Brandeis GPS Blog

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

Category: Faces of GPS (page 1 of 13)

Faces of GPS: Meet Abigail Kim – Student Advisor

In this next addition of Faces of GPS, we’re thrilled to introduce Abigail Kim, who will be taking on the role of Student Advisor. Read below to learn more about Abigail and her position at GPS!

Get to know Abigail!

Q: What are some fun facts about you?

I absolutely love to cook. It’s my favorite creative outlet. I love looking at a bunch of recipes and then winging it from there- it usually turns out pretty good. Fitness is also a huge part of my life. In addition to my role as a Student Advisor at GPS, I also teach pilates classes part time.

Q: Could you tell us a bit about your background?

I grew up in a small town in Connecticut (Somers) so I knew that for my undergrad experience, I wanted to try a bigger city out. I completed my Bachelor’s degree at Suffolk University in Boston, MA and studied Psychology and International Affairs. After graduating, I started working in college admissions at Wentworth Institute of Technology as well as Northeastern University. While working full time at Northeastern, I enrolled in a Master’s degree program through their College of Professional Studies, a fully remote, asynchronous degree program very similar to our GPS. My time in my graduate studies was awesome. I loved the flexibility that the program provided and the experience working with students and faculty based all over the United States and even all over the world.

Q: What inspired you to work at GPS?

In my previous job, part of my role entailed serving as a student advisor at a private High School. This part soon became my favorite aspect of my role. I loved connecting with my students and helping them to succeed in their studies. When I decided to move on from my previous role, I knew that I wanted to focus on positions that would help me find that advisor title again.

Q: What are the responsibilities of your role at GPS?

All things related to supporting GPS students and keeping them on track in their programs! I’ll be here to assist you with registering for courses, suggestions for upcoming courses to take, navigating relationships with your instructors, and making sure you’re on track with and aware of all registration deadlines and start dates. I’m also here to serve as your first point of contact, any question you have or anytime you don’t know who to go to, you can come to me and I’ll help connect you with the right person.

Q: What excites you the most about your new position at GPS? What are you most looking forward to?

Having experienced what it was like to complete my Master’s degree in an asynchronous, online program, this role at GPS seemed like the perfect fit for me. Knowing the challenges and rewards of juggling a full time job, a personal life, and a degree program is something that I look forward to supporting my students with. I’m looking forward to building relationships with the students that I advise and helping them with anything they need to help make their experience in their program a success.

To connect with Abigail or any other member of the GPS advising team, please visit our Advising page.

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

Faces of GPS: Meet Meredith Faxon – Assistant Director of Admissions

In the past few months, we have been lucky enough to welcome several new members to the GPS team. To introduce these outstanding individuals to the rest of the community, we’re bringing back Faces of GPS!

The first person we’d like to introduce is Meredith Faxon, our new Assistant Director of Admissions.

Get to know Meredith!

Q: What are some fun facts about you?

In my free time you can find me walking my dog, reading, watching new and old films, hiking, skiing, or trying new restaurants with my partner. We bought our first home in July 2022 and I expect most of my free time will be spent on house projects! 

Q: Could you tell us a bit about your background?

I am a New Hampshire native and can honestly say I love living there. I grew up in Bedford, NH and spent a lot of time playing soccer, spending time with my brother and sister outside, and hiking, skiing, and camping. I started my undergraduate degree in Virginia, and ultimately decided to come back to the University of New Hampshire to finish my degree in Marketing and Economics. I met lifelong best friends at UNH, and was fortunate enough to spend a semester in London, where my world truly opened up. I traveled Europe nearly every weekend, and discovered my passion for exploration and global learning. 

After graduation I spent two years working at the University of New Hampshire as an international student recruiter, where I frequented East and Southeast Asia. Some of the best times of my  life were discovering these new countries that I never dreamed I would visit. This experience also opened my eyes to the field of higher education, admissions, program management, and recruitment, and I have not looked back since! 

