The Brandeis GPS blog

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

Tag: Brandeis graduate professional studies reviews (page 1 of 2)

#WhatsYourWhy Wednesday with Kristin Cataquet

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.

Last fall, we held a scholarship competition and asked our students to tell us their story — their why — behind their decision to enroll in a graduate program. This series will profile our scholarship winners.

Read Part 1 of #WhatsYourWhy Wednesday here.


travel-kcataquet-e1458147356686Graduate Professional Studies:
 I’m here with Kristin Cataquet, a student in our Master of Science in Strategic Analytics program. Congratulations on winning our first “What’s Your Why” scholarship! Go ahead and introduce yourself.

Kristin Cataquet: Thank you! My name is Kristin Cataquet. I’m from Washington D.C. but currently live in Boston.

GPS: How many courses have you taken with GPS so far?

KC: I have taken six courses, and I’m taking two this semester.

GPS: Wow, you’re almost done!

KC: Yes, and I am very excited about that!

GPS: Tell me more about what you do for work.

KC: I am a quality data analyst at Keurig Green Mountain, the single-serve coffee brewer. My responsibilities differ by the hour. I often work with engineers and leadership; looking at different analytical models to gain insight and make better decisions for our company.

GPS: What made you want to go back to school to get your graduate degree?

KC: When I was moving to Boston, I realized that a lot of the jobs that I was applying to preferred candidates with master’s degrees. I decided to do some research and see what kind of graduate programs are out there, and Brandeis came up. I travel a lot for work, and Strategic Analytics was one of the only programs that offered the subject matter I wanted while still enabling me to do my job the way I need to.

At first, I was just looking for that graduate school check mark. But since starting classes and even before then, I started to realize that I really do enjoy bettering myself and becoming better every day. GPS has really helped me fulfill that want and that need.

GPS: That’s great to hear, and it also segues into my next question: what made you choose Brandeis over the other schools you considered?

KC: It was a combination of the online nature of the program, the availability of the instructors and just the overall coursework. I took an online class during undergrad and felt like I did not learn anything and was under-challenged. But it’s a completely different story at GPS. The program is incredibly challenging, and I find it awesome and effective in terms of learning and retaining the information because while you’re partially self-teaching, you have guidance. You have the advantage of studying subject matter that is as high-level or low-level as you want. That option is necessary for students in analytics, where every job and company is different. You want to learn as much as possible in as little amount of time to make yourself more valuable.

GPS: What else do you hope to get out of this program?

KC: I work in a company where analytics is a relatively new field, and a lot of the higher-level employees in our department have left. This has given lower-level employees the opportunity to lead the way, and it would be great to be able to do that accurately and effectively. So, my goal is not necessarily a promotion, but to feel more confident in my own abilities and what I’m capable of doing. I’ve learned that I really do love what I do. It’s kind of like figuring out that you’re a really good soccer player and then pushing yourself to become a professional soccer player. I’ve realized that I’m good at this, but I want to be really good at this.

GPS: Speaking of soccer, what are some of your hobbies outside Keurig and the classroom?


kcataquet-salsa-dancing-e1458147459657KC:
Besides my full-time job, I work part-time at my old company. Outside of that, I probably play volleyball four times a week and my husband and I do a lot of salsa dancing. We love to hike and we love to travel.

GPS:  Is there anything else you want to tell us about your experience with Graduate Professional Studies?

KC: When I came into the program, I really thought it was going to solely focus on analytics — that I would learn tools about modeling and other new skills. And that’s partially what’s happening. But there is also a whole other level to the program that’s surprised me: it’s learning about leadership, being a good employee and being a good boss. It’s learning to conduct yourself more professionally, building communications skills, and changing your approach to how you view a company. I didn’t necessarily know that I needed those types of skills, but all of the sudden, even after just my first term at Brandeis, I’ve realized I know so much more about my company and how it operates. It has been really rewarding to not only acquire skills on the technical level but on the leadership and professional level as well.

Brandeis GPS Commencement Wrap-Up

Written by: Kelsey Whitaker, A Senior at Brandeis University

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Amyntrah Maxwell & Rabb VP Karen Muncaster

On May 17th, to the sounds of “Pomp and Circumstance”, the Rabb School of Graduate Professional Studies‘ class of 2015 donned their caps and gowns and received their diplomas. The ceremony awarded Master’s degrees in various fields  including: Bioinformatics, Health and Medical Informatics, Information SecurityIT ManagementProject & Program Management and Software Engineering. Students sat proudly and  enjoyed the student and main commencement speaker’s words of wisdom for their future.   As working professionals in their respective fields, each degree recipient juggled work, school, and personal  matters in order to earn their master’s degree.

