The Brandeis GPS blog

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

Tag: Technology (page 2 of 3)

Brandeis expands online course offerings with Learning Analytics graduate certificate

New fall program combines data analysis with the expanding field of online learning

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Brandeis University’s Graduate Professional Studies division (GPS) will launch a fully-online graduate certificate program in Learning Analytics in September 2015, the university announced today.

Designed to be completed in 1.5 years or less, the program is for professionals with strong backgrounds in education, instructional design, or institutional research. Cross-disciplinary in nature, the certificate will provide students with the foundational tool sets and theory of business intelligence and data analysis. These skillsets are necessary for evaluating the effectiveness of courses, programs and instruction, and prepare students to fill a highly in-demand skills gap in a burgeoning job market.

“As the learning analytics field continues to evolve, it is more important than ever before to use the technology and data we have available to us to understand and, ultimately, enhance the learning experience,” said Brian Salerno, director of Online Learning and Instructional Design at Brandeis GPS.

The five-course, 15-credit certificate program draws heavily from two existing Brandeis GPS master’s degrees: Instructional Design and Technology and Strategic Analytics. Applicants are expected to possess a post-graduate degree in a related field as well as three years of relevant work experience.

In addition to the new Learning Analytics certificate, Brandeis GPS offers eight fully online part-time master’s degrees, including Strategic Analytics, Bioinformatics, Health and Medical Informatics, Instructional Design & Technology, and Software Engineering. All Brandeis GPS programs are asynchronous, providing students with a flexible and convenient approach to completing their degree.

Students interested in applying to the Learning Analytics certificate program should complete their application by Aug. 11, 2015. Students also have the opportunity to take a course prior to applying for admission. Registration for the summer 2015 term opened on April 14, with courses beginning May 20. For more information about Brandeis GPS, please visit www.brandeis.edu/gps.

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Analytics: Not Just For Data Experts

By Ariel Garber

Analytics is useful in any profession, with the potential to increase efficiency, profitability and accuracy. From healthcare, to marketing, to even sports, analytics is becoming an essential tool in all fields. Here’s a sneak peak into how data affects more industries that you expect.

Technology is shaping a new health care economy, evident in the advances of Stethoscopemobile devices, cloud computing and analytics. “‘We need to empower consumers with the in-the-moment guidance they need,’” said Dennis Schmuland, MD, Microsoft’s chief health strategy officer, “adding that a key technological component of that on both sides of the patient-provider equation is health analytics, thus the need to ‘make analytics easy for everyone.’”

Social media Picture1and marketing analytics tools are also important as social media becomes essential in all fields. Research has shown that “the conversations your customers have among themselves drive about 13 percent of business decisions and can amplify your advertising by 15 percent.

Sports analytics are valuable to both consumers and professionals, for the way we consume sports industry through sports data is dependent upon analytics. “Sports analytics is not just a catch phrase, but an influential part of the future of sports,” said Bloomberg Sports, the leading global provider in data and analytics, “We believe sports analytics plays an integral role in the future of sport, both at a fan engagement and elite sport performance level.” Bloomberg Sports offers a variety of resources to both consumers and professionals. For professional purposes, they provide analytic tools for scouting, video analysis and “player-centric applications to assess performances and aid the preparation of upcoming games.” They also have created a predictive analytics program and use their own broadcast and TV stations to “translate analytics-rich content into broadcast tools used on-air to inform and educate viewers.” They also host their own website, StatsInsights.com, featuring analytics-rich sports articles.

Big data is becoming incorporated into all aspects of sports, from devices that can track pitches during the game, to wearable technology. Adidas’ miCoach system collects data from a device attached to the player’s jersey that shows the top performers and who is tired, as well as “real-time stats on each player, such as speed, heart rate and acceleration.” The data from these devices assists trainers, coaches, and physicians in planning better training and conditioning.

There is also a demand for data analytics specialists to translate the data from these devices in a coherent manner for the players and coaches. Moneyball, a 2003 book and 2011 movie featured the Oakland Athletics competitive baseball that utilized analytics in their data-driven strategies. This highlights a shift in sports from gut instincts to a reliance upon science. Analytics is “gaining recognition as a tried and true instrument for competitive advantage in countless industries.”

Brandeis Graduate Professional Studies offers a Strategic Analytics program that produces professionals who understand the strategic potential of big-data analytics and who can translate analysis into effective organizational decision-making, poised to lead today’s organizations to new standards of efficiency and competitiveness.

