The Brandeis GPS blog

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

Tag: elearning (page 1 of 2)

Molecular Biology, Genetics, and Disease

Biotechnology and pharmaceutical organizations are increasingly viewing bioinformatics as an integral part of their research processes. Biomedical industries are seeking to make use of vast amounts of genomic data to produce complex and accurate biological models.

Brandeis GPS will be offering Molecular Biology, Genetics, and Disease  as a part-time, fully online course this October. The 10-week course will introduce students to the basic concepts of molecular, cell, and developmental biology. It will cover classic genetics, from Mendelian inheritance to quantitative and complex traits, associations and population genetics. It will address the anatomy and function of genomes from humans and model organisms. Using the Human Genome Projects as an example, students will learn sequencing and mapping technologies. Basic sequence analysis methods will be introduced, along with techniques to navigate genome browsers and other relevant databases.

At the end of the course, students will be able to:

  • Navigate genome browsers and databases relevant to genetics and genomics.
  • Analyze pedigrees and apply genetics to identify disease associations.
  • Use techniques of physical and genetic mapping and sequencing.
  • Use comparative genomics to detect homologous sequences within and between organisms and to define evolutionary relationships.
  • Predict possible consequences of mutations and genetic variation within and outside of genes.
  • Use examples from developmental biology, human disease and immunology to illustrate genetic control mechanisms and mutations.

At Brandeis GPS, you can take up to two courses before enrolling in one of our 12 online master’s degrees. If you’re interested in exploring the MS in Bioinformatics, or would like to explore molecular biology to fill a bioinformatics skills gap, contact the  GPS office for more information or to request a syllabus: 781-736-8787, gps@brandeis.edu, or submit your information.

The Evolution of Technology for Financial Services

Woman in front of buildingThe increasing use of computational power, digital assets, and big data has ushered in a new era of innovation in the industry. Financial Technology, or FinTech, has advanced diverse areas such as payments, digital ledgers, foreign exchange, lending, insurance, investment advice, and wealth management. To understand these changes, we need to understand the application of technology and the economic value of these changes to the financial services industry as well as the agents catalyzing these changes. 

During our Fall 2 session starting in October, Brandeis GPS will be offering FinTech: The Evolution of Technology for Financial Services. The 10-week, fully online course will explore FinTech as a solution to challenges facing an inter-connected global marketplace. It will address the evolution of the financial industry landscape, the challenges and opportunities this new era presents, and the drivers behind the change.

Throughout the course, students will debate FinTech innovation and entrepreneurship in the financial services sector through a combination of online discussions, case studies, group projects and guest bloggers. They will analyze well-known FinTech companies and discuss value propositions, competition, business models, and technology. They will examine recent trends and explore areas that are ripe for disruption in the industry.

Upon completion of the course, students will be able to:

  • Explain the evolution of financial technology and its current relationship to the horizontal integration of accessibility to technology, decrease in cost in computing, and access to data
  • Discern the relationship between the advancements in financial technology and the benefits and concerns that these bring to the individual and to institutions
  • Compare current trends in financial technology to emerging trends and assess the opportunities and risks
  • Apply theories of artificial intelligence or machine learning to decision making and risk mitigation and discuss their merits and drawbacks
  • Develop a proposal that determines a currently unidentified need that can be empowered or met through financial technology

At Brandeis GPS, you can take up to two courses before enrolling in one of our 12 Master’s degree programs. If you’re interested in exploring the MS in Digital Innovation for FinTech, or would like to explore technology for FinTech as part of your own professional development, contact the  GPS office for more information or to request a syllabus: 781-736-8787, gps@brandeis.edu, or submit your information.

The influence of laws and ethics on digital learning

Woman and man looking at computerDigital learning is becoming increasingly common in classrooms of all ages. As K-12 and higher ed classrooms explore innovative online learning technologies and techniques, the modern workplace can also adapt instructional content to online and mobile platforms for learning and development. According to eLogic Learning, in 2015 the Learning Management System market was worth somewhere around $165 billion. At a 5% increase every year, that puts it on track to hit almost $240 billion by 2023.

Instructional designers work to use design thinking, evidence-based science, and pedagogical principles to develop adaptive and accessible digital learning experiences. Nowadays, that includes navigating the evolving legal landscape and ethical code that goes along with it.