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Student speaker, Louis Rosa III

The student speaker for the day was Louis Rosa III, who earned his Doctor of Medicine from Georgetown University’s School of Medicine and has over 30 years of experience in the fields of neurosurgery and radiation therapy. However, the day of commencement Rosa walked out with a newly earned diploma in Health and Medical Informatics. After all of his experience, why did Rosa pursue his degree from Brandeis GPS? “No matter how many patients I saw, I couldn’t have enough of an impact,” Rosa explained. Rosa went on to explain the impact his new degree would have on his career and his life.

The main Commencement speaker, Curtis H. Tearte, is a 1973 Brandeis graduate and also a  current Board of Trustees member. Tearte has vast experience in technology and business as former director, vice president and general manager of IBM “My experience at Brandeis exponentially changed the arc of my life,” he explained to the graduates. Tearte is also the founder of Tearte Associates, a firm dedicated to seeking out students with academic potential to become Tearte Scholars through his Family Foundation. His advice to the graduates was, “Keep putting out good and it will come back to us tenfold in unexpected ways.”

Commencement speaker, Curtis H. Tearte

In addition to the speakers, the Outstanding Teacher Award Recipient was presented to Leanne Bateman. Teaching at Brandeis since 2007, Bateman serves as Academic Program Chair and a faculty member for Project and Program Management and Strategic Analytics. Congrats, Leanne!

Congratulations to the 2015 graduates! You did it! Good luck in all your future plans and endeavors.

Want to see the live stream of commencement? You’re in luck! Watch it here.

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From Registered Nurse to Informatics Analyst

Theresa Harrigan is a graduate from Brandeis Graduate Professional Studies Master of Science in Health and Medical Informatics. She is currently an Informatics Business Analyst for EPIC implementation at Massachusetts General Hospital.

I am atheresa blog photo registered nurse and have worked in health care for more than two decades. If you had asked me 10 years ago if I would be furthering my education, I would likely have said no.  My family and professional life was simply too demanding and I could not imagine myself finding the time to attend classes.  Fast forward a few years and you will find me celebrating the completion of my master’s degree from Brandeis in Health and Medical Informatics.   The online-learning program at Brandeis provided me with the opportunity to expand my knowledge and understanding of health care relative to the application of technology solutions and opened new doors for me. I was able connect with and learn from experienced leaders in the industry in the industry as well as with other students from a wide variety of professional backgrounds and from all over the world. While a student at Brandeis, I discovered new opportunities and pathways for professional growth that I never realized existed.

My professional work continues to evolve and I have become involved in promoting technology solutions as an informatics analyst  aMedizint Massachusetts General Hospital. My mission is to simplify health care for both providers and patients.  Because of my educational experience and the knowledge gained, I believe I will be able to make a direct contribution to improving patient care outcomes and the delivery of health care.

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Creating the Total Package

Below is a post written by M.S. in Information Security graduate, Megan Olvera. She is an EMC employee who is continuing her quest for life-long learning. Below are her thoughts on her experience with Brandeis GPS.

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“I am admittedly a lifelong learner. I have always loved school, and although I had just wrapped up my first Master’s Degree in 2010, by 2011, I was already missing the classroom. Unfortunately, I couldn’t justify the time and expense required to earn another degree “just because.”  What to do, what to do?  My career had taken a turn from a more liberal arts focus into the world of IT, and although my daily responsibilities didn’t require an IT background, having that level of knowledge certainly wouldn’t hurt.  When my employer (EMC) sent out information about their partnership with Brandeis, jumping into the Master of Science in Information Security program seemed a perfect next step.

My previous formal education was focused on the Humanities side of the house, so I worried that I’d struggle with the more technical concepts I knew would come with this program; working in IT and learning IT in theory are often two very different things.  I was happy to discover that the Brandeis instructors were not only patient in clarifying issues for me, but they seemed to appreciate the human-experience slant that my own background naturally brought to our class discussions.  More than once, professors offered feedback that they valued the perspectives I added to the conversations.