I spent three years working at Phillips Exeter Academy as the Assistant Director of Global Initiatives, where I was able to learn more about a niche internal admissions process. I worked on sending high school students abroad for cultural exchange, language learning, and DEI initiatives, and even got to visit Peru before the pandemic. It was during this time I also decided to pursue my graduate degree, a Master of Science in Higher Education, from Purdue University. This program was very similar to Brandeis GPS programs in that it was fully online, part-time, and asynchronous. My graduate experience at Purdue prepared me for a position working in a higher education online learning setting. Now here I am at Brandeis GPS! I feel well prepared for this role as I reflect back on my experiences in recruitment, admissions, sales, and my own online learning experience. 

Q: What inspired you to work at GPS?

I feel that I am able to offer multiple perspectives to my new role as Assistant Director of Admissions at Brandeis GPS. My experience working higher education sales and recruitment opened my eyes to admissions, and I knew I wanted to learn more. I also have been an online graduate student, so I can relate to both the prospective and current students at Brandeis GPS. Brandeis University is well known for its research activity and academic contributions to multiple fields, and I wanted to be a part of that as well.

Q: What excites you the most about your new position at GPS? What are you most looking forward to?

I’m excited to help students begin a journey that will change the course of their careers and set them on a path they are passionate about. I remember making the decision to pursue an online graduate degree and it was a really exciting time for me. I’m happy to be a part of that alongside Brandeis GPS students, in addition to working with the great team here and learning more about higher education recruitment, Slate, and admissions/sales.

To connect with Meredith or any other member of the GPS admissions team, please visit our Admissions Advisors page.

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

Communication for Effective Leadership

It may go without saying, but communication is a prevalent and critical component of today’s workforce. The skillset is especially essential for professionals seeking to excel in a leadership role. Regardless of industry, professional communications is imperative for leading effective meetings, mitigating crises, and navigating negotiations and conflict resolution.

“Communications is a critical part of doing business, especially in today’s environment. News travels fast. A bad customer experience can become a social media sensation before the CEO is even informed of the problem,” said Mary Caraccioli, Chief Communications Officer for The Central Park Conservancy. “On the flip side, you can use the power of social media to engage directly (and more deeply) with customers, employees and other stakeholders. You can use the power of the communications revolution to your advantage by making communications part of your business strategy.”

Mary Caraccioli HeadshotCaraccioli is teaching a master’s-level course in Communication for Effective Leadership, a fully online, 10-week class that will help students build on their critical thinking skills and apply oral and written communication strategies to solve organizational problems and drive organizational change. Throughout the course, students will focus on topics such as negotiation and facilitation, crisis communications and public relations, virtual and global communications, and stakeholder management.

By the end of Communication for Effective Leadership, students should be able to:

  • Develop, execute and measure communication plans to manage stakeholders, solve organizational problems and drive organizational change.
  • Adapt communication strategies and use digital technologies to align with organizational, cultural, virtual, and global needs.
  • Build a portfolio of communication campaigns including crisis response, company positioning, and media statements.

This course is available for professional development or as part of several GPS graduate programs. To learn more, submit your information or contact the  GPS office for more information or to request a syllabus: 781-736-8787 or gps@brandeis.edu.

Rabb School 2021 Commencement Ceremony Celebrates Communication, Helping Others, and Growth

The Rabb School of Continuing Studies awarded diplomas to 108 Graduate Professional Studies (GPS) students at its 2021 commencement ceremony on Sunday, May 23. Although a virtual experience will never be able to replace the gravitas of an in-person ceremony, we do sincerely hope everyone enjoyed the stream, and we are very proud of all of our graduates for their tremendous accomplishments!

Rabb School of Continuing Studies is one of the four schools at Brandeis University. Dedicated to providing working professionals a world class education, Rabb continuously innovates its approach to teaching. The GPS students who have earned their master of science degrees today have done so fully online, with many of them working full-time jobs. 