Brandeis GPS is hosting an Analytics 360 Symposium on Wednesday, April 8, 2015 from 9am-4:30pm at Hassenfeld Conference Center of Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts.

360LogoALT2The day-long symposium will focus on promoting a discussion of the growing field of analytics and how organizations can leverage big data to make more strategic decisions. Panelists will engage in a conversation that places analytics in the context of big data, education, health, marketing and business.

Register here for the Analytics 360 Symposium on April 8, 2015 at Brandeis University. The cost for NERCOMP members is $135 and the cost for non-members is $265. Submit this form to learn more about special pricing available to members of the Brandeis community. For more information, email analytics360@brandeis.edu or call 781-736-8786. You can also find us on Twitter using #GPSAnalytics.

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The Emerging Field of Learning Analytics

by Ariel Garber

The development of learning analytics will help shape a new model for teaching and learning, creating a system that provides insight and information to support student success. The field of learning analytics, defined by EDUCAUSE, is “deciphering trends and patterns from educational big data, or huge sets of student-related data, to further the advancement of a personalized, supportive system of higher education.”  Learning analytics evaluates student behavior in order to determine learning efficiency, creating conversations with students about learning strategies and how well they feel learning has occurred. Technology allows us to study learning experiences through the capture and analysis of learning and performance data.

“Analytics provides a new model for college and university leaders to improve teaching, learning, organizational efficiency, and decision making and, as a consequence, serve as a foundation for systemic change,” said George Siemens and Phil Long in their article about learning analytics.

program-hero-strategic-analyticsA key feature of learning analytics is its learning-centric focus, analyzing student performance outside of the classroom in order to gain a new understanding of the efficiency of students, teachers and the curriculum. Beyond basic retention and completion, learning analytics produces students with both inquiry and analysis focus and critical and creative thinking skills.

The implementation of learning analytics requires restructuring academic institutions, to include re-evaluating the flow of data between departments, increasing personal student support, reshaping course design, delivery and more. These changes will be felt by the faculty, students and the institution as a whole. Collaborative and creative leadership is essential in fostering an academic environment that can support and utilize learning analytics.

The Online Instructional Design & Technology program at Brandeis GPS offers foundational skills through the study of instructional design principles, educational technology, and adult learning theories. Students gain the experience needed to solve a variety of instructional challenges and, ultimately, create and deliver high-quality online programs and interactive courseware.

In large part because of the continuous growth in online programs, the Bureau of Labor Statistics data demonstrates that jobs in instructional design and technology have grown 20.8% since 2004, and project above average growth as high as 20% for instructional design jobs between 2010 and 2020. In the next four years alone, the bureau projects over 36,000 new jobs will become available in instructional design and technology.

This reveals the growing forum for learning analytics and Strategic Analytics, also offered at Brandeis Graduate Professional Studies. Brandeis GPS is hosting an Analytics 360 Symposium on Wednesday, April 8, 2015 from 9am-4:30pm at Hassenfeld Conference Center of Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts.

360LogoALT2The day-long symposium will focus on promoting a discussion of the growing field of analytics and how organizations can leverage big data to make more strategic decisions. Panelists will engage in a conversation that places analytics in the context of big data, education, health, marketing and business.

Register here for the Analytics 360 Symposium on April 8, 2015 at Brandeis University. The cost for NERCOMP members is $135 and the cost for non-members is $265. Submit this form to learn more about special pricing available to members of the Brandeis community. For more information, email analytics360@brandeis.edu or call 781-736-8786. You can also find us on Twitter using #GPSAnalytics.

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The Luxury of Less

by: Katherine S Rowell author of “The Best Boring Book Ever of Select Healthcare Classification Systems and Databases” available now!

Originally posted here

I often find myself torn between wanting to get as much useful information as possible onto a single page of the reports and dashboards we design and build, and my love of white space, or “The Luxury of Less.” In a page lay-out, white space (also called “negative space”) is the portion of a page deliberately left unmarked. When well chosen and placed, it is a key contributor to attractive, effective design. Done poorly, it can make a page appear incomplete or even pretentiously minimal.

Consider the following example of the potential power of white space, illustrated by Edward Tufte’s redesign of a table of cancer survival statistics.

Original Table:

Source: Hermann Brenner, "Long-term survival rates of cancer patient[s] achieved by the end of the 20th century; a period analysis," The Lancet, 360 (October 12, 2002), 1131-1135.

