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Distance Learning in Alaska

University of Alaska Anchorage students can earn a Master's degree in Public Health without ever traveling to a university campus, a necessity for the state's many residents living in remote areas.
Distance Learning in Alaska

Heading toward Alaska's Mount Iliamna.

University of Alaska Anchorage students can earn a Master's degree in Public Health without ever traveling to a university campus, a necessity for the state's many residents living in remote areas.

December 21, 2011

When more than 50 percent of a state's villages and towns are not connected by roads, distance education can no longer be considered a novelty. These days, University of Alaska Anchorage students can earn a Master's degree in Public Health without ever traveling to a university campus.

The University of Alaska Anchorage is one of the few accredited MPH degree programs in the nation that is offered entirely online. The program attracts a wide array of students, from recent baccalaureate graduates to mid-career professionals. The diversity of the program's student body, coupled with the distance-based format, creates rich connections but also poses some challenges.

"We have a wide range of students who all learn differently," noted Assistant Professor Elizabeth Hodges Snyder, PhD, MPH. "We are always looking for new ways to incorporate various teaching methods so that we are discussing concepts in multiple ways."

Snyder uses online discussion boards, recorded audiovisual lectures, and assigned readings, all delivered in weekly units on an online learning area. She also links to NWCPHP online courses to augment her teachings.

"I'm very glad to have these resources, especially the discussion of logic models. Students seem to struggle with logic models, and it's amazing to have a second resource to offer them if they don't understand the way I explain it," Snyder said.

In her recent program evaluation class, Snyder incorporated NWCPHP's Data Collection for Program Evaluation, Logic Models and Outcome Measurement, and Program Evaluation in Environmental Health into her syllabus.

In addition to the training modules, Snyder says she also refers students to NWCPHP's monthly e-postcard series, We Are Public Health. "It's a nice thing to pass along to students every month during the semester. It provides them with examples of what they might find themselves doing as public health professionals."

In addition to her work at the University of Alaska Anchorage, Snyder also teaches a distance-based soil, water, and public health course for the University of Florida.

 

Please note: NWCPHP is always interested in learning more about experiences with distance-based learning formats to better inform the online trainings we provide. If you have any input you would like to share, please e-mail nwcphp@u.washington.edu.

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