Arthur Harvey, this year’s commencement keynote speaker, is an alumni of Brandeis GPS graduating with an MS in Information Technology Management degree. For the past 35 years, Harvey has worked in healthcare informatics with expertise building high-performing teams at provider organizations. He currently serves as Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer at Boston Medical Center Health System, and is on the Brandeis GPS Health Informatics advisory boards. 

“The most valuable lessons I took from my time as a graduate student were not really about specifics, they were about general principles: communication, deep analysis, data-driven decision-making, and how to work with all kinds of people in all situations,” Harvey said. Quoting Justice Brandeis, he added, “Most of the things worth doing in the world had been declared impossible before they were done.”

Harvey continued on to say, “I have three things I would ask you to consider as you return to the industry. First off, what is my organization trying to accomplish and how can I help? Does my team know this as well? Next, what new skills have I acquired or practiced lately? Growth is good. Lastly, what have I done recently to help along the career of one of my team members or a colleague? In my experience, we learn a lot about ourselves when we help others.”

The full breakdown of diplomas awarded is as follows:

  • MS in Bioinformatics (8 graduates)
  • MS in Digital Innovation for FinTech (3 graduates)
  • MS in Digital Marketing and Design (9 graduates)
  • MS in Health and Medical Informatics (7 graduates)
  • MS in Health Informatics (6 graduates)
  • MS in Information Security (1 graduate)
  • MS in Information Security Leadership (6 graduates)
  • MS in Information Technology Management (1 graduate)
  • Graduate Certificate in Learning Analytics (1 graduate)
  • MS in Learning Experience Design (1 graduate)
  • MS in Project and Program Management (36 graduates)
  • MS in Robotic Software Engineering (2 graduates)
  • Master of Software Engineering (6 graduates)
  • MS in Strategic Analytics (12 graduates)
  • MS in Technology Management (4 graduates)
  • MS in User-Centered Design (5 graduates)

View a recording of the commencement ceremony here. Congratulations again to our graduates!

Brandeis GPS Faculty Bring Industry Experience to Fully Online Graduate Programs

There is a diverse range of expertise that Brandeis GPS faculty bring to our fully online master’s programs. To learn more about our faculty, and how they impact the student body, we spoke to Brittany Carr, Director of Faculty Operations.

Please can you introduce yourself and tell us what your role is at GPS?

Hi, everyone! My name is Brittany Carr, and I am the Director of Faculty Operations. Some of my responsibilities include recruiting, hiring, and onboarding new adjunct faculty for the school. I am also the liaison between the GPS faculty and the rest of the Brandeis community. When you are coming into such a large institution, such as Brandeis (especially while remote) it can be a bit tricky to navigate it all. I am here to help make things easier for the faculty.

When you recruit faculty, what are some of the reasons why they choose to teach at GPS?

Instructors are interested in joining the team here at GPS because they understand we value the importance of hiring industry practitioners for the role. Additionally, as part-time adjuncts, they can still focus on the valuable work they are involved in at their full-time job. We also run our fully online programs 100% asynchronous, which means that both students and faculty can be based anywhere in the world.

What makes GPS faculty unique in comparison to faculty at other online graduate schools?  

While we require that every new instructor participates in a 6-week teaching training course, our faculty are not lifelong academics by design. We look for professionals on the forefront of their industry, who have a passion to share their work with our students. We value the real-world experiences they bring into the classroom and can provide that hands-on educational experience to our students.

What is the intersection between students and faculty at GPS? How would you describe the student-faculty relationship?

Here at GPS, we keep the class size smaller to ensure that every student feels connected to their classmates and the instructor. Because our programs are virtual, I have found that our faculty work even harder to foster relationships with their students. In addition to the weekly assignments and facilitation, our faculty host weekly office hours over Zoom. As industry leaders, our instructors have often stepped in as mentors on various students’ projects. 