Tufte First Iteration Table Redesign:

Source: Edward Tufte

Second Table-Graph Iteration:

Source: Edward Tufte

The original table, which is similar to the ones we are accustomed to seeing in scientific publications, is ordered by body system and is perfectly adequate for the look-up and comparison of values, including details about the Standard Error (SE) of each value-that is, it serves its purpose. But could it be improved?

Tufte’s first redesign highlights a particular (and newly featured) aspect of the data: five-year survival rates by type of cancer. Notice how each row in this re-done table has a bit more white space: heavy black lines framing the titles and column-headings, and parentheses around the standard errors, have been removed, giving some visual respite and making the figures more legible. The re-categorization of the data also makes a trend it illustrates somewhat easier to spot (take a minute to look at the information in the first column and follow it across; you’ll see it). The entire table looks and feels cleaner, and especially for research publications that require reporting and display of all relevant statistics, this table redesign works very well.

The third table-graphic-a hybrid of the two forms-provides yet another view, and a different data-visualization lesson. It presents the viewer with a clear picture of survival time gradients, illustrating the slope of survival rates for each type of cancer. In this last table-graphic, there is an even greater use of white space, and every visual element contributes directly to understanding-simply, elegantly, clearly. The use of space coupled with a line to show the slope of change leaves no doubt about the story in the data.

Although I see no compelling reason why a view like this couldn’t be used in a research publication (adding back in the standard errors), this is of course wishful thinking on my part: it simply won’t happen any time soon. What isn’t wishful thinking, however, is that we have immediate opportunities to use these techniques to build the tables and other displays we create for our clients, supervisors, and colleagues. We can most certainly use them to simplify and clarify information for patients and the general public, too.

Bottom line? Tufte reminds us yet again of the power of simplicity, and that showing less often reveals so much more.

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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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Graduates with Roots in STEM Face Growing Career Opportunities

By: – Custom Content Coordinator

As we enter May, young people here in Boston and across the country are about to embark on a new chapter in their lives. Many will be graduating from college and taking their first step into the great, wide, professional world. Question marks fill their future as they wonder what kind of opportunities await them and their hard-earned bachelor’s degrees.

While it is impossible to forecast the job market with absolute certainty, it is undeniable that the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) hold the greatest opportunities for job seekers now and in the future. Industries like renewable energy, healthcare, advanced manufacturing and technology are rapidly growing and demand increasing numbers of skilled workers to sustain their expansion.

The computer and math occupations account for close to half of all STEM employment, followed by engineering with 32 percent, and then physical and life sciences at 13 percent, according to U.S. Department of Commerce. Significant growth is projected for computer and mathematical scientists, engineers and engineering technicians, architects and architectural technicians and more STEM occupations.

Those with strong STEM education backgrounds “will find themselves at the center of our new economy,” tech expert Vinay Trivedi said in the Huffington Post.

But unfortunately demand is outpacing supply when it comes to STEM-related careers. Fewer students are pursuing advanced math and science degrees, creating a problematic skills gap threatening the United States’ position in the new global economy.

The U.S. ranks 30th in math and 23rd in science, according to latest Program for International Student Assessment; and the latest ACT results show that only 44 percent of our high school graduates are ready for college-level math, and just 36 percent are ready for college-level science, the National Math & Science Initiative reported.

The impact of the skills deficit which develops in secondary level education has deleterious consequences once those students reach college. Many students abandon interest in STEM career by the end of their sophomore year, Irv Epstein, Professor of Chemistry at Brandeis University, observed.

It is a national imperative to reverse this trend. President Barack Obama declared creating the next generation of STEM leaders an educational priority for the nation at his State of the Union Address in January.

“I also hear from many business leaders who want to hire in the United States but can’t find workers with the right skills. Growing industries in science and technology have twice as many openings as we have workers who can do the job. Think about that–openings at a time when millions of Americans are looking for work,” he said. “That’s inexcusable. And we know how to fix it.”

program-hero-softwareMany have answered President Obama’s call to improve STEM education. In addition to early education initiatives, select colleges and universities have stepped up including Brandeis University who has partnered with the Posse Foundation to provide merit-based scholarships to minority students interested in pursuing STEM degrees.

But meanwhile, as programs launch to serve the next generation of students, the STEM jobs are still waiting, available for current job seekers who have the skills and ambition to seize the opportunity.

For those who lack adequate STEM skills but are eager to break into expanding, innovative industries, there is a way for them to bridge the skills gap: graduate education. Don’t wait for a job to pop up that fits your resume. Act now to get the training you need for the jobs available.

