The Brandeis GPS blog

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

Tag: user centered design (page 1 of 3)

Brandeis GPS Student Spotlight

Amalia Cesare ‘21

User Experience Writer at The Vanguard Group in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania

Program: MS in User-Centered Design 

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

Get to know Amalia Cesare! 

Why did you choose Brandeis GPS?

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

What inspired you to choose your field of study?

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

How have you enjoyed your experience at Brandeis thus far? 

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

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

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

What are your plans for after graduation?

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

What advice would you give to incoming students?

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

What has been your favorite class to-date? 

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

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

Brandeis GPS Student Spotlight

Lauren Haynes ‘23

Digital Marketing Specialist at PGIM Investments in New Jersey

Program: MS in User-Centered Design

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

Get to know Lauren Haynes! 

Why did you choose Brandeis GPS?

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

What inspired you to choose your field of study?

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

How have you enjoyed your experience at Brandeis thus far? 

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

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

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

What are your plans for after graduation?

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

What advice would you give to incoming students?

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

What has been your favorite class to-date? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Power of Learning Experience Design

By Carol Damm

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

GPS at UXPA Boston 2019

The Boston Chapter of the User Experience Professionals Association will be holding their 18th Annual User Experience Conference on Friday, May 10, at the Sheraton Boston Hotel.

Eva Kaniasty, chair of the User-Centered Design program at Graduate Professional Studies, will participate in the Innovation Fishbowl (9:15 a.m.), a debate-style panel session that will cover several controversial topics around UX and innovation:

  • What’s the state of UX design for emerging technologies (voice, IoT, etc)?
  • Are we inventing new processes and methodologies, or just re-branding the old?
  • When we creatively adapt a method or process to fit project realities, are we losing its core benefits/value?
  • Are standards and design systems good for UX, or are they forcing us to design to the least common denominator?
  • Can design collaboration and reliance on user feedback devolve into groupthink and rejection of new ideas?
  • Does UX foster or kill innovation?
  • Have we finally found a way to make Agile and UX play well together?

The Fishbowl format is designed to facilitate discussion in large groups, making it ideal for an advanced conference session. First the panelists will discuss a topic while the audience listens. Next, the audience is invited to join the discussion with questions and comments. The fishbowl round continues for 10-15 minutes, at which point a new topic is introduced and the process repeats.

Eva will also be facilitating a lunchtime discussion at the conference. If you’d like to learn more about the event and programs offered, check out the website and follow along with the hashtag: #UXPABOS19.

Meet our newest GPS faculty members

The first week of the October session is here and we are excited to introduce the newest Brandeis GPS faculty members. These industry leaders come to Brandeis GPS with expertise and established networks within their fields. We have no doubt that the knowledge and experience they bring will provide for meaningful learning opportunities in the online classroom.

Garrett Gillin – RDMD 110: Principals of Search Engine Marketing

Garret Gillin Headshot

Garrett Gillin, MBA, is a co-founder and Principal at 215 Marketing, a Google Premier Partner agency located in Philadelphia, PA, where he oversees the development and execution of integrated digital marketing initiatives with a concentration on programmatic advertising, marketing automation, and advanced analytics.

Todd Chapin – RUCD 185: Design for Non-screen User Experiences

Todd Chapin HeadshotTodd Chapin is a co-founder and Chief Product Officer at ShopClerk.ai. He has experience in product management and UX, as well as expertise in personal mobility, speech recognition, and e-commerce. He has worked at Zipcar, Audible, and Nuance Communications. He has graduate and undergraduate degrees in Human Factors Engineering from Tufts University.

Ernest Green – RSAN 160: Predictive Analytics

Ernest Green Headshot

Ernest Green MS, MBA, PMP, is Vice President of Data Mining at a large financial institution in Dallas, TX. Prior to this role, he worked as a Data Scientist with General Motors and has 10+ years of diverse analytics experience. He holds multiple college degrees and most recently completed a Master’s in Predictive Analytics from Northwestern University. His research and expertise are in analytics, machine learning, natural language processing and artificial intelligence.

We are so pleased to welcome these new faculty members to Brandeis GPS and look forward to seeing how they bring their expertise to their online classrooms.

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

Cognitive and Social Psychology of User-Centered Design

For those who build things designed for human use, the understanding of human behavior is critical, and the design and development of digital properties is no exception. More and more designers are working to produce technologies that adapt to the user rather than attempt to force behavioral change. It is important for these designers to apply social and psychological principles to predict user responses.

