Transforming team-learning teaching cases in public health for online platforms: an e-learning module development project

Awardees: S. Bryn Austin (HMS-CH), Chris Dede (HGSE), Holly Gooding (HMS-CH)

Summary: Awardees transformed STRIPED teaching cases for online delivery, consistent with digital learning research and toward expanded outreach to working professionals.

S. Bryn Austin and Holly Gooding (HMS) collaborated with Professor Chris Dede (HGSE) to identify effective ways of transferring active learning and team-based activities into online learning communities. Their prototype allows for synchronous online learning and incorporates social media tools to allow for seamless communication and collaboration within the online community.

The team brought in learners from different geographic locations to ensure the learning was truly on-line.  Working with the staff from the Harvard University Division of Continuing Education (see Spring 2016 Spark Grant Extending classroom activities to online students), Austin, Gooding and Dede came up with solutions to increase meaningful and productive engagement in the modules. Through adapting key elements of active classroom learning techniques and using video, social media, and the learning theory of guided social constructionism, students were able to test new material against their own prior experiences and belief systems.

Challenges came in the form of recruiting and retention of participants, which highlighted the importance of establishing relationships to strengthen cross-institutional collaborations, and of deepening cohesion and commitment among e-learners.

Findings from this e-module development project will help educators create similar projects across educational settings within the University. The team has been awarded an Advance Grant to scale up their work by transforming all STRIPED teaching cases for online delivery for the benefit of the Harvard T.H. Chan School, the larger Harvard University community, and beyond.