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The Innovator
Exploring Educational Technologies at Mizzou

 

Fall 2016. Volume 14, Issue 1

Online Master of Public Health Degree Receives Innovative Program Award

Faculty Focus: Jenna Wintemberg, Master of Public Health

Jenna Wintemberg

Jenna Wintemberg is the distance education coordinator for the Master of Public Health program.

The online Master of Public Health (MPH) program with an emphasis in health promotion and policy received the Innovative Program award at the University Professional and Continuing Education Association (UPCEA) Central Region Conference on October 18, 2016.

UPCEA is one of the leading associations for professional, continuing, and online education. UPCEA advances leadership in online education through innovative conferences and seminars, research and benchmarking information, professional networking, and timely publications.

The MPH program at the University of Missouri is preparing the next generation of leaders in one of the most needed and growing fields in the United States and around the world. Students learn the skillsets needed to make a lasting impact in a number of areas, such as infant health and safety, the aging population, international travel and commerce, antibiotic resistance, and geopolitical threats. Students gain valuable and real-world knowledge from study abroad sessions, Career Week panels from experts in the field, and guest speakers from around the world. Moreover, distance and campus students are able to collaborate and exchange ideas through innovative and technology-rich classrooms. These experiences, in addition to the instruction from experienced faculty, prepare graduates from the MPH program at MU to lead and serve in the public health sector in the U.S. and abroad.

Since the development of the online MPH degree, innovative equipment offers an online curriculum that incorporates the best practices of distance learning. The learning modalities include a combination of self-paced asynchronous courses as well as live-time recorded small group presentations and guest lecturers. A classroom and a meeting room were equipped with the necessary hardware and software to link faculty and academic advisers with distance students (both individually and in groups), and enable recorded lectures and guest lecturers. VoiceThread is utilized to make collaboration in PowerPoint presentations more effective. These technology rooms also allow faculty to bring in alumni that live abroad so that current students are able to interact with them and learn from their knowledge and experiences. For example, two alumni of the MPH program (who live Bangladesh and in the country of Georgia) were able to present live guest lectures to both the online and campus students via Collaborate Ultra.

The online MPH degree provides location and day-to-day flexibility in scheduling for students who have work, family, or other responsibilities. The development, implementation, and evaluation of online courses are being tailored to the unique characteristics and needs of adult online learners. The online MPH program prides itself in the diverse population of students that it serves. The program focuses on working professionals wanting to further their education while maintaining full-time employment; therefore, students range from 21 – 60 years of age. The online program has a total of 115 students, with seven of those being international and 27 from an underrepresented minority group.

The online MPH program offers students the opportunity to work long distance with no face-to-face on campus requirements to earn their MPH degree (including the required internship experience).

One of the hallmarks of the online MPH degree is the program’s commitment to curating resources for campus and distance students into easy-to-find and easy-to-use platforms. The program accomplishes this goal through a variety of means:

  • A distance education coordinator who serves as a just-in-time resource for both online students and faculty.
  • A dedicated website that includes online student resources, a video overview of online learning with the MU MPH program, a list of software and equipment requirements for online students, the student handbook, and many other resources for current and prospective students.
  • An online orientation that includes: videos from the program director, academic adviser, internship coordinator, faculty, and current students; a demo course review to prepare students to take an online class; a list of student resources; opportunities to meet fellow students asynchronously via discussion boards; and opportunities to meet and interact with their academic adviser, the distance education coordinator, and fellow students synchronously using Collaborate Ultra.

The evaluation of the academic effectiveness of the online MPH degree is guided by the Distance Education Evaluation Plan, which was developed for the purpose of rigorously evaluating learning outcomes for online students. The evaluation plan is implemented and overseen by the distance education coordinator and the program administrative team. The evaluation plan includes specific target and outcome measures in the areas of student recruitment, student performance and success, student satisfaction, and faculty support provided by the program. These measures are directly related to the overall program goals for instruction, research, service, and collaboration. In addition, the online degree program is subjected to the same quality control processes as the traditional program, including end-of-semester course evaluations, annual student surveys, annual student competency surveys, field placement evaluations, and graduation rates. The results of these evaluative sources are used to inform and stimulate program improvements.

The online Master of Public Health with an emphasis in health promotion and policy at MU was selected as the 2016 UPCEA Central Region Innovative Program award recipient for these reasons. The MPH Program continuously strives to innovate and to be a leader in providing high-quality online degree programs. For more information about the MPH program visit http://publichealth.missouri.edu/index.php.

MU's online MPH program received the 2016 UPCEA Central Region Innovative Program award.

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