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K-State Today

April 18, 2012

Going global: Instructor's worldwide expertise brings global health class on campus, online for May intersession

Submitted by Communications and Marketing

Deborah Briggs travels all over the world. But for a few weeks this summer, her location will be certain: on campus at Kansas State University in Manhattan, teaching a course for May intersession.

Last fall, Briggs branched out. The adjunct professor of diagnostic medicine pathobiology in the university's College of Veterinary Medicine diverted from her face-to-face, regularly offered intersession class, Emerging Diseases, and developed an eight-week online class, Global Health Issues, offered via distance education.

Now, along with teaching Global Health Issues in the eight-week online format in August, Briggs will offer Global Health Issues in May as an on-campus intersession class.

Briggs said that offering the class on campus and online was important for students who may not be able to attend classes in Manhattan.

"I wanted to set up the class so students would be able to choose whether to take it on campus or online," Briggs said. "By providing it online, students who can't come to campus can still take Global Health Issues. Last semester I had students from Uzbekistan, the Caribbean and the U.S. take the course."

Teaching online was new territory for Briggs.

"I love the one-on-one interaction with students because you never know where the discussion is going," Briggs said. "But I saw that more and more students are off campus and they want to have access to bigger and more extensive online classes, so I thought I would give it a try."

Because the eight-week session is online, it allows for the fairly seamless introduction of material that may be affected by the fluid nature of global public health, such as outbreaks of contagious diseases. This may be achieved by the impromptu addition of informational links and interactive real-time maps for real-time situational awareness. All of this information also will be available to students in the on-campus intersession course in May.

Briggs, who lives in France most of the year, brings her international experiences to the classroom to provide a firsthand look at global health issues.

The course presents slide shows featuring photos from her travels as well as several video interviews from international experts. According to an article Briggs recently published in Educause Quarterly, these elements were included in the class curriculum to provide strengthened interactivity and to emphasize the worldwide nature of global public health.

"Global health is a major issue we all face and there are aspects of it we really don't think about. People in different countries approach these issues differently," she said.

Although Briggs wants to spend more time teaching on the Manhattan campus, she sees a need for more online courses and programs for global health professionals.

"We're all so busy, so to actually come and spend eight weeks in a particular city is pretty difficult," she said. "Online and e-communications are incredible tools and we really need to take more advantage of them."

The university's May intersession runs from May 14-June 1, and August intersession from July 30-Aug. 17. More information on intersession courses is available at http://www.dce.k-state.edu/courses/intersession/students/.