Brandeis University’s Division of Graduate Professional Studies prepares ambitious professionals for exciting, expanding opportunities in the job market right now. 

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Standing At The Mean

Sam Halperin  is currently a Programming Instructor at Thinkful. He is a 2011 graduate of Brandeis Graduate Professional Studies Master of Science in Software Engineering. He is working on a doctorate in Computer Science, and also blogs at www.samhalperin.com

Experimentation enabled by advances in low-cost consumer virtual reality hardware and software.

A few months ago, after a long hacking session with a genetic algorithm (an algorithm that evolves a solution from “chromosomes” over time),Pic1 Unity Game Engine (a 3D video game engine) and an Oculus Rift immersive display, I had what I think is a unique experience:   Creating a data set with the GA, writing a renderer that transformed the data into geometry, hues and color values, and piping the output to a head mounted display, I was able to don the goggles and somewhat literally walk around and stand at the mean of the data set and look around.  For me, this view into the data was a transformative personal experience, if not a scientifically valid approach to understanding data.

Weeks later a second experiment emerged, this time using sensor data attached to a stationary bicycle to drive the view-camera in a virtual environment.   This apparatus had been part of a somewhat Quixotic quest for a virtual reality based active gaming Sampost2experience.  Once implemented, it represented the faintest surface scratch into the vast requirements of art, engineering, sound, theatre and animation that actually make up a production game, but a uniquely satisfying experiment.

The most recent experiment in this set leveraged design training and demonstrated the architectural visualization pipeline from consumer-grade modeller (SketchUp) to virtual reality experience.  This product, like the other two, was also the “first 20%” of effort, (see The Pareto Principle), but uniquely satisfying. The video from the work has been retweeted many times and had over 1800 views since it has been up, and I have received numerous requests for collaboration on similar projects. (http://youtu.be/mJLK_t0bTYA)

Clearly there is a growing mass movement representing a desire for this type of virtual reality technology.  The defining factor in my experience thougsampic3h, as differs from virtual reality experimentation in the past, was that this work didn’t require access to a university
lab, defense contractor or space agency. This access is possible due to a sea change in VR technology driven by the release of the Oculus Rift Head Mounted Display.

Beginning with the release of the Oculus Rift, and followed closely by other projects, VR technology is beginning to permeate as a consumer level technology.  My bike-vr project is actually one of a few similar experiments documented in the various online communities surrounding the technology.  There is a growing community of VR hackers (perhaps a better term is maker) throughout the world, and the level of experimentation has grown exponentially.

My involvement in this work is only beginning, but I am tremendously optimistic that the technology itself represents a positive force for our ability to visualize problems, to communicate with each other, and to be present in environments that we wouldn’t normally be able to experience — across history, geography, scale and any other limits.

Question: What is the value of “being present” and experiencing virtual environments in this way?  What is the value of “standing at the mean”, and how does it differ from viewing a place, a time or a dataset on a traditional computer monitor?  What are the drawbacks?

Answer: The experience of presence with this type of display is so powerful that it can actually make the viewer nauseous, experiencing a sort of simulator sickness approaching seasickness.   At the same time, intelligently engineered virtual environments, built with this in mind can fool the brain in a more positive direction, producing joy, fright, sadness, even the perception of temperature changes.  This is not an experience that is common to interaction with a smartphone or tablet.

Current VR work of interest is quite vibrant and diverse, spanning topics such as “redirected walking” techniques for navigating large virtual environments by walking around small laboratories[1], the study of “oculesics”, where eye movements are tracked and communicated across networks to enhance communication[2], and the exploration of very large datasets using large laboratory installations ringed by huge arrays of displays[3].

See Also

  • [1] Suma, E. A., Bruder, G., Steinicke, F., Krum, D. M., & Bolas, M. (2012). A taxonomy for deploying redirection techniques in immersive virtual environments. Virtual Reality Short Papers and Posters (VRW), 2012 IEEE, 43–46. doi:10.1109/VR.2012.6180877
  • [2] Steptoe, W., Wolff, R., Murgia, A., Guimaraes, E., Rae, J., Sharkey, P., … & Steed, A. (2008, November). Eye-tracking for avatar eye-gaze and interactional analysis in immersive collaborative virtual environments. In Proceedings of the 2008 ACM conference on Computer supported cooperative work (pp. 197-200). ACM.
  • [3] Petkov, K., Papadopoulos, C., & Kaufman, A. E. (2013). Visual exploration of the infinite canvas. Virtual Reality (VR), 2013 IEEE, 11–14. doi:10.1109/VR.2013.6549349

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Inside Boston’s Ed-Tech Ecosystem: 8 Players to Watch

written by: Caroline Lyle, BostInno

To learn about our brand new Masters of Science in Online Instructional Design and Technology degree program, register for the next Virtual Open House this Wednesday, July 23rd at 7pm.  

