Brandeis GPS Blog

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

Tag: user centered design (page 1 of 3)

Brandeis GPS Student Spotlight

Headshot of McKenzie Little

Student Spotlight

McKenzie Little ‘23

California

Design Automation Engineer

Program: MS in User-Centered Design 

In her spare time, McKenzie likes to visit with friends, travel, hike, dance, bake, crochet, rock climb, and practice yoga. In her most recent trip, McKenzie spent a month in Washington State with her boyfriend and several friends working remotely and exploring the state on the weekends. Exploring new places is when she is happiest!

Get to know McKenzie Little! 

Why did you choose Brandeis GPS?

I chose Brandeis GPS due to the courses in the User-Centered Design program, as the topics were aligned with my career goals. I felt that I would get a lot of hands-on experience through project work and that I would learn a lot from the mentorship of industry professionals instructing the courses.  

What inspired you to choose your field of study?

I chose User-Centered Design because improving people’s lives through design and research aligned with my values. I also enjoy being able to express creativity through sketching and prototyping. Also, doing a part-time work rotation with a User Experience team at my workplace really solidified my desire to pursue this career.

How have you enjoyed your experience at Brandeis thus far? 

I have had a fantastic experience so far. I have met many talented students with similar interests and goals in the program. The instructors have been so helpful and inspiring to learn from.

What are your hopes and aspirations for the rest of your time at Brandeis? 

I am looking forward to learning as much as possible in the four remaining courses I have left in the program. I hope to continue to strengthen my relationships with the other students in my classes and to learn from them as well.

What are your plans for after graduation?

After graduation, I am looking forward to applying what I have learned in the program and expanding my knowledge as I grow my skills in the industry.

What advice would you give to incoming students?

I highly recommend participating in the student mentorship program. My advisor reached out to me about this opportunity shortly before my first course in the program, and it was extremely helpful to have a mentor to share questions with as I progressed through the first few courses.

What has been your favorite class to-date? 

My favorite class so far has been User Interface Design with Dave Lumerman. This course is an elective, and it truly pushed me on a constructive way to improve my skills and grow. I took it early on in my program and it helped me get more comfortable with design ideation as well as prototyping.

For more information on the User-Centered Design program or any other GPS programs, visit our website.

2022 UXPA Boston Fair

On May 25th, Brandeis University was pleased to sponsor the annual UXPA Boston Fair. The event, held virtually on Zoom and Kumospace, offered students and career changers the opportunity to receive mentorship and guidance around career paths in the fields of user experience design, research, development, information architecture, and content strategy.

The fair was especially useful to students currently enrolled in Brandeis GPS’s User-Centered Design program. The online master’s program, which offers both full-time and part-time options, allows students to study at the intersection of psychology, creativity and technology, thus enabling them to gain a deeper understanding of user experience (UX) and engagement principles. 

It is clear from student testimonials that the UXPA Fair was a success on multiple fronts, offering students a wide range of learning experiences to complement their studies at Brandeis GPS.

Student Crystable Rangel found the career panel to be particularly interesting, stating that “each panelist had a diverse background and brought a unique perspective.” Rangel walked away from the panel with a new understanding of the importance of mentorship, saying that, “while I am learning a lot in my program, it has become very clear to me that I will also need a mentor to help with my growth and transition.”

Aashish Maskey, who attended the event from her home in Hawaii, also gained valuable insight from the career panel. She says, “It was great to have some of my questions answered in the group mentoring. I am transitioning into UX with previous experience with healthcare, clinical applications and background in art. It was good to know that some of the skills and knowledge that I already have could be my advantage in breaking into the field of UX.”

According to Gabriele Burke, breakout sessions were “the highlight” of the event, with “very knowledgeable instructors and very interactive sessions.” She says, “Instructors answered all my questions and took a lot of time, which was good for the small group sizes.” This helped Burke to gain useful information about preparing “specialized and tactical resumes.”

Other GPS students made valuable connections during the networking part of the fair. Student Abigail Grinberg stated, “I found it to be valuable to connect with others in the UX industry and hear about their varying experiences. Especially since I am new to the field, I appreciated hearing advice on how others went about finding their first UX jobs. It also was interesting to learn about the types of projects people are working on and the many applications of UX/UI.”

