The School of Public Health has now made it more convenient for Master of Public Health students to complete the four required courses in the program’s integrated core curriculum: As of fall 2019, students have the option to complete all four courses online.
The online classes—Quantitative Methods for Public Health; Leadership and Management for Public Health; Health Systems, Law, and Policy; and Individual, Community, and Population Health (ICPH)—provide students with the same foundational public health knowledge and skills that they would receive in person. The courses are also taught by the same experienced SPH faculty members who teach the courses on campus. The Quantitative Methods and ICPH courses have been offered online since fall 2018.
Available to both full-time and part-time students, the online curriculum enables students to study the material at their own pace and then log on through the web conferencing tool Zoom for weekly live classes, where they can see and interact with the professor and other students in the class.
“We are so pleased to add this flexibility for our students,” says Lisa Sullivan, associate dean for education and professor of biostatistics, who teaches the Quantitative Methods course. “By offering these core courses online, our students can make progress in their programs from anywhere at any time.”
For students or working professionals who would like to gain fundamental public health knowledge without enrolling in a full MPH degree program, the four online courses also satisfy the Graduate Certificate in Public Health.
“When online courses were first introduced years ago, most were asynchronous and just consisted of putting a lot text on web pages without much in the way of feedback or interaction,” says Wayne LaMorte, professor of epidemiology, who has taught the online Quantitative Methods course. “Online learning modules can now provide a lively orchestration of text, images, audio and video, and interactive activities that enable students to test their understanding and receive immediate feedback.” He says Zoom even allows the instructor to divide an online class into breakout rooms so that students can meet in small groups.
Carol Dolan, professor of community health sciences, taught the online ICPH course last year, and agrees that the interactive components of the modules enhance students’ experience and prepare them for the discussion-oriented class.
“Students were able to explain their approach to actual public health issues, from analysis to action,” Dolan says.
MPH student Olivia King, who is enrolled in the JD/MPH dual-degree program and is studying health law and policy at SPH, completed the Quantitative Methods course with LaMorte last fall. She says that class schedules and travel time between the Charles River Campus, where the School of Law is located, and the Medical Campus, were the main factors in her decision to take the course remotely.
“It was a great decision to take Quantitative Methods online,” says King, adding that the module-based course allowed her to work at her own pace and still enjoy the experience of live classes two evenings each week. “The format was easy for me, and Professor LaMorte was really accessible by Zoom and email throughout the course.”
Joshua Smith-Sreen, a student in the BA/MPH program, also appreciated the convenience of reduced travel time between the two campuses. He enrolled in the ICPH course while still an undergraduate last year, and is now completing certificates at SPH in epidemiology and biostatistics, as well as global health program design.
“The seminar-style format worked really well, and I got to know everyone in the class,” says Smith-Sreen. “During the week, we peer-reviewed each other’s responses to reading assignments, and then discussed all of the important concepts together during the virtual in-class sessions.”
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