St. George’s University Hosts Highly Successful Public Health For-Credit MOOC

By Brett Mauser
December 30, 2014

Dr. Satesh Bidaisee, Department of Public Health and Preventative Medicine.This fall, SGU’s groundbreaking One Health One Medicine massive open online course (MOOC) introduced the concept to more than 600 students from around the world. In addition to boasting a high retention rate for MOOCs—more than half of enrollees participated in the discussion forum—students were eligible to take a final exam to earn academic credit for the first time.

The eight-week course highlighted One Health One Medicine in a variety of topics, including emerging infectious diseases, zoonotic diseases, food safety, environmental health, and international health. Among those attending were such high-ranking health officials from around the world, several doctors, professors, and assistant professors, as well as SGU students and community members.

“A MOOC by nature is designed to make available educational opportunities to the large number of students – and with the large number of people in the world interested in the synergies between medicine, veterinary medicine, and public health, this MOOC addresses a direct need,” said course leader Satesh Bidaisee, Associate Professor and Deputy Chair of SGU’s Department of Public Health and Preventive Medicine. “SGU’s One Health One Medicine course integrates medicine, veterinary medicine, and public health for students from around the world to identify and apply its concepts.”

SGU added a new dimension to this fall’s course—students’ ability to earn academic credit. Twenty-nine students took a final exam. Those who successfully passed the exam earned a certificate of recognition and can petition to receive credit.

Jonathan Modica of Nutmeg Education, and John Swope of, which SGU partnered with to help develop the course, were extremely pleased with the course’s retention rate, a figure that Mr. Swope indicated is five times higher than the average MOOC. In addition to employing several novel techniques that are fundamental to, Mr. Modica felt that consistent feedback to the students and ample virtual office hours, an improvement on the design of most online courses, was key to SGU’s success.

The course’s seven sections,included case studies, discussion topics, and assignments. The online SGUx platform was successfully built to deliver the course to an international community.

“The online platform was user-friendly for both the faculty and students, and a diverse educational experience was had by all that participated,” Dr. Bidaisee said. “As a faculty member, I was able apply a variety of educational tools to share content in an online setting. The use of recorded lectures, virtual live online sessions, discussion blogs, case studies, student seminar presentations, as well as quantitative and qualitative assessment strategies provided a full spectrum of learning and evaluation opportunities.”

The MOOC is one step in SGU’s creation and launch of an online Master of Public Health in Global Health; the initial registration rate and extremely high retention rate is a strong indicator of the demand for such an online program.

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