The Brandeis GPS blog

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

Tag: instructional design (page 1 of 3)

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.

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.

Online learning tools that foster interactive coursework

Woman typing on computerThere is a common misconception that online learning cannot be as interactive as in-classroom learning. With today’s instructional design technology however, this is simply no longer the case.

The Distance Education Enrollment Report 2017, produced by Digital Learning Compass, in partnership with OLC, Pearson and Tyton Partners, indicates that online participation in graduate-level coursework is on the rise. The report found that the number of total students taking at least one online course increased by 11 percent between 2012 and 2015.

To meet this demand, graduate programs are responding by developing tools and technologies to keep their online classrooms interactive.

All Brandeis GPS programs are fully online and asynchronous, allowing a lot of flexibility for students throughout each week. Instructors use a number of digital tools to enhance their students online learning experience. These are some of the new tools that Brandeis GPS is using this year:

Mahara ePortfolio

Mahara ePortfolioThis fall, Brandeis GPS is adopting Mahara as it’s new ePortfolio tool. ePortfolios allow students to compile and preserve their submitted assignments from course-to-course and create a web-based collection of their work products and program accomplishments. The inclusion of ePortfolio assignments within GPS courses will allow students to learn more deeply through self-reflection and to illustrate the skills they acquire through their participation in the program to current and prospective employers.

Select courses within the Strategic Analytics, Information Security Leadership, Health & Medical Informatics, and Software Engineering programs will feature ePortfolio assignments this fall. Then throughout the year, Mahara will be rolled-out more broadly to all GPS programs.

VoiceThread

Voicethread Online ToolVoiceThread allows instructors and students to engage in voice and video based asynchronous discussions. Users can post discussion responses that include webcam video, images, audio, and text uploaded from their browser or mobile devices and can reply to classmates’ or instructors’ posts with voice, video, image-based, and/or text responses. VoiceThread creates an opportunity for students to engage in rich audio-visual discussions and group activities, and allows instructors to provide voice and video based feedback on students posts and assignments in an asynchronous setting.

VoiceThread has officially been adopted as a university-supported teaching tool following a successful Teaching Innovation Grant supported pilot spearheaded by GPS Instructors Kim Round, Carrie Miller, and Carol Damm and Brandeis Arts & Sciences professor Kathrin Seidl last year.

For more information on GPS courses or graduate programs, contact gps@brandeis.edu or 781-736-8787 or check out our website.

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. 

SPOTLIGHT ON JOBS: BOSTON PRIVATE BANK & TRUST COMPANY

 

Spotlight on Jobs - Brandeis GPS Online Education - Brandeis GPS Blog

Members of the Brandeis GPS Community may submit job postings from within their industries to advertise exclusively to our community. This is a great way to further connect and seek out opportunities as they come up. If you are interested in posting an opportunity, please complete the following form found here.

Where: Boston Private Bank & Trust Company in Boston, MA

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“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.”

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Upcoming UX webinar: a story-first approach to human-centered design

Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016
2-3 p.m. EDT
Hosted by Lou Susi, Program Chair of the MS in User-Centered Design

louis-susi - Brandeis GPS Online Education - Brandeis GPS BlogWhen we design for experience, subtle and peculiar shifts come into play that demand a uniquely compassionate way of thinking about and guiding our practice. This webinar will explore:

  • The benefits of putting story concepts at the center of a human-centered design approach to improve the design process
  • The quality of a total human experience we’re ultimately all creating through our work.
  •  High-level perspectives, philosophies and mindsets pertaining to both design thinking and decision-making

Learn more and register!

#WhatsYourWhy Wednesday with Tara Holderith

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, here and here.

Tara with one of her students

Tara with one of her students

Graduate Professional Studies: I’m here with Tara Holderith, a student in our Master of Science in Instructional Design and Technology program. Congratulations on winning our first “What’s Your Why” scholarship! Tell us where you’re from.

Tara Holderith: Thank you! I’m from Dingmans Ferry, Pennsylvania.

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

TH: I’ve taken four courses. My first term was this past summer, and I took Principles of Online Instructional Design and Professional Communications. In the fall, I took Learning Analytics, which was a new course, and Advanced Instructional Design. This term I also enrolled in two courses.

GPS: Could you tell us about your day job?

TH: I’ve been teaching for 18 years. I am currently a sixth grade mathematics teacher in New Jersey.

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

TH: I had both professional and personal reasons. Last winter, our school principal approached me and started a conversation about pedagogy and instructional design. He realized my passion and challenged me to go back to school. At first I was like “with what time?” But after careful consideration and some research, the rest is history.

GPS: What do you hope to gain professionally with this degree?

TH: Professionally, I want to gain more cutting-edge skillsets. My passion is designing innovative pedagogy according to best practices, so I’m hoping to develop even more skills in addition to those I have already learned in just four classes here at GPS.

GPS: Glad to hear! What do you hope to gain personally out of the program?

TH: I’ve come to the program to be a lifelong learner and learning for learning’s sake. I already have a master’s degree so getting another one isn’t going to directly benefit me financially. However, in terms of my personal growth and my desire to continue learning, this was the perfect opportunity for me and it was directly aligning with what I was looking for.

GPS: Awesome! Why do you think you will be successful in graduate school?

TH: I was just having this conversation with one of my supervisors and I said that when it comes to work ethic, there is no limit with me. Time is never an issue because I will do whatever it takes to complete the workload. I do have three children so it has cost me sleep on different occasions, but because I love educating and bettering myself it is really no bother to me.

GPS: Can you think of an example of any course assignment that you have directly utilized in a current or previous role at work?

TH: I was thinking about this question recently, and I’ve come to the conclusion that there are so many different assignments that have actually been relevant. As a mother of three working full-time, time is very limited so I’ve been combining a lot of my work duties with my school responsibilities. I’ve found there is a lot of alignment, which has enabled me to give 100 percent to both my job and school.

GPS: Now a couple of fun questions. What do you like to do outside of work and school?

TH: Two of my children are USA swimmers so I spend a lot of time at swim meets. When I’m not doing that, I enjoy reading anything I can get my hands on, and I like to exercise and hike.

Enjoying nature with family

Enjoying nature with family

GPS: Are you a swimmer too?

TH: I was, but I always say that even though I am not a swimmer now, chlorine still seems to be my perfume and colleagues have even said that they can smell it on me.

GPS: Anything else you would like to add?

TH: Just that I’m extremely grateful to be part of this program. It has been such an opportunity for me and like I said before, I’m doing it because I love learning and so far it has been exactly what I expected plus more. I’ve developed a great cohort of classmates already and I really enjoy the diversity in terms of our professional experience.

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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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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