Brandeis GPS will be offering Digital Ethics & The Legal Landscape of Instructional Design during our 10-week long Fall 2 session, starting in October. The fully online course will explore the legal issues arising from intellectual property, copyright law (including the fair use exception), the TEACH Act, and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. It will also look at federal laws related to learners with disabilities and help students to develop strategies to ensure accessibility for these online learners.

During the course, students will also examine how to best protect online learner privacy rights of education records in compliance with the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). Students will apply these laws to realistic scenarios that may arise in the design setting and develop best practices to minimize risk of liability.

After examining the laws in place, students will explore the ethical challenges that arise in practice, including the creation of instructional materials that support a diverse learner audience, implications of the “digital divide,” and conflicts of interest stemming from opportunities for personal gain outside of the employment relationship. They will compare and contrast legal standards with ethical values with respect to the development and implementation of online instructional materials and use their knowledge to design their own ethical code relevant to their professional goals.

At Brandeis GPS, you can take up to two courses before enrolling in one of our 12 online Master’s degree programs. If you’re interested in exploring the MS in Instructional Design and Technology or would like to learn more about digital ethics as part of your own professional development, contact the  GPS office for more information or to request a syllabus: 781-736-8787, gps@brandeis.edu, or submit your information.

Meet Theo Groh: Founding Partner of Wheelhouse Web and Student of Brandeis GPS

Business owner and matriculated student at Brandeis GPS uses knowledge from Master’s program to grow his business and help achieve long-term professional goals.

Theo Groh is a matriculated student in the Brandeis Graduate Professional Studies (GPS) Master of Science in Digital Marketing and Design. Theo was hesitant to go back to school while working full-time growing his business, Wheelhouse Web – a web, communications, and marketing solutions company based in New Hampshire. Theo is three classes into his degree, and is already seeing GPS help with his long-term professional goals:

  • To build his new company into a thriving and financially stable company that can provide full time employment, benefits, and a growing return to himself and his business partners.
  • To develop his marketing skills to truly have his company be a one stop shop for digital marketing.
  • To grow his company to the point that allows them to take only the clients they absolutely want to take and allows them to work with clients promoting social or environmental change.

Headshot of Theo GrohTheo is among many students who are full-time professionals that are looking to enhance their careers with the benefits of a high-quality graduate education in niche fields with the convenience and flexibility of online learning designed for working professionals.

He has already made progress toward his professional goals, and says that, “So far, GPS has helped me expand the range of digital marketing services I offer and boost my confidence in my skill set. I believe it has also helped strengthen my professional resume, which has helped attract and retain clients.”

What first caught Theo’s attention about GPS was that it is completely online, allowing him to work full-time, is practical and relevant to the work he wants to do, and doesn’t require GRE or standardized test scores.

“I really liked that the degree was specifically in Digital Marketing and Design, not just in Marketing or an MBA with a marketing focus,” said Groh. “That was important because if I was going to go back to school, I wanted a degree that was very specific to the field I was in, very relevant to the work I was doing, and could help me in my business by helping certify to clients that I knew what I was doing.”

GPS offers 13 different master’s Programs in professional fields:

Theo says, “I think what I value the most about GPS is that I am in a class full of working professionals in my field being taught by an expert working professional in my field.”

GPS instructors are industry leaders who also work full-time outside of GPS, bringing real-world experiences and knowledge to their classrooms. And because class sizes are capped at 20 for GPS classes, students like Theo can network within their classes to build connections within their fields.

Before founding his new company in July 2017, Theo worked in New Hampshire politics, independent school admissions, outreach, and marketing. His education at Brandeis GPS has also enriched his political volunteer commitments and outside hobbies. Since starting his most recent class, Writing for Digital Environments, Theo has taken on a long-term personal goal of online food writing, committing to do a monthly blog post on local New Hampshire food and drinks for Stay-Work-Play New Hampshire.

Theo’s experiences in politics, which may seem unrelated to Digital Marketing and Design, informed his work ethic and gave him experiences that help him bring diverse experience to his business and his classes. He says of his time working in politics,

“During that time, I was working 14-18-hour days 7 days a week for months on end during campaign season… I learned that I had it in me to do that kind of work. Like doing endurance training, my experience working in politics showed me what I was made of and taught me what my capabilities and limits were. If I could work long hours in an extremely high-pressure environment for low pay in politics, often for challenging bosses, I knew I was capable of working hard and succeeding in almost any environment. It taught me not to be afraid of hard work and gave me the confidence I needed to start my own business.”