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The online learning format of Brandeis GPS was ideal for me, as I lead a busy life between family, work, and all-consuming hobbies.  If I had a vacation planned or needed to travel for work, there were no worries about missing class, as class came with me!  I’d be sure to message my professors of any planned time away, just in case I ran into connectivity issues, and most professors were accommodating if I asked for a weekly assignment to be made available early, so that I could work ahead when needed.

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As I progressed through the curriculum at Brandeis, my new found knowledge was noticed and appreciated at work. At times, it even caused exclamations of surprise from my manager at my ability to clearly understand and troubleshoot technical issues that had stumped other members of our team.  In addition to learning technical concepts, I also learned how to efficiently communicate with management; presenting the need-to-know information in a way that enables them to quickly grasp issues and impacts and then make decisions.  In my current role, I interact with clients who expect a certain level of technical expertise combined with graceful communication skills, and now, thanks to my experience at Brandeis, I can confidently step forward and claim that competence.  If any readers are on the fence about committing to (in my case, yet another) degree program, hesitate no longer – Brandeis is the way to go!”

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7 Innovative #EdTech Practices You Can Implement at No Cost

The Americas Society and Council of the Americas invited me to discuss scalable innovative practices for education with experts and leaders dedicated to advancing and shaping the political, economic, social and cultural agendas of the Western Hemisphere. The purpose was to take what works in New York City and bring it to other education systems.

Here are some ideas I shared that global leaders can bring back to their countries.

1) Online Learning Communities for Education Resources

It is no longer okay for companies to provide teachers with just a product. Today we ask companies whose products we use, like Google, PBS, and Common Sense Media to develop online learning networks comprised of their staff and NYCDOE educators who use the product. Communities on sites like Google, Facebook, and Edmodo allow educators to connect with one another to share ideas, best practices, troubleshoot issues, and more.  A member from the NYCDOE and from the company participate in the group to provide appropriate support as needed.

Teachers love it.

Alone, exhausted, and unseen become connected, energized, and recognized.

2) Partnering with Companies to Develop Expertise within The System

Have you ever been to a classroom and seen a SMARTboard serving as a bulletin board or known that teachers were barely scratching the surface when it comes to using certain technologies? Technology without pedagogy is a waste of money.

Today companies must be held accountable to do more than just sell tools and resources to schools. They must come with an important additional component to grow capacity across the district. That component is a no-cost program that creates and connects teachers across the district who are power-users of the same resources so they can become area experts supporting others back in their school and districts.

Participants become experts and share their skills and knowledge by:

  • Supporting colleagues in their schools and districts
  • Modeling and speaking about best practices in effective technology integration
  • Providing professional learning
  • Offering feedback to companies that help to ensure resources meet student needs
  • Building the external profile of the DOE by contributing to blogs, websites, and other media
  • Developing innovative classrooms for inter-visitations
  • Presenting at conferences and workshops

Products are no longer stand alone. They come with training and support that helps ensure their successful use.  You can learn more about this program here.

3) Technology Single Point of Contacts (Tech SPOC)

Every school designates a single point of contact for technology who can participate in professional learning opportunities, receive information about technology (i.e. via a newsletter and website), and join an online community for anytime/anywhere support.

4) One Stop for Technology Professional Learning Opportunities

Sounds simple, but until recently we didn’t have a central place on our website where all learning opportunities were placed. Now there is one online place to find both internal and external opportunities such as workshops, institutes, conferences, meet ups, and webinars.

5) Incorporate Student, Educator and Parent Voice

One of the most important scalable practices that can be effectively implemented in any school system is to incorporate the voice of students, staff, and parents. Do this not only by speaking with all stakeholders, but also asking them to be a part of the rules, policies, guidelines, curriculum, and learning that takes place in your school or district. For example, our professional learning opportunities are created with and reviewed by a professional development team of educators who test the work and materials with their students then provide us with feedback.

Our Social Media Guidelines for students were created by interviewing more than one hundred students and numerous educators and parents. We then reached out to the stakeholders to help us create the guidelines in a format they choose.  In this case infographics. Once created, we go back to the stakeholders and get feedback then update. We created guides for parents and teachers and professional development. You can see them at schools.nyc.gov/socialmedia.

