love being able to lead students through the process of applying the research methods in a real-world context.

For more information on the User-Centered Design MS or other online master’s degrees available at GPS, please visit brandeis.edu/gps.

Faculty Spotlight: Strategic Analytics

Faculty: Travis Dawry

Program: Strategic Analytics MS

Course: RSAN 150 Data Quality and Governance

Education: Brandeis University, M.S.

Bio: Travis earned a B.A. in Political Science with a focus on International Relations and Comparative Politics from the University of Central Florida in 2009. Since then he has worked in a variety of government organizations, most recently as a Library Specialist for Broward County, located in in South Florida. His language of choice for analytics, and everything else, is R. Travis earned a Master of Science in Strategic Analytics from Brandeis University in the Spring of 2016 and is now an instructor at the Brandeis Rabb School. He currently splits his time between South Florida and Christiansburg, Virginia, where he lives with a veterinarian and a bunch of cats.

About the course-

In RSAN 150 Data Quality and Governance we focus on understanding what data is, how it is used, what it represents, and how it is managed in organizations. This is one of my favorite courses to teach because students from diverse backgrounds each bring a different perspective on the challenges and opportunities presented by the underlying topics. Agnostic of industry, if someone works with data, we explore how their role works within a larger strategy.

 

For more information on the Strategic Analytics MS or other online master’s degrees available at GPS, please visit brandeis.edu/gps.

Improving Technical Knowledge to Make Better Decisions Under Uncertainty.

In 2018, I co-founded AccuTennis, a computer vision company, with two electrical engineers. This endeavor is the most technically complex in my career. My experiences writing software and managing product development included a situation at a prior company where I made a very expensive mistake by directing the engineering team to develop an application, which made business sense. An enterprise customer demanded a solution and the engineering team’s primary objection was one of understanding the ROI. I made the case that this enterprise customer would renew its contract and we could upsell this service to our other enterprise customers. However, we ended up delivering a poorly performing solution because of some technical limitations that I should have uncovered during our debate over what to work on. Had I been better informed, I would have been able to ask the right questions to uncover some important technical debt, which inhibited the success of this project.

For my current venture, I needed to better understand the technical foundations of the products so I could make better decisions as CEO. Brandeis was one of the first places I looked for continuing education because I found the two other degrees that I earned there to be valuable (the university offers everything – I also met my wife at Brandeis!).

In general, a tech startup has three technical challenges: the underlying tech, its user experience, and measurement. The underlying tech is the most important and least appreciated because the core tech is often hidden behind the product’s user interface. In our case, we utilize raspberry pi-based hardware to track people and tennis balls in real time with a low margin of error. On top of this core technology are two user interfaces: (1) a TV screen that displays a player’s output in real time, and (2) a mobile app that allows users to authenticate themselves and select what games to play. Our system automatically generates reports that detail what each user (i.e. admin, coach, and player) does. When we implement any change, I filter the work through a user experience focus, which boils down to “does this allow AccuTennis to easily deliver real-time feedback that is useful better or worse?”. Any other consideration is a distance second. 

If we succeed in the above, we have a chance at growing our customer base, and if we do not, we will go out of business. We are a startup with limited funding an do not have many chances to recover from a major miscalculation on what we develop. This brings home the need to understand how the technical challenges relate to our business objectives. 

I found the curriculum within the Masters of Software Engineering, particularly the capstone class, useful in tying together (1) gathering business and technical requirements, (2) understanding stakeholders, and (3) building & delivering technology. Also, some engineers that I worked with in previous roles were snobs about only listening to people with Computer Science and Software Engineering degrees, so now they will.

Written by: Adam Sher

Software Engineering MS, class of 2021

Faculty Spotlight: Digital Marketing and Design

Faculty: Garrett Gillin, MBA

Program: Digital Marketing and Design MS

Course: RDMD 135 Conversion Rate Optimization

Education: Drexel University, MBA

Bio: Garrett Gillin, MBA, is a Co-founder and Principal at 215 Marketing, a 2020 INC 5000 company and Google Premier Partner agency, located in Philadelphia, PA, where he oversees the development and execution of integrated digital marketing initiatives with a concentration on programmatic advertising, marketing automation, and advanced analytics.

Why is this course important or valuable to a Digital Marketing and Design student?

Oftentimes in marketing and design we are so focused on the tactics, that we lose focus of the bigger picture. The CRO course helps students take a step back and look at the full customer journey and identify ways to grow a business through small, incremental improvements at various touch points.

Why do you enjoy teaching this course? 

When I developed this course in collaboration with the department chair, Steve Dupree, we wanted to create something that was relevant and actionable to all businesses regardless of type and size. My favorite part of teaching this course is that students often can use what they learn immediately in their day-to-day jobs and develop a more holistic view of marketing and design that they can apply throughout their careers.

Anything else you would like to share with a student interested in enrolling in the course? 

This course may be a bit different from other courses you have taken. We use your current place-of-work (or a business you are looking to start) as the basis of each week’s assignment, so you can directly apply the learning to the company and industry you work in. Students have found this approach to feel more organic and actionable, while making the content more relatable.

 

For more information on the Digital Marketing and Design MS or other online master’s degrees available at GPS, please visit brandeis.edu/gps.

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