Brandeis GPS welcomes applications for its adjunct faculty pool on an ongoing basis. To view current open positions, please visit our Current Openings page. If you do not see a position that aligns with your experience, feel free to apply to a program – we will keep your application on file for when a potential matching position arises.

Why I Chose Brandeis GPS

We know that pursuing a master’s degree can be overwhelming, particularly for students who work full-time and are already balancing professional and personal commitments. We also know that every student has a unique reason that drives him or her to return to school and complete their degree.

 Hi, I’m Zanefa Walsh, a Brandeis GPS alum. I’m usually a private person but decided to share my why for pursuing the MS in Digital Marketing and Design because little did I know that the decision would be a stepping stone to where I am today: a digital communications and social cohesion consultant.

The fully online program, which consists of courses such as digital marketing strategy, writing for digital environments, and multichannel marketing campaigns, appealed to me during a time when I wanted to expand my knowledge to better meet the increasing marketing needs of my employer, which at the time was Brandeis. As soon as I learned that employees received 100% tuition remission, I started to explore courses even though I worried that adjusting to online learning would be challenging. I was delighted to learn that GPS offers the opportunity to take up to two courses before deciding to apply to a graduate program. After taking the two courses, I felt invigorated by the high-quality instruction and collaborative environment, that I applied.

I already had a master’s degree from another school, but the second time around as a graduate student differed from my first experience. I was now a mother, married, and working full-time. Finding ways to balance these conflicting responsibilities was essential. Yes, there were times when stress levels were high,  but it was my discipline, an invaluable support system, and effective time management that got me through the three-year journey. 

While expanding my knowledge was a major reason why I pursued this degree, deep down, it was so much more. My why was to prove to myself, and possibly other women of color, that taking on new opportunities and challenges leads to growth, whether you succeed or fail. No one else is as invested in your personal and professional growth as you. A year after completing the degree, I grew so much so that I had the confidence and determination to start my own consulting business in 2019.

With the knowledge gained from my GPS courses, along with over 15 years of work experience in the digital space, I now know what it takes to successfully conceive, produce, and execute a diverse range of data-driven multichannel marketing and communication strategies that build awareness, drive engagement, and foster a sense of belonging/community. Without a doubt, my decision to pursue a graduate degree at Brandeis GPS had an immediate and life-changing impact on my life.  

For more information on the Digital Marketing and Design program or other online master’s degrees available at GPS, please visit brandeis.edu/gps.

Open source micro-courses that provide the foundation you need to give back to the community

One of the biggest benefits of this partnership is that while the OSI ensures access to open source technology leaders who design and facilitate each course, Brandeis University provides years of experience ensuring that the courses are designed to their standards and that each facilitator is prepared as a teacher as well as an OSS expert. – Ken Udas, program chair of the Open Source Technology Management program

The online Open Source Technology Management program at Brandeis is dedicated to enhancing and supporting the OSS community through content that is founded in the principles of software freedom and collaborative development. The program, a partnership between Brandeis University and the Open Source Initiative (OSI), provides the foundation for open source professionals to expand their skills and give back to the open source community and beyond.

Watch Ken Udas, program chair, explain why the OSI/Brandeis partnership is unique and how professionals benefit from the micro-courses experience.

As program chair, Ken oversees course content and helps ensure that the courses and program remain relevant. He has served in a variety of teaching and management roles at a number of esteemed universities. Ken is also the co-founder of the Educause Constituency Group on Openness and the Jasig 2-3-98 project that are focused on the emergence and adoption of open and agile practices, policies, and initiatives.

When you sign up for one of the program’s offerings, which consists of micro-courses, digital badges, a certificate, or graduate credit, you’ll benefit from Ken’s expertise as well as from leading experts in the field. You will also receive top-notch instruction from known leaders in the open source industry. In addition, you’ll engage with a curriculum that has been influenced and shaped by instrumental advisory board members. Ultimately, the micro-courses and program provide a rewarding experience as you meet, collaborate with, and learn from fellow open source professionals who will impact how you decide to give back to your community.