Theo’s business “aims to be the trusted web design and digital marketing choice of dynamic small businesses, striving non-profits, and thriving schools.”

In order to help him reach his goals and the goals of his company, his MS in Digital Marketing and Design at GPS offers the following program outcomes:

  • Build and actively manage digital marketing campaigns across social media, website and mobile platforms.
  • Have a comprehensive working knowledge of digital and social media platforms.
  • Write appropriate content for online and digital audiences.
  • Develop thorough digital marketing campaigns that integrate multiple channels.
  • Track results of digital advertising through analytics tools and use the data to inform future marketing decisions.
  • Use advanced media tools to enhance digital strategies.
  • Communicate the value of digital marketing as it relates to an organization’s overall marketing strategy.

Theo has found that his class assignments help his real-world experiences in business, and says, “I really love the assignments where we have to pick existing companies and talk about how they do on a particular aspect of marketing. I think it’s a great way to learn, and it helps me with my company because a big part of what we do with our small business clients is going in and analyzing what they are currently doing for digital marketing and providing them with advice and services to improve their marketing. I also like the assignment we have in [Writing for Digital Environments] of picking an organization or business that needs help with their marketing. I think it’s a great challenge, something I love to do in my business, and this assignment is helping me think about the best ways of doing that.”

Not only have his GPS classes enhanced his professional life already, but Theo’s professional experiences have enhanced his learning. In his GPS classes, he engages in discussions with professionals at varying levels of their careers in the Digital Marketing and Design field, allowing for rich learning from instructors and peers.

Content contributed by Digital Marketing and Design student Lily Gardner with permission.

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.

Set Your GPS, the Next Stop is Your Dream Job

A Boston-area native finds Brandeis GPS Digital Marketing and Design program course offerings align best with her professional goals.

Brittany Sullivan grew up in Norwood, MA about 25 minutes outside of Boston. It’s also about 17 minutes from the Reebok International Headquarters, a place Brittany has wanted to work at for as long as she can remember.

Brittany Sullivan Brittany set her sights on becoming the next digital marketing manager at Reebok, something she would need to work very hard for. But that hard work is not without its rewards, including better job prospects and a higher annual salary. According to a 2015 Georgetown University study called “The Economic Value of College Majors”: “College graduates with a bachelor’s degree earn an average annual salary of $61,000 over the course of their career, while those with a graduate degree earn $78,000 annually.” With undergraduate degrees becoming more common, a master’s degree can really give you added skills and more confidence to pursue and land your dream job.

Some of the subjects Brittany felt passionate about weren’t offered during her undergraduate degree in marketing. Her college offered more generic marketing classes that didn’t focus on digital media. She researched a few different programs, but found the list of courses offered by Brandeis GPS to be the most focused on her professional goals.

Why Enroll at Brandeis GPS?

Brandeis GPS works around your schedule. There are many students currently enrolled who also work a full-time job, just like Brittany. Because Brandeis GPS offers part-time online classes, students can work full time and study when it’s convenient for them. Not sure if a master’s program is for you? Or are you worried about the increased workload? Brandeis GPS will let you take two classes as a trial before officially applying to the program. This can help a potential student gauge if he/she will be able to continue working a full-time job and attend class in-person or online. Recent college grads who are new to the workforce might not be ready to work and take classes at the same time.

Brittany knew she was interested in marketing, but things can change. Brandeis GPS offers 12 master’s degrees, from software engineering to project management. Brittany had the freedom to change and not have to leave the GPS program. But she was concerned about working a full-time job and going to school. In fact, she was all set to take two classes, but after meeting with her student adviser, she decided to start with one and see how it went.

Need Directions?

Everyone learns in different ways and at different speeds. There are a lot of questions to ask yourself before getting a master’s degree at any school, like how long you intend on working in your chosen field, or if there are any financial concerns. Student advisers can help answer these questions and more. Let them be your guide through this exciting transition into higher education.

The GPS program offers small classes, giving the instructor more time for 1-on-1 interaction. Every instructor has virtual office hours or can meet virtually by appointment.

