209064 Developing an effective MPH health education distance learning program: Bumps, bruises, and lessons learned from two MPH distance cohorts

Monday, November 9, 2009: 3:30 PM

Daniel P. Perales, DrPh MPH , Department of Health Science, San Jose State University, San Jose, CA
Frank Strona, MPH , Department of Health Sciences, San Jose State University, San Francisco, CA
Kathleen M. Roe, DrPH, MPH , Health Science Department, San Jose State University, San Jose, CA
Edward Mamary, DrPH, MS , Health Science Department, San Jose State University, San Jose, CA
Anne Demers, EdD, MPH , Department of Health Science, San Jose State University, San Jose, CA
The San Jose State University MPH program consists of two modes of instruction: a campus mode (CEPH accredited for 35 years), in which students two to seven years to complete their MPH degree, and a lockstep 24 month cohort distance learning mode. The first two distance cohorts of 25 and 27 students were admitted in fall 2007 and 2008, respectively. A strength of this mode is its use of distance learning technology, such as the asynchronous Blackboard web-based platform for posting assignments and the Elluminate platform for weekly live class sessions, which are complemented by a professional and accomplished health education faculty. Over the last five years, the MPH faculty has encountered challenges in transitioning a campus-based health education program into a distance learning mode. Some of the lessons learned that will be described in this presentation include, 1) maintaining consistent quality of online instruction by investing in extensive faculty training in both the Elluminate and blackboard learning platforms and providing readily available technical assistance to both students and faculty, 2) addressing student needs and concerns by setting Sunday at midnight as the due date for assignments and holding monthly meetings with cohort elected student leaders, 3) establishment of instructional policies that enhance learning, such as requiring that all courses contain a uniform Blackboard look and feel, 4) promoting live online student interaction by creatively utilizing technology such as Elluminate's virtual breakout rooms, and 5) efficiently marketing the distance program through live online weekend information meetings for potential applicants.

Learning Objectives:
1. List three key challenges encountered in distance learning instruction. 2. Describe at least five lessons learned from the challenges often encountered in distance learning. 3. List at least three strategies for addressing the distance learning instruction challenges.

Keywords: Distance Education Development, Distance Learning

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: Distance program director
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.