Brandeis GPS will be offering Cognitive and Social Psychology of User-Centered Design as a part-time, full online course this October. The 10-week course will  explore the behavioral, cognitive and social aspects of human activity. Throughout the course, students will examine the psychological and social aspects that impact human interface interaction in both physical and virtual environments. Topics will include Signal Detection Theory, Gestalt Theory, Cognitive Load Theory, and various motivational theories as well as the cultural and social implications of design.

By the end of the course, students will be able to:

  • Identify the cognitive and social psychology principles that impact the use of a particular design, and offer design solutions that will ensure effective user experience
  • Explain Cognitive Load Theory, apply the theory to designs, and explain the whys and hows of reaching optimal cognitive load
  • Explain Signal Detection Theory and apply the theory effectively to designs
  • Make reasonable predictions of human behavior with regards to a user interface and/or design by applying their knowledge of perception, attention, and cognition
  • Apply knowledge of emotion and motivation theories to designs in order to make them more effective, and explain the choices and applications
  • Identify where a particular design may create a cognitive error, or why a particular design may have caused a cognitive error, and offer solutions to reduce error
  • Effectively communicate design solutions to stakeholders

At Brandeis GPS, you can take up to two courses before enrolling in one of our 12 online master’s degrees. If you’re interested in exploring the MS in User-Centered Design, or would like to learn more about cognitive and social psychology as part of your own professional development, contact the  GPS office for more information or to request a syllabus: 781-736-8787, gps@brandeis.edu, or submit your information.

UXPA Boston Student Recap | Part 2

Brandeis GPS was a proud sponsor of the 2018 UXPA Boston annual conference. This week, we’re featuring a two-part series on how the conference was experienced through the eyes of two students in the MS in User-Centered Design. Read Part 1 here.

By Craig Cailler, as told in his own words:

The Boston Chapter of the User Experience Professionals’ Association held their annual conference at the Sheraton Boston Hotel on Thursday, May 10, 2018. I have attended this event for many years and watched it grow from a few hundred people hosted at local university, to over one thousand people attending sessions occupying multiple ball rooms in a large hotel in downtown Boston. This year was something special as the team at UXPA Boston was able to promote an appearance by industry veteran, Rolf Molich, from DialogDesign in Denmark in Europe. President of UXPA Boston, Dan Berlin, posted this to his Twitter account about the occasion, “Rolf Molich presenting CUE-10 results at #UXPABOS18 makes me feel like we’ve finally hit the big time.” It was truly a special moment for the team, and the conference, as they prove again that this has become one of the premier annual events with the industry.

This first session I attended this year was, “CPUX – A Serious (and Usable?) European Attempt at Certifying UX Professionals” presented by Rolf Molich. The International Usability and UX Qualification Board is composed of UX professionals from across Europe that develop and maintain the curricula for the purpose of introducing usability to new practitioners, keeping active practitioners current and establishing common terminology and technologies across the industry. The CPUX offers several levels of certification, covering topics such as Human-centered design process, Definitions, Understanding of context of use, User requirements, Design solutions, Usability tests and Inspections and user surveys. During the session, Rolf “quizzed” the audience with sample questions used in the certification process using an online live polling software. Rolf closed out the session by telling the audience that the team at UXQB were looking for sponsors here in the United States to begin providing this training, so keep your eyes out for future CPUX classes in our area.

I was also introduced to several new tools as part of other presentations. In the session entitled, “Through Their Eyes: Using VR to Simulate Retinal Diseases”, Jessica Holt-Carr and Weiwei Huang walked the audience through the process they used to build empathy for disabled users who suffer with visual impairments by using low vision simulation kits. Jessica and Weiwei explained how they used an Android application called SimViz (In My Eyes – iOS alternative) in conjunction with a hand-made cardboard device that held the mobile device comfortable on participants while blocking out all light sources. Jessica summarized the benefits of this approach as:

  • Identifies accessibility barriers
  • Seeing the world from their view
  • Raises awareness to the issue

In another session entitled, “Digital whiteboarding and other techniques for remote collaboration and ideation”, the team of Kristina Beckley and Ethan Perry from IBM spoke to the audience about a digital whiteboarding tool called “Mural” as part of the presentation. They discussed how they used the tool to collect input from global team members as part of their global design process that includes “Hills, Playbacks and Sponsor Users”. They provided the audience with some best practices based on their use of the tool including…

  • Timebox the process
  • Make sure people are contributing
  • Setup separate rooms, 8-12 people each

UXPA Boston Student Recap | Part 1

Brandeis GPS was a proud sponsor of the 2018 UXPA Boston annual conference. This week, we’re featuring a two-part series on how the conference was experienced through the eyes of two students in the MS in User-Centered Design. Read Part 2 here.