For students who have never taken an online class, the structure can seem foreign at first and maybe a little intimidating. Brittany could continue working at her job, thanks to the flexibility that online classes offer.  GPS faculty are trained to teach online, so that you can focus on learning. In addition to extra training, professors are active professionals in their fields to ensure you are receiving the most up-to-date information and instruction. Even during online classes, students are encouraged to comment on their peers’ work, some assignments also will require students to work as a group.

The Road Ahead

“We should not judge people by their peak of excellence; but by the distance they have traveled from the point where they started.”
― Henry Ward Beecher

By the end of Brittany’s graduate program, she will be one step closer to her dream job at Reebok. She will be a valuable employee because she invested in her future.

This is Brittany’s first course at Brandeis and there will be many more. She knows she is on the right path with the Brandeis GPS program.

Content contributed by Digital Marketing and Design student Andrew Scarella with permission.

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.

Challenge Accepted: This Student Chose to Ride the Wave to Overcome Tragedy

Enjoying the flexibility of GPS courses, a Brandeis employee balances online graduate school with her other passions.

The ocean waves – their swooshing sound, their sparkle in the distance – are soothing to her eyes and mind. Gazing at the momentum of each wave as they crash against the shore offers a sense of serenity to it. The seemingly endless horizon breeds purity that helps take her away from what life’s struggles might have brought her. And it is with this meditative enjoyment of nature’s raw beauty that she finds complacency in life. As each wave crawls up the shore to makes its mark on the duney sand, it represents an accomplishment that which she is proud of.

Victoria Felson in Maine

Meet Victoria Felson: beachgoer and student at Brandeis Graduate Professional Studies (GPS).

Take One.

Victoria has a simplistic mentality that she garnered after an unfortunate tragedy she and her family suffered eight years ago. It was not easy at first to pursue a graduate degree when trying to overcome life-altering, personal distress. Her first attempt at grad school washed up quickly like a small wave that barely makes a ripple in the ocean. The ambition and desire was there, but Victoria’s life still had not quite settled down. She did not give up then though.

With each day there are many more waves to catch and grab hold of, many opportunities to embrace. As some waves reach their crest and dive back into the ocean, they have an almost inviting look. They crash back into the ocean with a sense of hopefulness and gleam the possibility of success. One day, Victoria saw a wave and did not take her eyes off of it. She saw herself diving back in with the wave headfirst, arms overhead, and with a bright smile on her face. It was time to earn her Master’s degree.

Take Two.

After learning from her co-workers that Brandeis GPS offers 100% online degrees, Victoria knew the program was a strong fit. Positive feedback from others already enrolled in the Digital Marketing and Design program reeled her in to take advantage of the free courses as a Brandeis employee. In reviewing other MBA programs, she noticed that they tended to offer only live classes at scheduled times during the week, and most of the student were full-time. Scheduled class times were not an option for Victoria, so the flexible online setting that Brandeis GPS offers has allowed her to balance school with work and her social life. Thanks to the ability to complete her degree as a part-time student as well, Victoria can still frequent Crane Beach in Ipswich, MA and fit schoolwork into her schedule comfortably. Considering a day away at the beach is like a vacation to her, she is not willing to compromise on that one. Victoria is pleased that she been able to further herself while still enjoy her passions in life.

As an older staff member with only an undergraduate degree, Victoria knows she needs to learn and acquire new skills so her background is not outdated. The real perk is that should Victoria decide to take a different path with Brandeis GPS, she still has until the end of her second course to matriculate into a program and still be able to apply the courses. The other beauty of Brandeis GPS is the integration between the programs. Many courses in various programs intersect with each other so Victoria is gaining a diverse skill set that can be applied to her work in a multi-faceted manner.

Life’s Other Pleasures.

Aside from the beach, some of Victoria’s other interests are walking in state parks, doing yoga, going to the pool in her condo complex, and tending to her patio garden filled with perennials. She enjoys being challenged by what perennials bloom in the sun, not requiring much maintenance and showing brilliant colors, just as her classwork challenges her to remain current with her skills and knowledge in the growing digital world. With the courses taught by professionals actively working in their respective fields, Victoria is gaining relevant expertise to apply to her work. As a senior support professional to the Vice President of alumni relations in the Institutional Advancement Division at Brandeis University, she has done some digital marketing in the past and plans to in the future. As she progresses with her courses though, she plans to find a job in marketing to directly apply the learned concepts on a regular basis. Victoria is confident that her Brandeis degree will present herself as a marketable candidate for employers that offer higher paying positions. Maybe she will look to expand her garden at that point, buy a house or merely enjoy the occasional overnight stay near Crane Beach with her boyfriend.

