The Brandeis GPS blog

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

Tag: Kara Noonan

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. 

Countdown to Commencement: (Re)Meet Kara Wasnewsky, Brandeis GPS Commencement Student Speaker

In 2015, Brandeis GPS profiled Kara Wasnewsky (Noonan), a student in our instructional design graduate program. Two years later, we are thrilled to announce that Kara has been selected as this year’s student commencement speaker. We recently had the pleasure of speaking with Kara about her journey and how her experience in the MS in Instructional Design and Technology has influenced her career path.

Continue reading

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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