The Brandeis GPS blog

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

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The importance of customer analytics in marketing

Consumers today have so many options regardless of what product or service they’re looking for, and for marketers, it’s really important to use available data to better understand how to meet consumer needs and influence behavior. By understanding what consumers are really looking for, and how they behave when searching out products or services, marketers can work on targeting the right audiences in the ways that will really appeal to them. By tracking behavior and predicting how consumers conduct their searches, marketing firms are able to narrow down exactly how to target the right customer, so that the supplier benefits in finding a customer, and the customer benefits as they are able to find exactly what they are looking for. In analyzing data and identifying consumer trends, marketers are able to build models that will help launch marketing plans that reflect changes and consistencies in consumer behavior, to help plan for future marketing initiatives.

For those interested in this fast-paced industry, Brandeis GPS is offering a course for the spring 2017 term in Marketing and Customer Analytics. The course will provide an introduction to advanced analytics and measurement in the areas of social networking and media, web and marketing analytics. The topics covered include the history, tracking, performance, optimization, metrics, analysis, visualization, decision making, reporting and best practices in each of those three areas. E-commerce will also be covered as it relates to web and marketing.

Those interested in the course who do not yet wish to pursue a full master’s degree can still participate. At Brandeis GPS, you can take up to two online courses without officially enrolling in a program. This is a great opportunity to get to know our programs and approach to online learning. View our full course catalog here, and preview our spring 2017 courses here.

Questions? Contact our enrollment team at gps@brandeis.edu or 781-736-8787.

Brandeis University’s Graduate Professional Studies division (GPS) is dedicated to developing innovative programs for working professionals. GPS offers 11 fully online, part-time master’s degrees and one online graduate certificate. With three 10-week terms each year, Brandeis GPS provides exceptional programs with a convenient and flexible online approach. Courses are small by design and led by industry experts who deliver individualized support and professional insights. For more information on our programs visit the Brandeis GPS website.

Is Healthcare the Next Frontier for Big Data?

By:– Custom Content Coordinator, BostInno

The health care industry has always been at the center of emerging technology as a leader in the research and application of advanced sciences. Now, more than ever, the industry is on the edge of an innovation boom. Health care information technology possesses vast potential for advancement, making the field fertile ground for game-changing innovation and the next great frontier for big data.

The use of electronic health records (EHR), electronic prescribing, and digital imaging by health care providers has exploded in recent years, Health Affairs reports and the global program-hero-itm1health information exchange (HIE) market is projected to grow nearly ten percent per year, reaching $878 million in 2018, according to Healthcare Informatics.

But despite massive growth, health care IT faces a number of barriers slowing advancement.

When it comes to health information technologies, demand is outpacing delivery. Users desire higher levels of performance beyond the capacity of current IT solutions.

“Providers certainly want to do things that vendor technology doesn’t allow right now,” Micky Tripathi, Ph.D., CEO of the Massachusetts eHealth Collaborative (MAeHC), said to Healthcare Informatics.

One reason technology is lagging is health care IT systems are independently developed and operated. Rather than one massive network, there are numerous “small shops developing unique products at high cost with no one achieving significant economies of scale or scope,” Health Affairs reported. As a result, innovations are isolated, progress is siloed, and technology cannot meaningfully advance.

To deliver the highest quality of care, the health care community must unite disparate systems in a centralized database. But, this is easier said than done. The industry must be sure to maintain the highest standards of security complying with Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). Medizin

As a result, the health care IT industry currently faces a crucial challenge: devise an overarching system that guarantees security, sustainability, and scale.

The key to unlocking solutions is Big Data are the informaticians who translate mountains of statistics into meaningful healthcare IT applications.

“The growing role of information technology within health-care delivery has created the need to deepen the pool of informaticians who can help organizations maximize the effectiveness of their investment in information technology—and in so doing maximize impact on safety, quality, effectiveness, and efficiency of care,” the American Medical Informatics Association noted. The future of health care hinges on the ability to connect the big data dots and apply insights to a creating and practicing a smart IT strategy.

Organizations have thrown themselves into the big data trenches to innovate solutions to the problem facing their industry. Ninety-five percent of healthcare CEOs said they were exploring better ways to harness and manage big data, a PricewaterhouseCoopers study reported. With the commitment of the health care community, plus the right talent and resources, industry-advancing innovations won’t be far behind.

Health care is indisputably the next great frontier for big data. How we seek, receive, and pay for health care is poised to fundamentally change and health care informaticians will be leading the evolution.