Nature’s beauty truly lures Victoria in to learn more, both in life in general and about herself. She uses nature as a catalyst to reflect and continue onward and upward. And progress she has! In a famous line by Frederick Douglass, “If there is no struggle, there is no progress.” Life is not always quite as sympathetic as one might like to think. Some of us are challenged in ways – mentally and emotionally – that we do not want to be. But it is with these unfortunate circumstances that we are given the opportunity to learn things about ourselves that we might not know were true. Victoria used her tragedy as motivation to press the reset button and embark on the exciting challenge of pursuing her Master’s degree with Brandeis GPS. A flexible class schedule, experienced faculty, and applicable coursework have all given her the balance in life that she has been seeking for some time.

Take Three.

When asked if she would have chosen Brandeis University given the opportunity to start over again, Victoria said, “I’m very satisfied with GPS. If all things were the same, yes, I’d choose the same school.” Victoria is gaining more fulfillment in her life, both professionally and personally, since beginning to take courses with Brandeis GPS. The current of her life is a steady flow nowadays. The horizon is looking brighter and the ocean a bit calmer. Victoria is still gazing at that wave and will continue until she walks across the stage, degree in hand.

Content contributed by  Digital Marketing and Design student Casey Ducinski with permission. 

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.

“What’s an instructional designer?”

By Lance Eaton

Lance Eaton - Brandeis GPS Online Education - Brandeis GPS BlogThat’s always the first question I get when I tell people that I am an instructional designer (an ID for those of us “in the know”).

It all started when I was 6 years old, and my dad asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I peered up into his face and said with an earnest seriousness that no child should muster, “I want to be an instructional designer.”

Continue reading

Online learning: your questions, answered

According to a recent National Center for Education Statistics report on fall 2013 higher education enrollments, more than 670,000 students pursued a degree using online coursework. Where you one of them? If not, you likely have questions about how online learning works. Is it interactive enough? Do students learn in online classes? What are the benefits of online classes vs. traditional classes? What is the timing like?

Online Learning FAQs

We can’t speak for every accredited institution that offers online graduate programs, but we put together some frequently asked questions about the approach we take to online learning at Brandeis GPS:

 

How does online learning at GPS work?
All our courses take place on a Moodle-based platform called LATTE. You’ll log into LATTE to view and download all your readings and assignments; submit projects, papers and exams; receive grades and feedback from your instructors; and participate in class discussions. You’ll find that our approach to online learning is very flexible and convenient: while most GPS courses require you to meet certain assignment deadlines throughout the week, you can log in from any time zone or location to complete your work.

Does Graduate Professional Studies offer student visas to international students?
GPS is unable to issue student visas for its part-time programs, in accordance with U.S. immigration regulations.

What is the maximum number of courses I can take per term?
You can take up to two courses per term. Your student advisor will work with you to determine your bandwidth and schedule for each term.

Can I take a course before formally applying to a program?
Yes, you can to take up to two courses before you formally apply to a program. The completion of courses as a non-matriculated student does not guarantee acceptance into a program, nor does it guarantee courses will satisfy degree requirements.

Are Brandeis and GPS accredited?
Yes, Brandeis University and the Rabb School,Graduate Professional Studies are accredited by NEASC, New England Association of Schools and Colleges.  NEASC is recognized by the US Department of Education as an official accrediting body.

How many courses do the master’s degrees require?
Master’s programs at Graduate Professional Studies are comprised of ten 3-credit courses.

What is the average class size for GPS online classes?
There are generally 16 to 20 students per course. Courses are capped at 20 students.

How long do I have to complete my degree?
You have up to five years to complete a master’s degree from the time you take your first course.

How long do I have to complete a certificate program?
You have up to three years to complete a graduate certificate program.

How many terms are offered in each academic year?
Graduate Professional Studies offers three 10-week terms per academic year.

Can I meet GPS students or instructors in person?
Yes! We offer several on-campus networking events each year. We also hold a commencement ceremony on campus each May. You can find information about scheduled networking events by visiting the Mark Your Calendars page on our website.