By Roslyn Jones, as told in her own words:

I had a great experience at the UXPA Boston conference. There were so many great professionals and organizations to network with. My most important takeaways derived from the organization networking space, Making Websites Readable discussion and the Mentoring forum.

Within the organization networking space, I was able to connect with multiple companies that were either offering User Experience (UX) job positions or showcasing tools valuable to the UX industry. The pictured MPACT game-like persona builder, which is picture below, is a creatively innovative tool that aids teams in creating persona profiles. The representatives at each table were so pleasant and were eager to speak to each attendee about the services that their businesses provide. Also, it was a pleasure meeting student advisor Daniel Mongeon at the Brandeis GPS table. As I continued to explore the different tables, I stumbled upon the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), an academic, professional, service based engineering organization. It was great connecting with them and speaking with other conference attendees about its purpose.

The Making Websites Readable session provided methods to enhance the readability of a website in a fun and engaging way. They incorporated storytelling, comic strips, and a web-redesign exercise to deliver their 7 Tips for Web Style. The session started off with an animated reading of a Pearls Before Swine comic strip, which was nothing short of entertaining. This led us into analyzing a poorly designed website created specifically for this demonstration. I like how Jen Kramer and Martha Nichols continuously engaged the audience, maintained high energy throughout the presentation and presented takeaways that were short, simple, and useful. Their 7 Tips for Web Style are:

  1. Keep it short
  2. Add snappy headings
  3. Find your focus
  4. Make a list
  5. Get specific
  6. Adjust visuals
  7. Use your words wisely

During the Mentoring Session, I obtained perspectives from two professionals who have years of UX experience. Our mentee group consisted of seven individuals who are new to UX.  Throughout this session we received great tips on how to position ourselves to impress a manager or other UX hiring executive. My key takeaways from this session involved tips for figuring out how to make yourself more marketable in the field. This includes, being able to communicate with industry professionals, understanding and portraying knowledge of the process, showcasing your relative skills, and participating in events that strengthen and highlight these relative skills.

Countdown to Commencement 2018

It’s that time of year again! A new set of students from Brandeis University’s division of Graduate Professional Studies (GPS) are preparing to walk across the stage in front of 275 friends and family members and receive the master’s degrees they so diligently worked toward.

GPS is thrilled to see our soon-to-be alums progress to the next phase of their professional development and career advancement. We extend an additional congratulations to the inaugural class of graduates from the Digital Marketing and Design and User-Centered Design programs, both of which launched in 2015.

This year’s commencement ceremony will take place on the Brandeis University campus on May 13, 2018, and will feature the following speakers/honors:

  • Tom Gerace, commencement speaker. Tom is the founder and CEO of Skyword, a Boston-based content marketing firm. An expert in strategic storytelling, Tom recently co-authored the best-selling book Storynomics and leads Storynomics Seminars in cities throughout the world. Early in his career, Tom served as a senior business analyst at the Harvard Business School, where he wrote the first case studies on the emergence of the internet in 1995.
  • Steve Boardman, student speaker. Strategic Analytics graduate Steve Boardman is a senior technology consultant for iDoxSolutions, Inc. Based in Charleston, South Carolina, Steve has more than 25 years of experience implementing, delivering and supporting enterprise IT solutions for a wide variety of industries. He currently focuses on cloud-based application architectures and business intelligence and analytics solutions.
  • Meredith Bazzell, Rabb School Outstanding Teacher Award recipient. An instructor in the Digital Marketing and Design program, Meredith has more than 13 years of marketing experience in healthcare, construction, higher education, retail, manufacturing, and technology. Meredith currently serves as the manager of customer experience for global communications at Asurion in Nashville, Tennessee.

We look forward to sharing more commencement-related updates as the day gets closer. Follow along with us here on the blog and at #GPSclassof2018.

 

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