It takes a village to meet online student demand

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Public health offers seven master’s degrees and 11 graduate certificates in an online or virtual format

How do six instructional designers manage more than 80 online courses in the USF College of Public Health?

“It takes a village and an extraordinary attention to detail,” said Sandhya Srinivasan, MPH, MEd, director of the college’s Office of Educational Technology and Assessment (ETA) and an alumna.

Leading the way in distance-based education, the college offers seven master’s degrees in an online or executive weekend format, as well as 11 graduate certificates.

“We were the first school of public health in the nation to offer a distance-based master’s degree in public health,” said Donna Petersen, ScD, dean of the USF College of Public Health and interim CEO of USF Health. “This is before online-teaching technology was even available and definitely before it was a cool thing to do.”

Providing faculty with the tools and knowledge to effectively use technology in their online courses is the academic charge of ETA. Through a collaborative work environment, a team of eight diverse professionals—6 instructional designers, one graphic designer, and a director—support dozens of faculty and more than 5,000 students to enhance their teaching/learning experience.

Jung Lim, PhD, MS, and Mr. Thomas Reilly, MAT, Med, are the latest inhabitants to join the ETA village.

“There’s a saying that ‘practice makes perfect’,” Dr. Lim said. “However, I believe that the practice must be designed in a way that helps learners to master skills more effectively and efficiently.”

A native of Seoul, Korea, her formal education includes a bachelor’s degree in educational technology, master’s degree in mass communication, and a doctorate in instructional systems.

Prior to joining the college, Dr. Lim taught journalism and educational technology courses at Northwestern State University in Louisiana. She also worked as a web developer and project manager in the private sector.

When she’s not contributing to the learning environment in the college, Dr. Lim spend her off hours with family, watching movies, and reminiscing about Louisiana cuisine.

Thomas Reilly and Dr. Jung Lim 2

Thomas Reilly joined ETA in December as a design assistant and was quickly promoted to instructional designer. He holds master’s degrees in instructional technology and teaching, as well as a bachelor’s degree in computer science.

Born in New York, but raised in Savannah, Reilly’s southern drawl is hard to miss. Prior to joining, ETA he taught math to high school students and tutored them privately.

Reilly shared, “Blending technology and innovative learning theories to teach students in the 21st century,” is what excited him most about joining ETA.

With 35 graduate and 51 undergraduate courses in the college this fall—including 12 that are new or revamped—he’ll have ample opportunities to do just that!

“Online enrollment is up,” Srinivasan said.  “When compared to fall 2012, we have a 21% increase in the number of undergraduate courses and 13% increase in graduate courses offered online.”

Currently, more than 5137 students are enrolled in online courses with the USF College of Public Health.