What are the GPS application deadlines?
We offer rolling admissions, so you can apply and be accepted at any time. However, if you’re seeking admission for a specific term, please be mindful of the following deadlines for 2016-17 academic year:

Fall: Aug. 16
Spring: Dec. 13
Summer: April 25

Do you require the GRE or GMAT?
We do not! These exams do not test to what our programs are about. Because our degrees are geared toward students who are currently working and seeking to advance their careers in specific industries, we take a more holistic approach toward evaluating applicants. Some of the qualifications we look for include work experience, professional recommendations, and statements of goals. Read more about our application requirements here.

How can I finance my education? Do you offer financial aid?
Our dedicated financial aid counselor will work with you to find the best financial option for you. Many of our students receive tuition reimbursements from their employers. GPS students who have been accepted to a program are also eligible for federal students loans as long as they take two courses per term. Please visit our website for more information.

#WhatsYourWhy Wednesday with Patrick McGraw

We know that pursuing a master’s degree can be overwhelming, particularly for students who work full-time and are already balancing professional and personal commitments. We also know that every student has a unique reason that drives him or her to return to school and complete their degree.

Last fall, we held a scholarship competition and asked our students to tell us their story — their why — behind their decision to enroll in a graduate program. This series will profile our scholarship winners.

Read previous #WhatsYourWhy Wednesday posts here and here.

 

Patrick Mcgraw - Brandeis GPS online Education - Brandeis GPS blogGraduate Professional Studies: I’m here with Patrick McGraw, a student in our Master of Science in Strategic Analytics program. Congratulations on winning our first “What’s Your Why” scholarship! Tell us where you’re from.

Patrick McGraw: Hi, I’m Patrick McGraw, and I live in Bergen County, New Jersey.

GPS: How many courses have you taken with GPS so far?

PM: I’m currently on my third course with GPS.

GPS: Great! Tell me more about what you do for work.

PM: I am a senior vice president and general manager at Ipsos MMA.  We are a marketing effectiveness consultancy firm based in New York with offices in Norwalk, CT and Chicago. We are also opening international offices in London.

GPS:  What was the main driver in helping you decide to go back to school to get your graduate degree?

PM: The main driver has always been a focus on continuous learning and development, and this is something that leaders I’ve worked with throughout my career have been big champions of. But another big thing is that my industry is at a point of change from a marketing standpoint — there have been huge shifts from traditional marketing tools and tactics into digital marketing and the realms of social media.

Ultimately, I decided it was time to refresh my industry experience  with the latest academic perspectives so that I could continue to drive value for my clients and for my company, and to most effectively coach and develop the people who work with me and for me.

GPS: What made you choose GPS over some other programs that you considered?

PM:  I felt that Brandeis has a nice mix of focus on leadership and the application and integration of the work into a business environment. This is my second master’s, so I was looking for an integrative approach that teaches you to elevate the application in addition to updating the technique.

PicMonkey Sample

GPS: You’ve already touched on this a bit, but is there anything else you hope to gain professionally once you complete the program?

PM: My goal is to be an effective business partner for the clients we serve and to be able to bring the most updated, wide-range perspective and thinking to my work. I want to make sure I’m being the most able coach and developer in the organization that I lead. There is also an underlying personal satisfaction. I love to learn and extend what I’m thinking about in my work every day. GPS really drives you and forces you to do that as part of the process.

GPS: What do you think it takes to be successful at completing a program like this?

PM: You have to have the motivation to do it, and you have to be disciplined about setting aside a good block of time during
the week to do work, whether that is a weekend morning or “on the fly.”

GPS: Can you think of an example where you have been able to directly apply your coursework to what you do at your job?

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with family

PM: Yes, there are a range of applications that come up in this job that really make me think about applying what I’ve learned in my courses. This includes taking the business intelligence perspective I gained through my first course to polishing up on my statistics last summer to even my most recent leadership class. These applications have given me the opportunity to rethink my role in my
organization, and how to coach and develop the team that I lead and the colleagues I work with every day.

GPS: What do you like to do outside of the class and the office?

PM: I focus my extra time on my family. I have a wife and three children, and it’s important that we carve out time for each other. I enjoy spending my free time being adventurous.  My son and I go on a rafting and rock-climbing trip every summer. I also like to fish with my brother and father. I do a lot of outdoor activities to balance out all the desk time.

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

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Learning Analytics

Data is increasing with the use of learning technologies, and data is being produced at virtually every learning footprint. The next step in the process is to take the data and analyze the connections to improve the entire learning experience.