Join Ken in a live chat on Thursday, June 18 at 12 p.m. EST.  He will be available to answer questions pertaining to the upcoming micro-course, Cultivate an Open Source Community (starts July 6), and the other program offerings. Please register for this free online chat.

UPDATE (6/25/20): Join Ken for another live chat on Monday, June 29 at 12 p.m. EST.  Again, he will be available to answer questions pertaining to the upcoming micro-course, Cultivate an Open Source Community (starts July 6), and the other program offerings. Please register for this free online chat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brandeis GPS Class of 2020 celebrates graduation virtually

“Over the past 70 years, the university has remained committed to providing access to competent and curious students from all walks of life, including those who could not give up their careers and families and come to campus full time.” – Dr. Lynne Rosansky, Interim Vice President for the Rabb School of Continuing Studies, in her opening address.

The Rabb School of Continuing Studies honored 111 Graduate Professional Studies (GPS) graduates with a virtual celebration on May 26, 2020. Student speaker, Charlie D’Angelo, a graduate of the MS in Digital Marketing and Design program, addressed the Class of 2020, along with guest speaker, Sarah McEneaney, Partner and Digital Talent Leader for PricewaterhouseCoopers.

In her opening address, Rosansky congratulated graduates on their hard work and dedication during their master’s degree programs. “It’s a great accomplishment, and you should be very proud of your success,” said Rosansky.

She went on to add, “I would like to note that for most of you who have reached this milestone, you have not done so without support and encouragement of others. So, for family and friends who have stood by you over the years of your graduate studies, here’s a tribute to them.” She looks forward to when the community can come together in-person to celebrate and greet graduates, their family, and friends.

Rosansky honored Project and Program Management instructor Nadeem Malik as the recipient of this year’s Rabb School Outstanding Teacher Award. “Nadeem has a reputation for going above and beyond for students and for being responsive to the changing needs of the PPM program,” she said.

Dedicated instructors, such as Malik, shape the learning experience for GPS students. D’Angelo talked about the various benefits of studying at Brandeis GPS, including his appreciation for the faculty.

“I can honestly say every class I took I applied what I learned, and often immediately at my job; and the knowledge has helped me immeasurably to succeed.”

The direct correlation between D’Angelo’s coursework and his job, his insightful classmates, and learning from outstanding faculty, provided opportunities for him to excel in his professional life.

D’Angelo went on to encourage his fellow classmates to be lifelong learners: “Don’t lose your curiosity for learning.”

Similarly, McEneaney stressed the importance of continuing to learn. “A continuous learning mindset removes barriers and perceived constraints from where your potential and opportunities overlap. And, developing varied approaches to problem-solving and gathering rich experiences, those are the capabilities that make you unstoppable.”

“Each of you can be a force in leveling the opportunity field for so many others,” McEneaney informed graduates, “by helping out others who don’t look like us; who don’t think like us. Those that don’t have natural connections or relationships opening doors for them.”

“The most successful and effective leaders in the future are the inclusive ones,” said McEneaney.

Graduates’ names were read by the chairs of each program. The full breakdown of diplomas awarded is as follows:

  • MS in Bioinformatics (8 graduates)
  • MS in Digital Innovation for FinTech (1 graduate)
  • MS in Digital Marketing and Design (10 graduates)
  • MS in Health and Medical Informatics (16 graduates)
  • MS in Information Security (2 graduates)
  • MS in Information Security Leadership (3 graduates)
  • MS in Information Technology Management (3 graduates)
  • MS in Instructional Design and Technology (1 graduate)
  • MS in Project and Program Management (30 graduates)
  • Master of Software Engineering (8 graduates)
  • MS in Strategic Analytics (17 graduates)
  • MS in Technology Management (6 graduates)
  • MS in User-Centered Design (6 graduates)

You can view our virtual graduate celebration until June 8, 2020. Congratulations to our graduates!

Marketing 101: What’s Push versus Pull?

