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

Tag: Student

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. 

Advice at Rabb ceremony: ‘Geek Out’

Original Post: http://www.brandeis.edu/now/2014/may/commencement/rabb.html

by: Leah Burrows

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In Sunday’s kickoff diploma ceremony, the Division of Graduate Professional Studies at the Rabb School of Continuing Studies conferred nearly 100 graduate degrees and certificates on a diverse group of professionals from across the country and around the world.

The ceremony awarded graduate certificates and master’s degrees in bioinformatics, information security, information technology management, project and program management, health and medical informatics, virtual management and software engineering.

The graduates, most of whom worked full-time jobs as they pursued their degrees and certificates, shared the spotlight with their families, who were praised for their support and patience.

“Friends and family members should get a graduate degree in understanding,” said Anne Marando, executive director of the Division of Graduate Professional Studies.

Student speaker Robert Havasy, MS ’14, agreed, thanking his family for “propping me up when I thought about quitting, when the work seemed too much.”

Havasy, the corporate team lead for product and technology development at the Center for Connected Health, highlighted the differences between Rabb graduates and others receiving their degrees on Sunday.

Many of these students will spend the next few years figuring out what they want to do, struggling to find their place in the work force and searching for a mentor, Havasy said.

“What makes Rabb unique is the vast majority of us came here from established careers,” Havasy told his fellow graduates. “We will return to work next week or, more likely, tomorrow. We will become mentors to these students. So spend time with your interns, use your influence to promote diversity, civility and integrity in the workplace.”

Eric Siegel ’91, the founder of Predictive Analytics World and Text Analytics World, gave the keynote address. He urged the graduates to “do what you love and love what you do.”

EricSeigelStudent“My advice to you is geek out,” Siegel said. “Get into it. Find that thing in your work you get a thrill out of.  The holy grail in your work life is finding that thing that gives you a kick.”

Siegel, the executive editor of Predictive Analytics Times and the author of “Predictive Analytics: The Power to Predict Who Will Click, Buy, Lie, or Die,” received his bachelor’s degree from Brandeis in computer science.

He shared his own experiences geeking out about predictive analytics, theater and teaching. The self-proclaimed “singing professor” lived up to his name, serenading graduates with a few verses from his songs about problem solving and analytics.

“It is a priority to find the fun in your work life,” he told the graduates.

Pursing an education while working a full-time job wasn’t always fun for many of Sunday’s graduates but it was fulfilling.

“This was such a rewarding experience,” said Rocky Moscoso, who received a Master’s of Software Engineering. “I had 14 years of experience in the field before coming to Brandeis and I was able to use what I learned at work in the classroom and visa versa.”

Veronica Orozco, who also received a Master’s of Software Engineering, agreed.

“This experience was insane, overwhelming and totally worth it,” she said.

About the Author:

Leah is the  News and Communications Specialist at Brandeis University, generating content for the university’s website and magazine. Leah also writes for her own blog: wordsbyleah.com

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