Learning analytics is the measurement, collection, analysis, and reporting of data about the learners and their contexts for the purpose of understanding and optimizing learning and the environment in which it occurs. [1]

Learning analytics has been around for some time. Its origin can be traced to business intelligence and to predicting consumer behavior. Learning analytics in education has emerged in the last few
decades, and it follows similar analysis and predictive relationships. Learning analytics is growing to keep pace with deciphering patterns from huge data sets to further support and personalize the learning experience.

My interest in learning analytics stems from my research on learning style preferences. The hypothesis was that, if you could determine a user’s learning style preference, then you could optimally display content in a form to best suit the way a learner could interpret it; you could support their success. At that time, most analysis had to be completed prior to the learning, and then you could track users accordingly. Real-time data analysis was in its infancy. The vision then was that, in the future, this could be done via machine learning, with data analysis and dynamically serving up content in a format that learners best understood. Today, those capabilities exist in some learning management systems in the form of learning analytics and adaptive learning.

Currently, most learning management systems are able to track a student’s footprint throughout a course. It can document when a user logs in and logs out, and they can determine the type of content they viewed and for how long. They can also alert students to assignments, assessments and most course requirements, including their status within each course. Some learning systems have dashboards that indicate the students’ progress compared to their expectations and compared to their cohorts’ performance.

 

In my opinion, most learning management systems are good at data reporting, but they fall short in data analysis and in relationships. The challenge is to harness the data and to make reasonable connections, so that meaningful, positive and proactive interventions can be made; ultimately, we hope to improve the instructional process and student success.

Why use learning analytics:

Learning analytics has relevance and usefulness across various groups, including instructors, students, instructional designers and institutions.

Instructors:

Instructors can use learner analytics to gain insight into student progress:

  • Course navigation paths
  • Most popular content
  • Reflection time
  • Problem-solving
  • Measurement of student engagement and participation
  • Assignment and assessment completion

Analytics can also be used as an early warning system for at-risk students; they can trigger appropriate messaging.


Students:

Students can use learner analytics to gain insight into their progress:

  • Seeing their progress and grades
  • Tracking their progress against course requirements
  • Comparing their progress with their cohorts
  • Tracking content and resources

Instructional designers:

As computer technologies develop and more learning components are online, it is essential for learning specialists to evaluate the impact of each emerging technology and to investigate the strengths, weaknesses and appropriate applications for the learners. Sometimes, this is in the form of a retrospective analysis, but increasingly this analysis can be done closer to the time of the event for more agile course adjustments.

Learning analytics can also be used for continuous improvement of the learning design, such as increasing learner engagement, expanding knowledge retention and improving course and program
outcomes.

Institutions:

Learning analytics can be applied at the institutional level for reporting usage trends. In the future, courses could have personality profiles based on course metadata. These items could include tags, such as “projects-based learning,” “discussions,” “hybrid” and “synchronous.” Each metadata tag could also have an associated strength. Each student would also have his or her own evolving learning personality profile.

This data matching would be similar to how Amazon recommends products based on a customer’s purchasing history and behavior. To optimize student success, the recommendation engine architecture could suggest courses that best match the profiles and that mesh with individual learning styles.

Learning analytics—one view but not the whole picture:

It would be short sighted to think that the landscape of learning analytics is only within the confines of an online learning management system. It is increasingly apparent that the majority of learning
occurs outside of the learning management system; it is only the tip of the iceberg. Learning also occurs informally, such as through social media, experiences and discussions. Learning analytics should be inclusive, capturing all learning opportunities. The Experience API (xAPI) has been developed as a mechanism to record and track all types of learning experiences. Ultimately, inclusion of this learning data will broaden analysis and connections. However, in my experience in piloting the xAPI, it is more elusive than reality. It will take time for the experiential footprints to be folded into the mix of the learning data.

Summary:

Learning analytics is not a one-time, one-size-fits-all approach. It is dynamic, as the parts of the system change and grow. Learning analytics is an emerging field that can benefit many; it has the potential of being a significant factor in improving the overall learning experience in educational institutions or in corporate training.

References:

[1] Society for Learning Analytics Research, 2011.

[2] Low, G. (1995). A study of the effects of learning style preference on achievement in a medical computer simulation (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from UMI Dissertation Database (Accession No. ALMA BOSU1 21625699380001161)

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