The Brandeis GPS blog

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

Tag: edtech

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

 

What’s next for EdTech

Education technology is constantly evolving alongside the development of new tools, processes and resources. Each year, an expert panel of community members publishes the NMC Horizon Report, which lays out the latest trends and developments in EdTech and identifies new impacts on learning, teaching, and creative inquiry.

This year’s key findings include:

  • In the short-term, a growing focus on measuring learning and new learning spaces;
  • In the mid-term, an increase in open educational resources and the rise of different forms of interdisciplinary studies; and
  • In the long-term, advancing cultures of innovation and cross-institution and cross-sector collaboration

The report predicts that analytics technologies and makerspaces will likely influence EdTech in 2019. Within the next five years and beyond, educators can expect to see the adoption of more adaptive learning technologies and artificial intelligence, mixed reality and robotics.

Be at the forefront of EdTech

Brandeis University is proud to offer master’s degrees for practitioners seeking to make an impact on the future of education technology:

MS in Instructional Design and Technology

MS in Strategic Analytics

MS in Robotic Software Engineering

Brandeis GPS programs are part-time, and 100% online. To learn more about our master’s degrees, request more information or contact the GPS office: 781-736-8787, gps@brandeis.edu.

Meet GPS Student Kara Noonan

Want to hear about the Brandeis GPS student experience straight from a firsthand source? Meet Kara Noonan, a current Brandeis GPS student enrolled in the instructional design and technology master’s program. Kara is currently an Associate Media Producer at Pearson.

Karen Wasnewsky - Brandeis GPS Online Education - Brandeis GPS Blog

When she decided to get a graduate degree, Kara knew she wanted an online program that combined instructional technology and instructional design.

So why Brandeis GPS?

“After a great deal of intense research, I discovered that the Brandeis program provided the ideal integration of edtech and instructional design that I searched for, “Noonan said.

So far, it seems like her research and final decision to attend Brandeis Graduate Professional Studies is paying off. The skills learned from the classroom and fellow classmates have helped Kara enhance her overall career at Pearson.

“I learned how to create a goal or outcome in order for a video to have a lasting effect on a learner. With this in mind, I was able to design videos in a more critical manner and assure that the video met a certain expectation.”

In addition to classwork, online discussions with classmates enabled Kara to gain an overall bigger picture perspective of the instructional design industry as a whole.

“One of my classmates uses a Pearson math lab in their school. Students were able to add their opinions and critiques about the product which provided positives and negatives to a relevant real world device.”

Student interactions like these prove to provide very valuable and eye opening information into real world issues.

Overall, Kara was able to make a smooth transition to the online experience.

“Some aspects are similar to traditional classroom work while others vary greatly. As a quiet student, I find it easier to participate in discussions in an online environment and do not have to deal with the nerves involved with speaking in class.”

 

This seamless adjustment and valuable learning that has already been gained at Brandeis GPS makes Kara quick to recommend this program to her coworkers.

“Having an instructional design background is extremely beneficial. The program provides specialization, helps to shape the way you think about organization, and aids in transitioning into the digital world.”

Not only has Kara felt a deep impact from the Instructional Design & Technology program, but her impact was felt in the classroom as well.

 “Kara is an exceptional instructional design student,” said program chair and instructor Brian Salerno. “She has the unique ability to immediately connect and apply the learning material to her own professional environment, and actively harnesses what she learns in order to continuously improve herself and her organization. Through sharing her insights and observations so generously, Kara promoted a more dynamic and interesting discussion among her classmates.”

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Inside Boston’s Ed-Tech Ecosystem: 8 Players to Watch

written by: Caroline Lyle, BostInno

To learn about our brand new Masters of Science in Online Instructional Design and Technology degree program, register for the next Virtual Open House this Wednesday, July 23rd at 7pm.  

The world doesn’t function as it did a decade ago. Everything from how we communicate, read articles, watch television, even how how we date, has been transformed by technology. It shouldn’t shock, then, that in this hyperconnected world where we walk around with encyclopedias in our pocket, how we learn is also evolving.

In recent years, online education has exploded, not only for the convenience it provides, but for the tremendous potential it presents. As a global source of knowledge and hub of connections, the web opens numerous opportunities to enhance learning. Emerging online programs and platforms have introduced new models for connecting teachers, students, and other stakeholders to optimize the learning experience.

The innovation is only beginning. Educational technology presents a goldmine of opportunity for both academics and entrepreneurs. For telltale evidence of ed-tech’s promising future, one need look no further than the astounding amount of capital being poured into the space. In just the last three months alone, investors have contributed more than $559 million into the ed-tech industry, and this past quarter, investments reached a record-breaking high.

