Leveraging tech for collaborative student projects in Public Health

Much of the work is collaborative in the field of public health and environmental health sciences (EHS).

The College of Public Health's (CPH) PUBHEHS 3310: Current Issues in Global Environmental Health course is designed to introduce students to the fundamental environmental factors and processes that impact the health and well-being of humans locally, regionally, and internationally. For this course, instructor Dr. Paul Rosile, associate professor of Public Health Practice in the Division of Environmental Health Sciences, worked with CPH's Instructional Design Coordinator and Drake Institute Affiliate Margaret DiMaria to create a collaborative assignment that required students to work in groups to create an artifact that creatively demonstrated their ability to communicate major concepts learned in the course.  

"We wanted a solution that would allow the instructor and GTA to not only see achieved conversation (to help ensure all members of the groups were contributing equally) but one that would allow them to monitor multiple conversations at once and participate in real time," Margaret noted,

Knowing that students would need to work together to determine the best way to explain how and why their topic or concept is essential to environmental health, students were placed into Microsoft Teams and added to group channels they used to meet, chat, and share files.  Dr. Rosile states “After students worked through some tutorials and submitted a low-stakes practice assignment, they adapted quickly to this team-based learning environment.”  The work was done during one of the weekly required class synchronous sessions, just as an in-person flipped classroom. Both Paul and Heather Lochotzki (AU 22 and SP23 course Graduate Teaching Assistant) monitored group activity, joined channel meetings, broadcasted announcements in real time, and worked to resolve student issues or questions. 

"Teams was invaluable in allowing me to really get to know the students in this online course. The small group settings allowed me to collaborate with the students in an interactive way weekly," Heather says about the project. 

All the work was done in one central space, allowing easy access to files shared or previous conversations. Teams Insights was also used to take attendance. The student response was overwhelmingly positive, with one student saying, "I like using teams for the creative element project; it is easy to use to communicate with team members." 

Heather adds, "Students have informed me that they truly appreciate and enjoy utilizing the Teams platform during designated weekly sessions to work with their group members on the projects, as it is collaborative and productive regarding time management." 

Microsoft Teams is currently being used in this same course again for the Spring 2023 semester.