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

written by: Caroline Lyle, BostInno

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. edX

edX

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

2. Boundless

Boundless

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

3. LearnLaunch

LearnLaunch

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

4. Lexia Learning

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

5. Panorama Education

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

6. EverTrueEverTrue

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

7. peerTransfer

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

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

8. Flashnotes

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

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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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Helping Your Teams Grow Through Coaching

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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How Big Data Has Changed 5 Boston Industries

By: 

Emerging technologies have unlocked access to massive amounts of data, data that is mounting faster than organizations can process it. Buried under this avalanche of analytics are precious nuggets of information that organizations need to succeed. Companies can use these key insights to optimize efficiency, improve customer service, discover new revenue sources, and more. Those who can bridge the gap between data and business strategy will lead in our new economy.

Big Data’s potential impact on enterprises and industries as a whole is boundless. This potential is already being realized here in the Hub. Boston has been ahead of the curve when it comes to Big Data, thanks to our unique innovation ecosystem or our “Big Data DNA,” the Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council says. As a result, Boston is home to an especially high concentration of Big Data startups, but also powerhouse industries that have strategically leveraged analytics and transformed the space.

Check out how data and analytics has changed these five Boston industries.

1. Marketing & Advertising

Marketing & Advertising

In our age of online marketing, marketers have access to mountains of data. Pageviews, clicks, conversion, social shares…the list is endless. That doesn’t even account for the demographic data marketers collect and interpret every day.

These analytics have enabled marketers to access a more comprehensive report of campaign performances and in-depth view of buyer personas. Armed with these insights, marketers are able to refine their campaigns, improve forecasts, and advance their overall strategy.

Big Data also enables targeted marketing, a crucial component of today’s online strategy. You know those eerily accurate advertisements on your Facebook page? You can thank Big Data for that.

Analytics have unlocked enormous potential for marketers to better create, execute, and forecast campaigns. As a result, Boston has boomed with organizations entirely devoted to providing data-driven marketing solutions. HubSpot and Jumptap have emerged as leaders in this space, raising about $2.5 billion combined. Attivio, Visible Measures, DataXu are also leading marketing solutions providers.

2. Healthcare

Healthcare

It shouldn’t surprise that healthcare represents a top industry in Boston’s Big Data ecosystem. The healthcare industry collects and analyzes enormous volumes of clinical data on a daily basis. Partners Healthcare alone has some two billion data elements from over six thousand patients, according to the Massachusetts 2014 Big Data Report.

Big Data’s impact can be seen first and foremost with the electronic health record. Big Data has launched the electronic health record into the twenty-first century, revolutionizing patient care, and empowering the success of companies like athenahealth based in Watertown.

“The meaningful use of electronic health records is key to ensuring that healthcare focuses on the needs of the patient, is delivered in a coordinated manner, and yields positive health outcomes at the lowest possible cost,” the report said.

The space has expanded even more since Massachusetts passed legislation requiring all providers to adopt electronic health records and connect to the health information exchange, Mass HIway in 2012.

The Shared Health Research Informatics Network (SHRINE) is another local innovation linking five hospitals (Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Children’s Hospital Boston, Brigham and Women’s, Massachusetts General Hospital and the Dana Farber Cancer Center) in a centralized database to improve efficiency and quality of care.

After genomic data and patient data from electronic medical records, medical devices like pacemakers or a Fitbit, for example, are the fastest-growing sources of healthcare data. All of these rich sources of information can – and are – being leveraged by Boston healthcare providers to improve care and lower costs.

 

3. Government

Government

The State of Massachusetts and the City of Boston lead the nation with a sophisticated public sector approach to data and analytics. Governor Patrick made Big Data part of policy, launching Massachusetts Big Data Initiative and supporting Mass Open Cloud Initiative, a public cloud that utilizes an innovative open and customizable model.  In 2009, the Commonwealth launched the “the Open Data Initiative” inviting the public to access the government’s data library from nearly every department.

But analytics’ impact on the public sector is only beginning. Big Data can significantly improve the quality and efficiency of city services, and do so at a lower cost. But most importantly, data will unlock the future of urban living. Imagine if we knew the location of every bus, train, car, and bike in real-time? Imagine if we knew the profiles of every city building? This is the vision of Boston’s future as a “connected city” outlined in Mass Technology Leadership Council’s 2014 report Big Data & Connected Cities.

“Boston is making great strides in using technology to improve how city services are delivered but we can and will do more,” said Boston Mayor Marty Walsh about MassTLC’s report.  “We are making vast amounts of the city’s big data available online to the public to not only increase transparency but to also spur innovation.”