The world doesn’t function as it did a decade ago. Everything from how we communicate, read articles, watch television, even how how we date, has been transformed by technology. It shouldn’t shock, then, that in this hyperconnected world where we walk around with encyclopedias in our pocket, how we learn is also evolving.

In recent years, online education has exploded, not only for the convenience it provides, but for the tremendous potential it presents. As a global source of knowledge and hub of connections, the web opens numerous opportunities to enhance learning. Emerging online programs and platforms have introduced new models for connecting teachers, students, and other stakeholders to optimize the learning experience.

The innovation is only beginning. Educational technology presents a goldmine of opportunity for both academics and entrepreneurs. For telltale evidence of ed-tech’s promising future, one need look no further than the astounding amount of capital being poured into the space. In just the last three months alone, investors have contributed more than $559 million into the ed-tech industry, and this past quarter, investments reached a record-breaking high.

“Investments exceeded $1.25 billion, marking the second straight year the ed-tech sector crossed the billion-dollar line,” BostInno reported.

Leading the ed-tech revolution is Boston. The city’s booming tech scene and renowned institutions of higher education have made Boston an incubator for ed-tech startups, many of which have expanded to reach students and teachers around the globe.

Go inside Boston’s ed-tech ecosystem and meet some of the most influential disruptors born here in the Hub. Some are fledgling startups; others established companies, but all are agents of change, leveraging technology to transform education as we know it.

1. edX

edX

Founded by Harvard and MIT ,edX is a massive online learning platform striving to increase access to education for everyone, everywhere. EdX makes Ivy League learning available to all by partnering with 32 higher education institutions including Stanford, Wellesley, UC Berkeley, and several schools outside the United States. Most recently, the company partnered with Facebook for the new initiative SocialEDU, bringing online education to the unconnected world starting with Rwanda. EdX also expanded the platform to Saudi Arabia earlier this month.

2. Boundless

Boundless

Most students are all too familiar with the exorbitant price of textbooks. Quite often, it’s an expense many simply can’t afford. Boundless believes the materials needed to learn should never be a luxury. In 2011, Boundless launched to democratize education by making textbooks affordable for all. Originally offering online textbooks, Boundless has expanded to offer a vast suite of cloud-powered educational resources for both teachers and students. A recent partnership will integrate Boundless’ content library into Top Hat’s cutting-edge, collaborative teaching platform, allowing teachers to edit and curate content in real-time. The company has raised a total of $10 million in venture funding and reaches more than 3 million students and educators.

3. LearnLaunch

LearnLaunch

LearnLaunch is a key catalyst driving Boston’s booming ed-tech scene. The nonprofit strives to support local ed-tech startups in New England, mostly through their accelerator program,LearnLaunchX, which graduated a fresh class of ed-tech startups in May. When visiting LearnLaunchX, Mayor Marty Walsh commented,”the future really is here in this room.”

4. Lexia Learning

While Boston’s edLexia Learning-tech boom is only a couple years old, one company was a pioneer in educational technology decades before the recent wave of startups. Headquartered in Concord, Massachusetts,Lexia Learning is a globally renowned reading technology company focused on improving students’ literacy. Since it was founded 29 years ago with private funding and grants obtained from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Lexia Learning has continually evolved, innovating the most cutting-edge ways to use technology to build students’ reading skills. In 2008, Lexia earned the EdNet Impact Award for outstanding contributions in education industry. In 2013, it was acquired by Rosetta Stone.

5. Panorama Education

Panorama Education leverages the power of Big Data to help schPanorama Educationools address pressing problems. Panorama provides a survey and analytics platform to conduct surveys either online or on paper and collect constructive feedback. Over 4,000 school districts, charter networks, and state governments use the platform to solve such issues as parent involvement, bullying prevention, school safety and student engagement. Last October, Panorama received $4 million from Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerberg’s organization Startup:Education and is using the funds to grow their team.

6. EverTrueEverTrue

EverTrue provides a better way for the educational community to connect. Their mobile platform not only serves as an alumni networking hub, but also enables institutions to tap into donor databases and easily fundraise. Following EverTrue’s graduation from Boston Techstars, the company raised $1.3 million, plus an additional $5.25 million in March of 2013. The growing company set up shop in a new office in the Seaport at the end of last year, and continues to show promising growth.

