Emory Report

April 13, 1998

 Volume 50, No. 28

Cyber-classes help professionals pursue long-distance MPH

Educational and computer systems experts at the School of Public Health have collaborated with their colleagues in the Department of Health Education to take online distance learning to a new level.

Through the group's Graduate Certificate Program at Emory (GCPE), students may earn-via Internet-based courses-up to one half the credit hours required for a master's of public health (MPH) from Emory.

During a typical course, students may ask questions of professors or work with student colleagues on group projects in real-time "chat rooms," listen to parts of professors' lectures in RealAudio, turn in and receive graded homework via e-mail, click onto "The Student Lounge" and "Student Kiosk" for updates on programwide news and take "timed tests"-all from the comfort of home.

"The GCPE was designed to be a vehicle to provide public health professionals at the federal, state and local levels graduate training in public health without interrupting their employment," said Tina-Lynn Paul, coordinator of Alternative Education Programs for the Rollins School. "This program presents the same content and level of thoroughness as conventional MPH courses."

GCPE came in response to a federal grant charging four schools with designing web-based MPH courses for public health advisors employed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The graduate certificate fulfills 21 of the 42 the credit hours required for a MPH from Emory. Although originally designed for CDC staff, the program is open to all interested public health professionals. And while students are encouraged to complete the program in their cohort, course-by-course offerings also are available.

The first GCPE class began in July 1997. During the program students attend a one-week orientation and instructional session on campus and must visit for five additional one-week sessions during the 16-month program year. Otherwise, all class syllabi, assignments, lectures and tests are available online.

In the on-campus sessions students get acquainted with professors and fellow students. They take computer workshops specially designed for them to gain skills in statistical, epidemiological and presentation software. A seminar series brings internationally renowned experts in public health to campus, who speak specifically with GCPE students.

The program's Capstone course enables students to apply the principles they are learning in class to solving real public health problems. Teams comprising GCPE students in the different specialty tracks will assess the needs of a specific community and work together-mostly online-to devise a strategic plan for the delivery of public health services that meet community needs and to outline intervention strategies for presentations made during closing ceremonies of the program.

"The GCPE provides an opportunity to expand the student body to include mid-career practicing professionals," Paul said. "We're laying the infrastructure for an executive MPH program."

Classes for the 1998-99 school year begin in July. Interested applicants should contact Beth Braun at 404-727-3317 or by e-mail at <gcpe@sph.emory.edu>.

-Lorri Preston

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