To read more about the learning and networking opportunities offered by Brandeis GPS, visit our website.

Faculty Spotlight: User-Centered Design

Faculty: Amy Deschenes

Program: User-Centered Design

Course: RUCD 140 Research Methods

Education: Simmons University, MLIS

Bio: Amy Deschenes is a leader in UX and digital accessibility in higher education. She is currently the Head of UX & Digital Accessibility at Harvard Library where she works with librarians and archivists on digital projects. In 2015 she led the establishment of the User Research Center, Harvard’s only usability and digital accessibility lab. She speaks about her work on a regular basis and has presented at conferences like Ladies That UX & UXPA. In addition to Research Methods, she also teaches RUCD 175 Universal Design & Digital Accessibility. You can see examples of her work on https://amydeschenes.com/.

Why is this course important or valuable to a UCD student?

This course gives you the opportunity to get real hands-on experience with a variety of UX research methods. You get to apply these concepts to a real research question or design problem of your choosing. It introduces you to key qualitative and quantitative research methodologies, including surveys, interviews, and usability testing. You also get to practice aspects of project management through your coursework. Even if you’re not intending to be a researcher full-time, this course will give you insight into why research is so important to user-centered design.

Why do you enjoy teaching this course?

This class is fun because students get to select their own research topics and I learn about subject areas outside of my own expertise through their work. In the past students have completed projects about how the pandemic impacted exercise preferences, preferences around video game player styles, and how pet owners find help online. I love being able to lead students through the process of applying the research methods in a real-world context.

For more information on the User-Centered Design MS or other online master’s degrees available at GPS, please visit brandeis.edu/gps.

UX is my superpower

Photo of David Lumerman.User experience is all about solving problems, and having a deep understanding of mechanics behind the actions people take gives a UX practitioner more tools to solve these problems.

Like Batman, the world’s greatest detective, you use a combination of the clues found in our surroundings, in user norms like heuristics, and active listening to users, and even the needs and goals of stakeholders to solve the problems, combat evil (or at least bad UX) ands save Gotham City.

This all begins with asking the right question.

As an adjunct professor at Brandeis the “Why” is something I explore with all the students in the program. The “Why” becomes the caped crusader’s utility belt, and all the tools fit into the various compartments. Understanding the “Why” is key to being able to deliver good UX and improvement for the people we are trying to help. Making things better, more efficient and easier to use is the key.

The most successful students in the program can not only relay the information but use this utility belt to extrapolate and apply the lessons to the work they produce.

By building a foundation of heuristics, applying critical thinking and good observation you can successfully tackle any UX task. The tools may evolve, the user’s gulf of understanding may be increased, but the fundamentals of what makes for good UX and good design form the bedrock of the user experience discipline

A good superhero is empathetic.

If you have ever observed participants in a one-on-one usability test you immediately begin to empathize with the people performing the actions. It’s actually one of the hardest things to do when running sessions, to not interject and alleviate the discomfort you are observing. When counseling students it is something I emphasize that you need to be comfortable with their discomfort for the greater good. The greater good of the project, the design and the user experience.

I see this struggle as a good thing. If UX folks are not bothered by the discomfort they are inflicting, maybe they are not empathizing enough.

UX is hard. It’s a relatively new field that fights to gain a seat at the table. I equate it sometimes as running head long into a brick wall, checking the wall for cracks, and shaking it off and doing it again.

The best of us have a passion for running into that wall. If given a choice, be Batman. Always be Batman.

 

Bio

David Lumerman, M.S., has been an Adjunct Professor at Brandeis University since 2017 conducting courses in including User Interface design, User Experience Design, Cognitive and Social Psychology of User-Centered Design, Design Operation and Leadership, and the Capstone in User-Centered Design. During this time he has redeveloped both the User Interface Design and Design Operation and Leadership courses.

