University of South Florida, College of Public Health (UNITED STATES)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2011 Proceedings
Publication year: 2011
Pages: 6317-6319
ISBN: 978-84-614-7423-3
ISSN: 2340-1079
Conference name: 5th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 7-9 March, 2011
Location: Valencia, Spain
The University of South Florida College of Public Health (COPH) has been a leader in online education in public health. The distance education program began in the early 90s to provide workforce development to the state’s public health workforce. Initially courses were mainly transmitted via satellite technology. With the advance of internet, that technology was fast replaced with online learning. The reach of this format was far wide, capturing audiences across state and country borders. In 2000, COPH became the first in the country to offer an entirely distance-based Master of Public Health.
Since 1998, the Epidemiology curriculum has used online technology to transform several courses. Epidemiology is a core discipline in public health that creates the foundation of the field for the student. However, its concepts are complex and it can be challenging to transfer from the classroom to online education. Therefore, faculty work closely with the Office of Educational Technology and Assessment (ETA) in conjunction with instructional designers, who support the development efforts in the transition of traditional to online courses.
This session will provide an overview of three of the fundamental epidemiology courses, both basic and advanced, that are now offered via online learning. It will focus on the instructional methodologies, assessment techniques and interactive components. The three courses share similar characteristics of the instructional, peer and technical support although each one has its own unique course structure as a result of the level of specialization required.
During the challenging transition ETA and faculty worked together in the redesign and redevelopment of the courses. One of the emphasis was on aligning learning objectives to content and then most importantly to assessment.
All courses have asynchronous online sections that may stretch over the length of the whole semester, allowing the student to make progress at their own pace. Students work in several assignments/projects in an individual/ group capability. They use Blackboard as the course management platform. But this asynchronous format does not serve the purpose of more advance courses so Elluminate live has been adopted as the synchronous platform for live interaction.
Safe Assignment is another tool used where students submit their written documents to be assessed for plagiarism prevention. The possibility of cheating during exams has been addressed by the use of the lockdown browser, supported by the ETA team during test times.
For the two advanced courses where an important emphasis is for students to develop more practical skills, the synchronous portion is critical. The dynamic virtual environment allows students to interact with instructors and peers in real time. It also gives them the opportunity to actively present investigations’ results, critical analysis of the literature and to engage in scholarly discussions that enhance their comprehension of epidemiologic concepts. All these are opportunities that guarantee student success.
The basic course in Epidemiology has up to 250 students per semester. The advanced courses, offered annually to students specializing in Epidemiology, have an enrollment of 30 students. The courses are permanently supported by the ETA and regularly updated in collaboration with faculty.
Public Health, Epidemiology, transition classroom to online.