7. peerTransfer

peerTransfer is one of the fastest-growing companies in the Hub. The company saw 400 percent growth last year, expects 200 percent growth in 2014, and has raised a total of $21.2 million.

peerTransfer is on a mission topeerTransfer fix the unfair and broken international tuition payments system. Using peerTransfer, students can simply and securely pay for tuition and fees using their home currency. With so many students getting ripped off, peerTransfer fulfills an urgent need for both students and schools. The company now works with over 350 schools and is on track to process $1 billion this year.

8. Flashnotes

Flashnotes is an online peer-to-peer marketplace for buying and selling class study materials. After raising $1.5 million last year, Flashnotes has Flashnotesexpanded to include live video tutorials, offering another medium for students to improve their grades and/or make money. In the past year, the company has acquired Moolguides, NoteUtopia, and raised an additional $3.6 million. Over 200 schools are on Flashnotes platform and the company continues to experience high growth month after month

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Helping Your Teams Grow Through Coaching

By: Phil Holberton, Adjunct faculty at Brandeis Graduate Professional Studies

Originally from: http://holberton.com/helping-your-teams-grow-through-coaching/

As team leaders, we evaluate our team members and expect them to do the job up to our standards. Sometimes our standards are out of sync with their ability or training. After all, coachingthese individuals have not traveled in the same shoes as we have and may not have the skills or cognitive preparation to achieve what we expect. Therefore coaching becomes an integral part of helping teams grow to the next level.

In my experience, the most effective leaders shine when they are helping others day in and day out. This is where coaching enters the picture. Those team leaders who are really performing up to their capability (in a leadership capacity) are consistently coaching their colleagues (and not trying to micro-manage their activities). Individuals don’t appreciate being managed. But, they are more open to coaching if the coach immediately establishes his or her desire to help the individual meet their established goals.

The first and most important coaching skill is to be in the moment, not distracted by six different things on your mind. Coaching is about How-To-Minimize-Distractionsrespect for each other. There is no more predictable way to show lack of respect as not being “present” or “engaged” during a conversation. I once had a boss whose eyes would become “fish eyes” during our conversations. Do you think I was being heard? Do you think I respected him?

Secondly, a good coach (team leader) will seek to understand by asking open-ended, empowering questions. It is very difficult to understand what is going on in someone else’s head if we ask simple yes/no questions. Questions need to be open-ended so we fully understand the complexity of an individual’s state of mind.

A third critical skill is the need for the coach to suspend judgment and remain reflective and objective. Being contemplative shows that you understand the thoughts or feelings in the conversation. These first three skills will help develop understanding, balance, and respect—all very important ingredients in a successful coaching relationship.

0x600-636x310The fourth critical skill is affirming the conversation. This action brings into focus the individual’s desire to move ahead, whether it’s an improvement in performance or learning new skills and growing as a professional or human being.
These skills, when practiced and used daily, will help you become the most effective leader imaginable.

Help your team grow. Be a coach not a just a team leader or boss.

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Student Speaker & GPS Graduate: Rob Havasy

rob_havasy casual cropped low-res

Rob Havasy, Brandeis GPS’ student speaker for commencement, is graduating with his Master of Science in Health and Medical Informatics. Rob is currently the Corporate Team Lead for Product & Technology Development at PartnersHealthcare, Center for Connected Health. Rob is passionate about technology and its potential to significantly improve the outcomes of our healthcare system. His unique combination of experience – understanding the science, the business, and the technical aspects of healthcare allow him to approach problems from a variety of perspectives.

Rob explains, “after starting a career in a new industry, the Brandeis Health and Medical Informatics program gave me the knowledge and insights I needed to quickly understand and tackle the challenges facing healthcare”

Rob notes that interacting with faculty and students from around the country and around the world provided him valuable diversity of opinions about the real issues we face on a daily basis. The flexible format of Brandeis GPS courses enabled him to focus on both his career and education at the same time. He was able to immediately apply his classroom learning to his job.

“In an academic medical environment, education is highly valued; everyone has letters

An example of Rob's photography

An example of Rob’s photography

after their name. Adding the MS, along with the Brandeis name has generated new opportunities for me within my organization.”

Outside of his career, Rob enjoys photography, his motorcycle, blogging and spending time with his daughter. Rob currently lives in central Massachusetts.

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