Walsh has shown support for a data-driven, connected city and plans to hire a City of Boston Chief Digital Officer to help make this vision a reality.

4. Energy

Energy

Big Data is a big reason Boston has evolved as a leader in the energy industry. Tapping into Big Data yields much more comprehensive, accurate reports of energy usage and also illuminates how these building can operate more efficiently. As a result, the industry has boomed with companies helping buildings go green to save green, including local leaders EnerNoc, Retroficiency, and NextStepLiving. Buildings in Boston and beyond are being constructed or retrofitted with building automation systems – cloud-based, centralized control centers – which collect massive amounts of data, report on energy consumption in real-time, and can continually adjust building performance for optimum efficiency. This “smart” living is the wave of the future and entirely driven by Big Data.

5. Financial Services

Financial Services

Financial services is the fifth largest vertical for Big Data in Massachusetts. Big Data has made it possible to analyze financial data sets that previously weren’t accessible. Financial analysts now can examine and interpret unprecedented amounts of information and do so in new and innovative ways. For example, stock traders can collect and mine mass amounts of social media information to gauge public sentiment about products or companies, Information Week said.

Top companies Fidelity Investments, Pricewaterhouse Coopers, Baystate Financial, LLC and others in Boston’s financial services sector heavily depend on big data to compile reports, forecast market future, and guide their decisions.

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Brandeis launches MS in eLearning design, technology

Repost from Brandeis NOW: http://www.brandeis.edu/now/2014/june/onlinedesignandtech.html

Brandeis University’s division of Graduate Professional Studies has established a new master’s of science degree in online instructional design and technology.

Brandeis developed the program, which will be offered online, in response to the growing need for professionals highly skilled in the development of digital learning resources to support the rapid proliferation of online education courses and e-Learning powered training programs.

FLIPPEdThe Advisory Board reports that the demand for graduates with instructional design skills has increased in recent years, with a 63 percent increase in total job postings from 2010 to 2013, and a 50 percent increase in job postings for instructional designers and technologists. They also found that employers increasingly demand instructional designers with content development and collaboration skills.

“As public and private interest and money flow into this space, the need for highly trained professionals versed in the art and science of instructional design has almost certainly never been higher,” said Jason Gorman, a member of the professional advisory board for Brandeis’ master of science in online instructional design and technology program and vice president of learning experience design services at Six Red Marbles, the largest US-based development house for learning materials.

The Brandeis program will prepare students to harness educational technologies in the development of online courseware, use iterative and formative course development processes, and apply evidence-based learning methodologies to the design of dynamic online learning courses.

The program includes courses focusing on how to effectively apply various instructional design methodologies and principles of learning science to online course development, as well as courses focusing on the creative utilization of instructional technologies such as learning management systems and rich interactive courseware authoring tools. The program is designed to help instructional designers, educational technologists, and training and development specialists to successfully manage instructional design projects, work effectively with subject matter experts, apply evidence-based course design principles, and develop dynamic learning content to support fully-online course and program design and delivery.

Six core courses and four electives are required (a total of 30 graduate credits). Students may enroll in up to two courses before officially applying for admission.

“Instructional design has become a crucial skill set for both educational institutions and training and development organizations across a variety of industries and sectors,” said Brian Salerno, who chairs the new program. “The Internet and mobile platforms have emerged as a desirable delivery medium for learning and training materials, as well as educational courses. Instructional designers help organizations not just transition their learning content online, but help them to design effective online courses that harness all the advantages that instructional technology has to offer.”

Program graduates will be able to:

  • Apply evidence-based learning science and online pedagogical principles to the design, development, facilitation, and assessment of online courses and programs.
  • Develop online instructional products and environments utilizing ADDIE and other models of instructional systems design.
  • Design dynamic, adaptive, and interactive online multimedia-based instructional content and courseware.
  • Evaluate and integrate instructional technologies, platforms, and collaborative tools for use in diverse instructional settings and applications.
  • Demonstrate creativity and innovation in the application of instructional design principles and technologies to respond to instructional challenges and emerging trends.
  • Lead and manage online instructional design and technology teams and projects, utilizing effective written and oral communication strategies.

This is the eighth part-time, online master degree program offered by Brandeis’ division of Graduate Professional Studies. The programs are geared for professionals looking to advance in their fields and keep up-to-date on the latest practices. Students are taught techniques that they can apply immediately in their places of work. The course instructors bring their applied experiences into the online classrooms, and the programs’ professional advisory boards help ensure that the courses and programs remain current and relevant.