6) Partner with Students for Learning

While educators are expected to be experts in pedagogy, it is smart to tap into the intelligence of students when it comes to technology. Invite students to be creative with technology. Make a chart of favorite tech tools and indicate who your class experts are. If educators want to be in the know, there is a great free site from Common Sense Media called Graphite.org that rates and reviews digital resources.

7) Embrace Social Media for Students

If we want to run for office, run a business, or change how things are run where we work, live, or play we must be savvy in the use of social media. It is crucial for college, career, and life success. Stay tuned for my next post, to learn some ways to do this right.

So, what do you think? Could some of these practices be put into place where you work? Are there challenges or concerns that are in the way of you implementing these practices? What are some scalable practices that are successful where you work?

Original post available here

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What you missed at the Analytics 360 Symposium

By Ariel Garber

Brandeis Graduate Professional Studies hosted the Analytics 360 Symposium on Wednesday, April 8, 2015 at Brandeis University. The symposium took a look at using analytics to guide strategic, operational and tactical decisions specifically in the areas of education, healthcare and business.

The sessions covered a wide range perspectives within the analytics field, from The Open Data Analytics Initiative, to 10 Steps to Tracking Engagement and Influence Online, to A Holistic Approach to Being Data Science Driven.

The keynote speaker was Dr. Robert Carver, award-winning Professor of Business Administration at Stonehill College as well as Adjunct Professor at the International
Business School at Brandeis University.Dr. Rob CarverOther sessions included The Application of Analytics in the Student’s Academic Lifecycle session led by Leanne Bateman, Faculty Chair for Strategic Analytics at Brandeis University and Principal Consultant for Beacon Strategy Group, a Boston-based management firm specializing in project management services.

Screen Shot 2015-04-21 at 2.25.35 PMOther speakers, including professors, leading executives, and researchers, focused on topics such as publicity, e-learning, and big data. Alan Girelli spoke on The Open Data Analytics Initiative, with a comparative discussion of Learning Analytics (a link to his presentation is available here). Girelli is the Director of the Center for Innovation and Excellence in eLearning (CIEE) and has taught online, on-ground, and blended writing and instructional design courses at the graduate and undergraduate level for UMass Boston, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and ITT Technologies.

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We want to extend a big thank you to our panelists, Rob Carver, Leanne Bateman, David Dietrich, Shlomi Dinoor, Alan Girelli, Haijing Hao, and John McDougall. The event was sponsored by Basho, Soft10, Brandeis International Business School, EMC and E-Learning Innovation.

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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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My Student Experience

By: Ingah Davis-Crawford, Student in the M.S. in Instructional Design & Technology program

The fall semester 2014, was my first semester at Brandeis GPS.  The last time I had attended grad school was in 2009, when working on my Master’s in Distance Education from the University of Maryland University College.

Believe me when I say that I had no plans to return to school.  But, in the five intervening years I began to think that maybe I should advance my knowledge explorerof instructional design. At the same time I did very much enjoy not having to spend time studying.  I had gotten back into the swing of having a social life and just being able to watch television or read when I wanted was great and let’s not even mention sleep.  Still, every now and again I would surf the net looking for an online grad instructional design program.

That’s what I was doing when I found the Online Instructional Design and Technology program at Brandeis.  I saw it was a new program and that the first cohort would begin studies in the fall.  It was one of those “now you don’t have any excuses” moments for me. If I didn’t apply who could I blame?  My friends and family would understand.  I could dvr my favorite TV shows.  And sleep, well I have gone without it before and survived.

I enrolled in two courses, Principles of Online Instructional Design and Negotiation and Conflict Resolution. I was beginning to get the hang of things when real life intervened.  During the third and fe-Learning Concept. Computer Keyboardourth weeks of the semester , our father, who had been sick for quite some time, was taken into hospice care and began his journey home.  Needless to say that meant I had to put my classes on the back burner, Dad was the priority.  Of course, I messaged my professors to inform them of my circumstances and they were both very understanding. However professor Salerno was particularly kind and encouraging.  In the end after returning my attention to studying, I made the decision to drop Negotiation and Conflict Resolution in favor of concentrating on Principles of Online Instructional Design (ID).