Mr. Lumerman is the Corporate Vice President of User Experience at New York Life Insurance, where he develops engaging interaction for New York Life websites, applications and interactive experiences, and has done so for over 20 years. Previously, David developed online games and game shows with Pearson Television and Uproar! Games, most notably the interactive versions of “Family Feud” and “To Tell the Truth.” He earned his Masters degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and undergraduate degree from the School of Visual Arts in New York City.

An avid outdoorsman, David is proficient in Dutch Oven Cooking and is actively involved in running outdoor programs through the Boy Scouts of America. He has been married for over 30 years to his wife Dvorah, and has two sons, Sam and Henry, who are both Eagle Scouts.

Dave is the recipient of the 2022 “Rabb School Outstanding Teacher Award”.

For more information on the User-Centered Design MS or other online master’s degrees available at GPS, please visit brandeis.edu/gps.

Faculty Spotlight: Elizabeth Rosenzweig

Faculty: Elizabeth Rosenzweig

Program: User-Centered Design

Course: RUCD 190 Capstone

Awards: Usability Professionals Association: Lifetime Achievement Award 2009

Education: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, SM and Goddard College, B.A.

Bio: Elizabeth Rosenzweig is a design researcher whose mission is to use technology to make the world a better place. She believes that the best design comes from good research. This all starts with a user-centered design. From volunteer events, design challenges, and research projects. Elizabeth has been able to push the bounds of the current status quo and innovate. Examples include founding running World Usability Day, producing 4 Patents on intelligent design for image management and organizations, long-term impact on Medicare.gov, yearlong study on body-worn cameras, and other projects. Rosenzweig’s work can be seen at designresearchforgood.org

Why is this course important or valuable to a UCD student?

The Capstone course brings together all the skills and knowledge the UCD student has obtained from the UCD program. The Capstone allows them to apply these skills to a project of their choosing, perhaps one they have been thinking of for a while, or a brand new idea. This class is a wonderful opportunity to create a strong portfolio piece that they can use when they interview for a job.

Why do you enjoy teaching this course?

 I enjoy engaging with the students as they give birth, grow and refine their ideas. Since this is often one of the last classes, the UCD students come into the class with strong skills. The journey from the inception of their idea to a fully designed clickable prototype in one term is amazing.

Anything else you would like to share with a prospective student?

The final presentation is the best part because it provides the student with experience of presenting their original project to the UCD Advisory Board, who then provides support, mentorship, and invaluable feedback on the work.  The Advisory Board is a strong network of seasoned UCD professionals that helps build a strong network for the UCD student.

For more information on the User-Centered Design MS or other online master’s degrees available at GPS, please visit brandeis.edu/gps.

Brandeis GPS Student Spotlight

Student Spotlight

McKenzie Little ‘23

California

Design Automation Engineer

Program: MS in User-Centered Design

In her spare time, McKenzie enjoys hiking, camping, yoga, making coffee, and reading. 

 

Get to know McKenzie Little! 

Why did you choose Brandeis GPS?

I was really drawn to the courses listed in the program and the online flexibility for working professionals.

What inspired you to choose your field of study?

I was able to have a part-time work rotation with a UX team at my workplace and it really solidified my desire to pursue UX as a career.

How have you enjoyed your experience at Brandeis thus far? 

I start the first class in my program in a few short weeks! I am very excited to begin my studies online at Brandeis University. 

What are your hopes and aspirations for the rest of your time at Brandeis? 

I hope to learn as much as possible and make great connections with other students. 

What are your plans for after graduation?

I plan to work in the UX field.

For more information on the User-Centered Design program, visit: https://www.brandeis.edu/gps/academics/user-centered-design/index.html.

 

Brandeis GPS Student Spotlight

Amalia Cesare ‘21

User Experience Writer at The Vanguard Group in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania

Program: MS in User-Centered Design 

In her spare time, Amalia loves to explore the many trails in her area while she trains for a half marathon with her husband. During quarantine, she picked up gardening as a hobby and she is currently starting her second batch of seedlings to plant for the summer. She also lives in an area that is heavily concentrated with breweries, so she has enjoyed trying new suds and logging them on Untappd!

