Brandeis GPS Blog

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

Tag: professors

GPS honors Vitaly Yurik with Excellence in Service Award

Faces of GPS | Vitaly Yurik

We are pleased to announce that Dr. Vitaly Yurik received this year’s award for Excellence in Service to Students and to the Division, distributed annually at the start of each GPS fall term.

“The recipient of the award will have consistently received high student evaluations and testimonials, and made contributions to the Division through their engagement in school activities and events,” introduced Anne Marando, the executive director of GPS. “The award this year has been made to Vitaly Yurik, who has taught for Graduate Professional Studies since its inception in 1997.”

Anne Marando, Executive Director of GPS, congratulating Dr. Vitaly Yurik.

Anne Marando, Executive Director of GPS, congratulating Dr. Vitaly Yurik

In his 19-year teaching career for GPS, Dr. Yurik has taught 1,590 students in the classroom and online. He has developed and taught 18 different courses, including Advanced Programming in Java, Levels 1, 2, and Expert; Design Patterns; Java Enterprise Programming; Object-Oriented Programming; Web Development Technologies, and many others.

Dr. Yurik consistently receives strong course evaluation ratings and comments from students who express gratitude for his teaching.

“Vitaly is a superb instructor. His material is flawless and he is exceptionally timely on grading,” said one of his former students. “This is very helpful when determining course expectations. I thought the course was great. It dove into EJB and Web services very well. The projects allowed you to apply what you learned. I also found the supplemental material very valuable, as it dove into areas such as how to get the require tools and configure your environment like maven, JBoss, ant, etc.”

Dr. Vitaly Yurik giving his acceptance speech.

Dr. Vitaly Yurik giving his acceptance speech.

Regarding service to the division, Marando shared that Vitaly was among the initial set of faculty who taught Software Engineering courses in the evenings. He helped to shape the curriculum, working with others on the development of new courses needed as our first program expanded.

“In thinking back, I believe he attended just about every on-campus information session held, every faculty meeting at the divisional and program levels, every networking event, and every Commencement,” Marando said.

We are proud to honor Vitaly for his meaningful teaching of our students, and for his contributions to Graduate Professional Studies.

Dr. Vitaly Yurik has been teaching at GPS since its inception in 1997.

Dr. Vitaly Yurik has been teaching at GPS since its inception in 1997.

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.


Meet the Brandeis GPS Instructional Designers

At Brandeis GPS, we are always working to improve our online courses to be more interactive and collaborative. Meet two of the reasons we are able to constantly improve. Carol Damm & Jennifer Livengood, our instructional design team!


Instructional Designer, Jennifer Livengood


Instructional Designer, Carol Damm

How long have you each been in the instructional design field?

Carol Damm: Before GPS, I was with a  company that developed e-learning for about three years.

Jennifer Livengood: Four years as a full time job, but professionally ten years.

What is your favorite part of your instructional design work?

CD:  It’s hard to narrow it down! I like problem solving.  Instructional design is like being given a blank slate, and for me what’s fun is trying to figure out which is the best approach. So I guess it’s the process of finding out which design works best for a course.

JL: Being creative. It’s in the job title!

What are ways you can use to innovate an online course that you can’t use in an in person course?

CD: Bringing the students a one -on-one interactive experience with a topic.  With an online courses you can actually use tools to help develop students skills and increase collaboration.

JL: You can build things that are individually interactive, so the student gets individual attention. An online classroom is  a place for students to explore through a discussion board. Quiet students can communicate more in a discussion board where they may have been been shy in person. It truly brings out personalities.


Can you tell me about a great experience you’ve had designing GPS courses?

CD: What I like about it the most are the instructors and working with them. I feel like I am a perpetual student because, for many of the courses, I have no experience in most of the instructors’ fields of expertise. I love connecting with them and advising them on how to engage students with the topics and materials in their courses.InstructionalDesign

JL: Working on the professional communications course with Jennifer Drewry. We both brought our own ideas and between the two of us we were able to revise her course and make it more fun and interactive.

Can you tell me an example of a specific improvement you have made to a course and any feedback you’ve received as a result?

CD:  Lately, I’ve made recommendations on how  an instructor can take their topic and create effective discussion questions that will allow students to bring their own experience and knowledge to the discussion. You want the students to bring their ideas into this more social realm and to be as collaborative as possible not only with instructors but with other students.

JL: At a previous job I made the improvement of having the instructors come in and do a video. They weren’t previously in the course. Having the students come in and see their [professor’s] face, hear their voice. The student feedback said they liked it!


What is the most creative thing you have ever done for a course?

CD: Working on developing a presentation, a micro-lesson, that will teach some rudimentary SQL (Structured Query Language) coding. What I want to do is make it interactive so that students will have to put in the right code to get to the next lesson. It’s creative and students really respond well to the interactive lessons. In the past I’ve done some videography work as well as editing. I love that, it’s lots of fun, very creative. The two contribute to a lesson and make it more interesting.

JL: Working with two instructors in the language department and creating interactive games for their courses. Really pushing the limit on some of the software. It was unique and fun for the students. Unlike taking a normal multiple choice quiz where it’s a little boring.


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