Transforming stories and public health lessons of Ashland, MA, into a multimedia case for learning

This video was produced by Rose Goldman and The Leadership Studio at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Awardees: Rose H. Goldman (SPH), Amy Cohen (SPH), Dan Borelli (GSD), Kara Oehler (Other), Jesse Shapins (GSD)

Summary: Awardees plan to create (using Zeega software) a multimedia “case” that better integrates quantitative and qualitative information, for use in a public health course and as a model for next-generation case-based teaching.

Follow-up of the grant

Awardees created a multimedia case for use in a public health course and as a model for next-generation case-based teaching.

Rose Goldman and colleagues developed a multimedia case entitled “Public Health Lessons of Ashland.” The 40-minute interactive multimedia case, built on the Zeega platform, has now been used six times in four separate courses at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, as well three courses outside of the School. The multimedia case includes first-hand interviews, news clippings, links to scientific reports and studies and maps related to a 1998 Health Study investigating the cancer diagnoses of a group of young adults in a community that had been home to a chemical site.

The end of the case asks the students: did the case prove the patient’s question about whether or not the chemical plant caused his cancer? The class was typically split 50/50, allowing for informed and spirited debate among classmates. Goldman and her colleagues administered a survey to student participants in each of the six courses. Students were enthusiastic about the medium: “Having the actual persons affected and involved speak in the video made it more powerful than just reading about it. Having this multi-media system really improved my understanding of the situation instead of reading a very bland paper.”

The student survey feedback was also used to improve the learning experience in subsequent offerings. For example, in the first course offering (Spring 2013), EH202: Principles of Environmental Health, the students indicated that the multimedia experience could be enhanced by offering a set of materials that they could have in hand as they explored the online case. Goldman and her colleagues created a handout to help the students better grasp the timeline, and data tables, and printed versions of some of the maps.

Future plans include creating a teaching guide for the case to be published to the School website for general use. In addition, Goldman and her colleagues are planning to submit a paper for publication in the American Journal of Public Health.

One logistical glitch has actually led Goldman in a new direction in creating multimedia educational materials and cases. Zeega, a third party vendor that hosted the original case, decided to revise their platform in a manner which no longer supported the Ashland case. They agreed to continue hosting the case for Goldman and her team, but the case can no longer be edited nor can similar projects be created on the new platform.

Since the conclusion of the HILT grant, Goldman has been adapting Prezi as an alternative platform for developing new multimedia case content, and said that the lessons she learned about multimedia in developing the Ashland case has enabled her to create more efficient experimentation. “What could you do if you don’t have millions, but you have a smartphone in your pocket?” The phone camera and various apps enable easy capture of multimedia content that can be easily imported into Prezi. Prezi also allows zooming in and out of the media content which invites some interesting innovations. Goldman has been collaborating with others on utilizing Prezi for the creation of educational multi-media materials.

Although the Zeega platform changed and no longer supported the case, the case was still able to be used since there was a video capture of the entire case.  In addition, interactive maps were created using power point, and a written companion to the video was also created, which included time stamps for the video (to easily navigate to other parts), time line, and data tables.  As a result, the case has continued to be used in three different courses per year at Harvard’s TH Chan School of Public Health.

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