By Steven Dupree

Fishing on Ashumet Pond is one of the most relaxing things in the world. But good luck catching anything! Unless you’re Kevin. Kevin loves fish, he wears fish shirts, he puts fish bumper stickers on his car. Kevin once researched whether a surplus of carbon dioxide causes cataracts in fish. And Kevin catches fish when he wants to.

The way I see it, there are two ways I can someday snag fish like Kevin (besides trading in my Brandeis mathematics degree for marine biology, of course):

  1. Improve fishing skill
  2. Add fish to pond

Step One: Pull

Hopefully, your product or service already has an audience out there. They’re looking for you. It’s your responsibility to make customer value as available as possible. Find prospects wherever they are and meet their demand.

When I worked at LogMeIn, we coined the term “active seekers” to describe this population. These are the hungry folk. The old lawnmower broke and they’re searching for “John Deere riding mower” so they don’t have to collect and dump lawn clippings.

Pull marketing starts with search-based advertising (Google Ads) but it doesn’t end there. If you offer a niche consumer product or a B2B product, there may be digital marketplaces or directories where you want to be. Signs for bananas where the monkeys are famished.

Pull marketing (alternatively known as inbound marketing, demand harvesting) has two advantages: it’s relatively cheap and it converts quickly. The primary drawback? You can do a limited amount of pull marketing before you hit some invisible wall.

Ok, let’s suppose I’ve practiced casting my fishing rod. I know how to tie a fly. But the fish still don’t bite! What now?

Step Two: Push

You may need to stock the pond.

If you’re solving a pain point that customers don’t even know they have, then you may not have much of an audience (yet). And even if they know the pain point all too well, your audience may have trouble discovering you if they are not searching.

Push marketing (alternatively known as outbound marketing, demand generation) includes the vast majority of online and offline media: newsletters, display advertising, Facebook ads, most social media, billboards, door hangers, and sides of buses…to name a few.

Why are there so many more channels for push advertising? After all, the unit economics are typically more expensive than pull advertising. It takes longer to convert dollars into customers due to that nuisance of “educating” the customer. Why not invest 100% in paid search? Well, you simply may not be able to.

Push marketing, in contrast to pull, is virtually unlimited. Advertisers desperately need customers, publishers will gladly take your money, and all the while your target audience will do whatever they feel like. Success depends on delivering the right message to the right customer at the right time. Good push marketing does just that.

One year, they stocked Ashumet Pond with extra trout. I’m still a novice fisherman but I managed to catch one or two.

If Pull and Push Don’t Work?

Even if your audience doesn’t know or care about your product or service, you mustn’t lose hope. It may be costly to acquire customers and difficult to demonstrate positive return-on-investment “ROI” in the early days. But it won’t always be this way.

Ask yourself: can an “active seeker” population develop as your early customers share their experiences with your product or service–thus enabling you to add pull marketing to your mix? Rising demand for your product or service generates inbound interest. This enables pull marketing and defrays your acquisition costs. 

Or: will it become prohibitively expensive to rise above the noise–as competitors enter and your target market evolves? Customer education is always an option, but it’s expensive. You can do as much push marketing as you need if only you have an unlimited budget. Success still depends upon how receptive customers are to the value you provide.

Rule of Thumb:

In marketing and fishing, as in skeet shooting: pull first, then push!

Steven Dupree is chair of the MS in Digital Marketing and Design program at Brandeis Graduate Professional Studies. In his day job, Steven is VP, Marketing at Amava, a platform helping active retirees find opportunities to earn, learn, travel and more. He has previously held investing and operating roles including VP, Marketing at SoFi, the first and largest provider of student loan refinancing, and VP, Online Marketing Operations at LogMeIn, an early software-as-a-service provider of remote access and collaboration tools. He mentors entrepreneurs for Endeavor Global and Reforge, and serves on the board of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific.

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.

What role does Design Thinking play in Learning Experience Design?

