Interview with Megan Jehn of Arizona State
Professor Megan Jehn is the graduate and undergraduate program director for Global Health at Arizona State University. She is an epidemiologist and her research focuses on how socio-ecological systems can remain resilient when faced with disasters.
On her experiences with Yellowdig in a virtual classroom:
I used Yellowdig for the first time this spring in a large fully online Global Health course with 450 students. We have students from all over the world who enroll in our online degree programs and I was looking for a tool to better facilitate class discussion. Yellowdig replaced the traditional Blackboard discussion boards that we had been using because these discussion boards weren’t creating meaningful engagement for students. Our online programs run in 7-week blocks and so it is important to have a dynamic platform where students can quickly bond and peer learning can happen effortlessly.
On discussing news of outbreaks in class:
One of the interesting things about a Global Health class is that there is always some type of health crisis happening somewhere in the world. For example, the Zika outbreak was a major news item this spring when I was teaching and it was fascinating for me to watch the students react to the news reports. I was able to quickly determine what the students were discussing, whether they were concerned about the outbreak and where they were obtaining their information (and more importantly, whether those sources were reliable). By quickly identifying common questions, misconceptions and concerns, I was able to immediately record and post a lecture for the class addressing some of the issues that I observed in the discussions, thus creating a online learning environment driven by the students.
On the relevance of content posted in Yellowdig:
Every week I post a Yellowdig discussion question related to the course content. Students are required to address that particular discussion question and they are always welcome to post current events related to the module material for that week. I had very few issues with students posting irrelevant content.
On interesting conversations on Yellowdig:
The Zika outbreak generated really intense discussions with the students in terms of poverty and social justice, health in developing countries and how politics shape the public health response. Global Health students have very diverse academic backgrounds from Engineering, Medicine, Environmental Science, Business, Law, etc. as well as different social, demographic and religious backgrounds.
Students were able to engage in very meaningful discussions about the social complexities of health and disease and it was exciting to see them sharing their personal experiences and knowledge with one another in a respectful way. I had many students tell me that they missed the conversation once they were finished with the course.
On virtual office hours:
If there was some way I could sort of merge what I do in Google Hangouts [to Yellowdig]. I could also have possible groups of students where I could [do] virtual video calls and chats, kind of like virtual office hours possibly.