Get to know Amalia Cesare! 

Why did you choose Brandeis GPS?

I chose Brandeis for several reasons. I was looking for a program that would fit into my life in a realistic way. I have two bonus kids, a full-time job, and when I started the program I had recently become a new homeowner and was planning a wedding. Life was chaotic to say the least! I wanted a program that offered top-tier education while also offering me the flexibility to meet my other obligations. I also needed a program that was fully remote because I was not in a position to relocate.

What inspired you to choose your field of study?

The short answer is that I was both inspired and frustrated by my experience in the IT field. As a technical writer, I was essentially the first user of a product. My engineers would hand over a final build and ask me to document it. This process exposed a lot of product and experiences issues that we just didn’t have the bandwidth to fix based on where my work fell in the product development life cycle. I wanted to move into User Experience and position myself at the beginning of the product life cycle because I wanted to be able to design meaningful experiences and effect positive change for the users of the products I was working on. 

How have you enjoyed your experience at Brandeis thus far? 

To say that I’ve loved my experience at Brandeis would be an understatement! Brandeis has given me so many things: a chance to learn from industry experts, the opportunity to learn through doing, the ability to network with others in the industry, and the confidence to step out of my comfort zone. At my previous employer, I was able to take on additional responsibilities as a UX Designer/Writer in addition to my role as a technical writer. Recently, I was lucky enough to be able to start a new position as a User Experience Writer with The Vanguard Group. My experience at Brandeis gave me the knowledge and confidence to nail my interviews.

What are your hopes and aspirations for the rest of your time at Brandeis? 

I’m planning to complete my program in June of 2021. I hope that, during this time, I can continue to grow my UX network and showcase the knowledge I’ve accumulated with my capstone project. I also hope to continue mentoring students that are new to the program so they can have a successful and enjoyable experience at Brandeis!

What are your plans for after graduation?

While I don’t have any specific plans for after graduation, I’m hoping to continue learning and growing in my new role as a UX Writer. In the future, I’m hoping to transition into UX Research.

What advice would you give to incoming students?

Overall, I think the best advice that I could give to incoming students is to not rush through the program if you don’t have to. I’ve taken one class a session, which felt slow to me at first, but I’m so glad that I did. It gave me the opportunity to really focus on and absorb the material I was learning and to enjoy the process of gaining new skills. I’d also echo the advice of many others and say that you should never be afraid to ask questions! I came into this program without a background in design and was worried that it would put it at a disadvantage; it didn’t. If you have a question, just ask. There are many others in your class that have the same question (trust me!) and you’re not going to look silly for asking. This is the best opportunity to further your knowledge and level the playing field!

What has been your favorite class to-date? 

My favorite class so far has been Information Architecture! It was one of the more challenging classes that I’ve taken in the program, but coming from an English background, understanding how tightly language is tied to positive and usable experiences made me feel like I had the ability to apply my existing expertise in a new field. It was also my first exposure to user research, which was both exciting and terrifying! Having to conduct tests with users took me out of my comfort zone, but it has grown into an experience that I love.

For more information on the User-Centered Design program, visit: https://www.brandeis.edu/gps/academics/user-centered-design/index.html.

Brandeis GPS Student Spotlight

Lauren Haynes ‘23

Digital Marketing Specialist at PGIM Investments in New Jersey

Program: MS in User-Centered Design

In her spare time, Lauren enjoys long runs on the weekend and baking. 

Get to know Lauren Haynes! 

Why did you choose Brandeis GPS?

The Brandeis GPS program is great for those working full time or who require a flexible schedule. You get the experience of a full master’s program without having to make any sacrifices for work or your personal life. Also, it’s great to obtain a degree from a top-ranking university.

What inspired you to choose your field of study?

I gained some familiarity with UX in my current role and that sparked my interest in the field. UX challenges me to think differently and put myself in the shoes of the end-user. You want to create an experience that is not only useful but also pleasurable for your target audience.

How have you enjoyed your experience at Brandeis thus far? 

I love working on the assignments in this program. We work on real-life projects that are directly applicable to the real world. The best thing about UX is that it can be applied to all facets of business from designing a website interface to creating an onboarding program for new hires.