I really enjoyed the ID course, and it was no walk in the park either.  The course offered an education on two levels – first, it was a thorough overview of the methodology behind instructional design.  Second, it was very enlightening to be able to observe and experience professor Salerno’s teaching method and how he structured the course, respectively.  For instance with respect to teaching method, I noticed that he would use the discussion forum topics to get us to think about or practice a specific instructional design technique prior to the assigning a task that would incorporate that technique on a broader scale.  This I found to be quite useful for my own development throughout the course and I also view it as a practical example of best practices.  The course layout within the classroom was very easy to follow.  Course materials for the weekly modules were clearly placed.  Instructions for discussion forum topics and course assignments were clear and concise.  And, professor Salerno was always available to answer questions or offer feedback on a timely basis.  So, there again he was teaching by example.

In closing, I found the course to be challenging, but I know that I learned a lot and I’m glad to have had the experience.  Overall, I’m very satisfied with the learning experience I have had so far at Brandeis GPS, and I’m looking forward to next semester.

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The Balance of Life and Learning

Tom Burt is a recent graduate of our Master of Science in Project and Program Management Program. He is currently the Administrative Contracting Officer for GSA/FAS/Supplier Management. Below is his story about his journey through e-learning at Brandeis Graduate Professional Studies.

“I always knew I would have to go back to school.  My father presource-schedulingresented a perfect example of that—nearing the end of his career, he had been unable to advance any further in his field because he lacked a four-year degree.  For my generation, I equate that to not
having a graduate degree.  Not wanting to be held back from a promotion, going back to school seemed a necessary evil; however, it was a terrifying thought.  Travelling to classes, giving up nights and weekends, simply finding the time to work on assignments—there was no way I would be able to do all that.  Then a co-worker told me about Brandeis GPS, and all my fears went away.

Online Learning made it all possible for me.  I bought my first home about the same time I started my Program and Project Management degree; due to the nature of the program, I was able to balance the challenges of purchasing a home while keeping up with studies.  Also thanks to online learning, I was able to take vacations during semesters!  On ski trips Slimmedto the western US with friends each year, I started every day with a couple hours of school work (and gallons of coffee) before hitting the slopes.  I also remember a trip to Italy for a family wedding that coincided with Professional Communication.  Had I been enrolled in a traditional classroom-based program, I may not have been able to make the trip; instead, I was posting discussion responses while riding the Rome to Florence train, using the onboard wireless, all while traveling at 250 kilometers per hour!  Grazie Brandeis!  Finally, in the last couple semesters, I was able to attend classes while training for an Ironman triathlon (as much as twenty hours of training per week) while also managing to not get fired from my job!

Graduate school does not have to be a life-consuming event, nor should it be.  There is much to be enjoyeBurtofficeslimmedd in life, such as home-ownership, vacations, and the pursuit of personal goals.  These opportunities absolutely can occur, even while maintaining a career and a family.  Not having to sacrifice other opportunities meant everything to me (and also meant the courses flew by in no time!).  Brandeis GPS was and is the key to this ever-important balance of life and learning.  Having achieved this milestone, I can now start
looking forward in my career, confident that I have the educational qualifications to support my endeavors. ”

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My Student Experience

Danita Sutton is a recent graduate of Brandeis GPS’ Master of Science in Information Technology Management  Program. She is also a Senior Business Operations Analyst at EMC. Below is her account of her educational journey at Brandeis GPS.

IMG_1293“I was very nervous taking an online course let alone pursuing my Master degree in a 100% virtual environment. The first day I opened Latte I was full of anxiety and overwhelmed because this was so new to me.  This feeling of anxiety was quickly removed as I read through the professors instructions and read the responses from my fellow classmates, I was not in this alone and I had a community of people who were willing to help me out.  This community of fellow classmates set the tone for the amazing experience I would have as I moved through the GPS program.

The strength in this program is the experience of the Professors, I was impressed with their knowledge in the course they were teaching and they were willing to share that knowledge with us to help us improve and build on the course material and apply it to our personal and professional life experiences.

The material was relevant and dealt with current issues we face with virtual teams, how to communicate and negotiate with them, how to manage projects and the software that we are using now, and organizational and operational strategies. program-hero-itm1

Finally, I don’t know what I would have done without my student advisor, Janice Steinberg, who kept in touch with me, answered me promptly every time I had a question (and I had a lot of questions), and was a great support system.  The Brandeis GPS program has forever changed my life and I am very grateful that I was able to be a part of such an incredible and wonderful program and community of people.”

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