More information about the master’s program in online instructional design and technology, as well as registration for the virtual open house on Thursday, June 26, 7 pm EDT, is available online or by calling call 781-736-8787.

Thoughts from a Recent Graduate

 A look at the Brandeis GPS student experience through the eyes of recent graduate from our Master of Software Engineering Program, Megan Tsai. 

My time with Brandeis GPS has been very helpful for my career. This is a feeling shared by all of my fellow GPS graduates. During commencement, IMG_1230the student speaker shared his experience of taking a discussion or an idea from class and applying it directly to his job. Many of the GPS graduates sitting in front of me were nodding their heads in agreement. There were several times I was able take what I had learned just the night before and take my work to the next level.

As one of the few students in an entry level position in all of my courses, my experience in the master’s degree program involved mostly sharing my perspective as an entry level worker. This allowed me to gain career advice from experienced fellow students and instructors. GPS courses are not just for established workers with years of experiences under their belt. GPS courses are for anyone who wants to advance his or her career, exchange ideas with people from different backgrounds, and catch up on the latest technologies and techniques. 

The types of cIMG_1262ourses offered allow software engineers of different capacities to learn something new. The fact that GPS courses are online helps professionals living around the world connect through an academic environment. The online courses also allow busy people find  time in their day to complete the course requirements. Ten courses may seem impossible for any one busy with work, life and other commitments. However, the flexible nature of GPS courses will help anyone achieve the dream of obtaining an advanced degree.

Student Speaker & GPS Graduate: Rob Havasy

rob_havasy casual cropped low-res

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

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

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

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

An example of Rob's photography

An example of Rob’s photography

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

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

My Student Experience

by: Daniel Mongeon

Twenty-three years.  That’s the length of time that has eclipsed since I last enrolled in a “for credit” course.  I earned my undergrad at that time and never looked back, until recently.  I had been contemplating taking a course for both professional development and as a possible gateway to applying to a Masters program, but I didn’t really want to do it.

My two sons are 5 and 3.  Seeing them when I arrive home from work is the best part of my day, but it’s still stepping from one job to another.  The second best part of my day is when they’re tucked into bed and I can indulge in some “me” time.  I guard that “me” time jealously and I didn’t want to have my vigorous schedule of TV and reading interrupted by coursework.  Thankfully, my wife and my mother, an educator, wouldn’t allow me to rest on my laurels and I enrolled in RCOM 102 Professional Communications for the Spring 2014 term.

As the opening day for GPS courses approached, my dread increased but I tamped those program-hero-itm1feelings down with hollow sounding (to me) platitudes about “stepping outside of one’s comfort zone” and prepared for the 10 weeks to follow.  After reading through my syllabus and posting my initial introduction, I mapped out a schedule that seemed doable.  Wednesday would be my day for required readings.  Thursday would be for researching and posting my response to my instructor’s discussion post.  Friday would be for working on assignments and responding to posts by my classmates.  Saturday would be a day off, a break from schoolwork.  Sunday, Monday and Tuesday would be for completion of any tasks that needed to be wrapped up by the end of the course week.

It was a good plan, but what is it they say about the best laid plans of mice and men?  Right.  Life happens.  Sometimes a buddy I hadn’t seen in a while would only have Wednesday night free to hang out.  Perhaps I had a commitment on Friday.  There was that wedding to attend in Brooklyn on the weekend of Week 8.  There were times that I just couldn’t wrap my head around getting my work done and would stare at my computer screen, trying to will an idea to pop into my head.

skills-pmpI got through it, however.  Mores to the point, I enjoyed it.  I enjoyed reading posts from other students and constructing a decent response.  Through the research I had to do for my discussion posts and assignments, I learned things that could assist me in not only my job but my day to day life.  Our instructor was excellent at keeping our discussions moving if they bogged down. I found satisfaction in logging in to the class and seeing if there were any responses to what I had posted.  Getting my grades back and reading my instructor’s feedback pushed me to shore up the areas that needed strengthening.

Mostly, I found that stepping outside of my comfort zone wasn’t just an empty platitude; it was a way of “exercising” unused mental faculties and coming out the other side having discovered that I have the capacity to fit more education into my hectic life.  I found that you can come to like something you initially dreaded.

I got an ‘A’ in the course and plan to continue my studies. Although for now, I have some Red Sox games to enjoy, an instructional baseball team to coach and waves to catch.  See you in class.

About the Author:

Daniel Mongeon is a Brandeis Graduate Professional Studies Student Advisor. He has been with GPS for over 3 years and knows all there is to know about your student experience. He is a graduate from Emerson College and loves to surf, watch the sox and spend time with his family.

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