The Brandeis GPS blog

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

Tag: higher education

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. 

From Online to the Field: How to Transfer Your Skills

by: – Custom Content Coordinator

There’s no question graduate education is an asset in today’s competitive professional world. Once nice-to-have, a master’s degree is now a necessity for coveted industry positions in the fastest-growing fields. The Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics projects by 2020, the number of jobs requiring a master’s degree for entry is expected to grow by 22 percent.

Demand for a graduate education is growing. But is putting your career on hold to attend graduate school really the answer?

Instead of leaving the workforce, more and more are embracing online education. Technology has evolved to make online education a rich, interactive experience that holds its own against the conventional classroom model. Busy professionals can tailor courses to fit their schedule, making it possible to learn and earn at the same time. With a wealth of options like Khan AcademyedX,  and traditional institutions’ online programs, a master’s level education is now only a click away.

So where can an online education take you? While there are programs on the web for every area of study, two in particular will serve you well in today’s competitive job market: software engineering and strategic analytics. Both computer software and big data are integral to business’ operations placing those two skill sets in high demand in every field. See how online master’s degrees in software engineering or strategic analytics will help you break into Boston’s top industries.

Financial Services. Boston’s burgeoning financial community is in need of employees from all skill sets, especially in the realm of software development and data analysis. Today’s global financial institutions, many of which are headquartered right here in the Hub, rely on complex software programs to function. Software engineers who strategically develop, operate, and maintain this crucial technology are in high demand.

Also in demand are those who can collect, manage, and analyze massive amounts of data.  With the growth of e-commerce and online transactions alone, interpreting and understanding the strategic potential of big data is essential to the health of financial institutions.

Technology. From budding startups to established corporations, Boston’s tech world is a diverse, eclectic, and exciting field to work. Best of all, it’s growing. Fast. It goes without saying that a master’s in software engineering would be an asset for anyone seeking to break into the tech industry, but it’s not strictly computer nerds who need apply. Analytical minds are needed to process big data and apply insights to an organization’s bottom line.

Higher Education. With more than fifty college and universities in Boston, there are plenty of opportunities in the field of higher education, especially for those with a master’s degree in software or strategic analytics. Software programs are vital for a university to function, from student networks to administrative tasks to alumni communications.

Also, for universities, data is at the center of their operations. Statistical insights are key to understanding the application process, students’ academic performance, the movement of funds, and more.

Government Services. The State House and City Hall need more than politicians to keep Massachusetts and Boston running smoothly. As expected, sophisticated software powers all government operations, but strategic analytics skills are just as, if not more, valued at a government institutions. Our governing bodies are incessantly collecting and analyzing data on constituents. With a master’s in strategic analytics, you’re able to apply your skills analyzing and leveraging data to guide government projects.

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