By Brian Salerno

Brian Salerno, Program Chair, Learning Experience Design at Brandeis UniversityIn recent years, Design Thinking techniques, developed and adapted by organizations such as IDEO.org and the Stanford d.School, have become increasingly popular approaches utilized to drive creative thinking and innovation within companies, non-profit organizations, governmental agencies, educational institutions, and other settings. These Design Thinking techniques include a variety of structured activities and approaches individuals or groups can engage in to inspire new creative innovations, to guide the ideation and problem-solving process, and to explore ways to implement new ideas.

<<Join Brian’s upcoming webinar: Diving into Learning Experience Design>>

Simultaneously, the discipline of Learning Experience Design has emerged as the latest evolution of instructional design. Inspired by and infused with approaches from user experience design (UX), learning and cognitive sciences, learning analytics, interface design (UI), universal design for learning (UDL), and educational technology, Learning Experience Design (or LX for short) is a design discipline that emphasizes creation of impactful learning experiences that place the learner in the center. Learning Experience Design requires that we understand the personal, educational, and even professional contexts within which our learners reside, and to create a learning ecosystem that supports the whole learner and their educational goals. Successful LX Designers understand that an effective learning experience is about more than just content and assessment, it includes the visual and experiential aspects of a learning environment, the analysis of the efficacy of learning resources, the social and emotional domains of learning, and the tools and processes learners engage with in order to achieve a transformational educational experience.

Niels Floor, a dutch educator who is credited as being one of the earliest proponents of the practice of LX Design, describes the Learning Experience Design process as starting with a question or learning problem that needs to be solved, and continues with extensive research about the learner and the desired learning outcome, then the process proceeds with the design phase which includes idea generation and the development of a concept. Once the concept is solidified, LX designers move on to the development phase where a prototype is created, then the testing phase allows designers to ensure the design is truly learner-centered. Finally, after some iteration and adjustment, the learning experience is ready to launch.

If you’re at all familiar with Design Thinking already, these steps of Floor’s LX Design process should resonate because they are very closely aligned to the Design Thinking model created by the Standford d.School, which includes the steps: Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype, and Test.

Design thinking steps: Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype and Test

Source: dschool.stanford.edu

The “Empathize” step in the Design Thinking process closely aligns to the “Research” step in LX Design, as “Design” aligns with “Ideate”, “Prototype” with “Build”, and “Test” with (of course) “Test”. This alignment makes it easy for a Learning Experience Designer to draw upon a variety design thinking techniques to support their work building learner-centered educational experiences. Some of the Design Thinking techniques most commonly used by LX Designers include:

  • Persona development: researching and creating an aggregated and detailed profile of the learners likely to be engaged in the learning experience
  • Journey mapping: creating a framework to identify key interaction points in a learning experience.
  • Rapid prototyping: building a number of prototypes to help visualize what a learning experience will look and feel like when complete.
  • “How might we” ideation: a process for quickly brainstorming as many possible design solutions that you can in a finite period of time to foster creative thinking.
  • Piloting: a longer-term test of your learning experience design solution, to gather information about it’s effectiveness.

These are just a few examples of Design Thinking techniques that can be easily utilized by LX Designers to support the learning experience design process. All of this is simply to convey that while Learning Experience Design and Design Thinking are not the same thing, Design Thinking provides a toolbox that LX Designers can draw upon to support the research, ideation, prototyping, and testing processes necessary for creating deeply engaging, creative, and learner-centered educational experiences. Those of us who teach Learning Experience design as a discipline and utilize it’s methodologies in practice emphasize the importance of being responsive to the unique needs of the learner. Design Thinking provides LX Designers with several useful tools to aid in the creative problem-solving that makes learner-centered design possible.

Brian Salerno is the program chair of the Master of Science in Learning Experience Design at Brandeis Graduate Professional Studies. He is the Associate Director for Learning Design in the Center for Digital Innovation in Learning at Boston College.

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.

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