What are your hopes and aspirations for the rest of your time at Brandeis? 

I want to create relationships with my professors/peers and learn as much as I can. UX is a relatively new field and I want to absorb as much as I can. 

What are your plans for after graduation?

I am hoping to take more UX projects in my current role and provide added value to my team. 

What advice would you give to incoming students?

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. You’ll learn a lot from your professors who are leaders in their industry and classmates who can provide a unique perspective.

What has been your favorite class to-date? 

So far, I’ve only taken User Experience but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the class so far. It has challenged me to think differently and is directly applicable to my current role. 

For more information on the User-Centered Design program, visit: https://www.brandeis.edu/gps/future-students/learn-about-our-programs/user-centered-design.html.

Top jobs for 2020 reveal demand for skills that may surprise you

LinkedIn released its third annual emerging jobs report last month, and, as expected, AI and automation technology will continue to drive job growth across the world. Here in the U.S., the top job trends reveal that data science, robotic software engineering and online learning are among the fastest-growing industries in 2020.

What may be more surprising is that the pervasiveness of automation will likely lead to an increase in demand for the soft skills that robots can’t duplicate. According to the report, “the future of the tech industry relies heavily on people skills” that are necessary to complement and grow new technologies. Companies will be looking for employees who can demonstrate competencies in management, collaboration/team-building, communication and other areas that are impossible to automate.

If you’ve decided to skill up in any of these areas this year, make sure you’re choosing opportunities that provide training in both hard and soft skills. Brandeis University offers online programs and courses that not only tie directly to today’s emerging industries, but also allow you to develop stronger communication and leadership capabilities. Areas of focus include:

Brandeis Graduate Professional Studies is committed to creating programs and courses that keep today’s professionals at the forefront of their industries. To learn more, visit www.brandeis.edu/gps.

The Power of Learning Experience Design

By Carol Damm

Carol DammHow would you like to go on a week-long retreat to Hawaii, all expenses paid, with your colleagues to put together a framework to enable programmatic changes to how you offer your courses? This was what we termed an outrageous solution presented by a team of instructional designers and instructional technologists at a recent workshop I organized on Learning Experience Design in Higher Ed. We challenged the attendees to move outside of their comfort zone and to not let existing practice within higher ed to frame their thinking.

Featuring Brandeis University’s Brian Salerno, Gary David from Bentley University, and Melissa Kane at Brown University, the NERCOMP workshop’s goal was to show participants why and how they should be integrating learning experience design as a practice in higher ed.

Learning experience design applies user-centered design methodologies along with a deep understanding of cognitive psychology and learning sciences to creating impactful and transformative solutions for learners and the wider ecosystem within which learning happens. User-centered design methods have been adopted across industries because the approach effectively enables out-of-box thinking to identify problems and generate new solutions. At the same time, the approach remains grounded by keeping primary stakeholders — whether users or learners — at the center of the process.

So, while an all-expense paid trip to Maui would not be happening, these creative minds hit on an essential component of bringing about mandated change within a department: the faculty would need to work together to determine how to meet the mandate and the university would need to provide support for this effort by contributing to an attractive experience or focused time frame within which they can shape how they will meet this challenge. In order to improve the learning experience, those who construct that experience will need support.

The solution that the team provided incorporated other innovative practice as did all of the presentations made that day; whether supporting a faculty member who needed to revise a course based on student feedback, creating a professional development course for a diverse population of working professionals, or creating an IT solution to improve the student experience in a learning management system.

If you are interested in reviewing the slides of the presentation or reviewing some of the resources, you can find out more here.

 

Carol Damm is the Director of Programs and Assessment at Brandeis GPS and an adjunct faculty in the MS in Learning Experience Design program.

Faces of GPS is an occasional series that profiles Brandeis Graduate Professional Studies students, faculty and staff. Find more Faces of GPS stories here.

« Older posts

© 2022 Brandeis GPS Blog

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑

Protected by Akismet
Blog with WordPress

Welcome Guest | Login (Brandeis Members Only)