“Investments exceeded $1.25 billion, marking the second straight year the ed-tech sector crossed the billion-dollar line,” BostInno reported.

Leading the ed-tech revolution is Boston. The city’s booming tech scene and renowned institutions of higher education have made Boston an incubator for ed-tech startups, many of which have expanded to reach students and teachers around the globe.

Go inside Boston’s ed-tech ecosystem and meet some of the most influential disruptors born here in the Hub. Some are fledgling startups; others established companies, but all are agents of change, leveraging technology to transform education as we know it.

1. edX

edX

Founded by Harvard and MIT ,edX is a massive online learning platform striving to increase access to education for everyone, everywhere. EdX makes Ivy League learning available to all by partnering with 32 higher education institutions including Stanford, Wellesley, UC Berkeley, and several schools outside the United States. Most recently, the company partnered with Facebook for the new initiative SocialEDU, bringing online education to the unconnected world starting with Rwanda. EdX also expanded the platform to Saudi Arabia earlier this month.

2. Boundless

Boundless

Most students are all too familiar with the exorbitant price of textbooks. Quite often, it’s an expense many simply can’t afford. Boundless believes the materials needed to learn should never be a luxury. In 2011, Boundless launched to democratize education by making textbooks affordable for all. Originally offering online textbooks, Boundless has expanded to offer a vast suite of cloud-powered educational resources for both teachers and students. A recent partnership will integrate Boundless’ content library into Top Hat’s cutting-edge, collaborative teaching platform, allowing teachers to edit and curate content in real-time. The company has raised a total of $10 million in venture funding and reaches more than 3 million students and educators.

3. LearnLaunch

LearnLaunch

LearnLaunch is a key catalyst driving Boston’s booming ed-tech scene. The nonprofit strives to support local ed-tech startups in New England, mostly through their accelerator program,LearnLaunchX, which graduated a fresh class of ed-tech startups in May. When visiting LearnLaunchX, Mayor Marty Walsh commented,”the future really is here in this room.”

4. Lexia Learning

While Boston’s edLexia Learning-tech boom is only a couple years old, one company was a pioneer in educational technology decades before the recent wave of startups. Headquartered in Concord, Massachusetts,Lexia Learning is a globally renowned reading technology company focused on improving students’ literacy. Since it was founded 29 years ago with private funding and grants obtained from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Lexia Learning has continually evolved, innovating the most cutting-edge ways to use technology to build students’ reading skills. In 2008, Lexia earned the EdNet Impact Award for outstanding contributions in education industry. In 2013, it was acquired by Rosetta Stone.

5. Panorama Education

Panorama Education leverages the power of Big Data to help schPanorama Educationools address pressing problems. Panorama provides a survey and analytics platform to conduct surveys either online or on paper and collect constructive feedback. Over 4,000 school districts, charter networks, and state governments use the platform to solve such issues as parent involvement, bullying prevention, school safety and student engagement. Last October, Panorama received $4 million from Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerberg’s organization Startup:Education and is using the funds to grow their team.

6. EverTrueEverTrue

EverTrue provides a better way for the educational community to connect. Their mobile platform not only serves as an alumni networking hub, but also enables institutions to tap into donor databases and easily fundraise. Following EverTrue’s graduation from Boston Techstars, the company raised $1.3 million, plus an additional $5.25 million in March of 2013. The growing company set up shop in a new office in the Seaport at the end of last year, and continues to show promising growth.

7. peerTransfer

peerTransfer is one of the fastest-growing companies in the Hub. The company saw 400 percent growth last year, expects 200 percent growth in 2014, and has raised a total of $21.2 million.

peerTransfer is on a mission topeerTransfer fix the unfair and broken international tuition payments system. Using peerTransfer, students can simply and securely pay for tuition and fees using their home currency. With so many students getting ripped off, peerTransfer fulfills an urgent need for both students and schools. The company now works with over 350 schools and is on track to process $1 billion this year.

8. Flashnotes

Flashnotes is an online peer-to-peer marketplace for buying and selling class study materials. After raising $1.5 million last year, Flashnotes has Flashnotesexpanded to include live video tutorials, offering another medium for students to improve their grades and/or make money. In the past year, the company has acquired Moolguides, NoteUtopia, and raised an additional $3.6 million. Over 200 schools are on Flashnotes platform and the company continues to experience high growth month after month

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