MEETING THE NEEDS OF NONTRADITIONAL RESPONDERS THROUGH SUCCESSFUL ONLINE COURSES IN BIOTERRORISM RESPONSE
KeywordsAsynchronous Instructor-Led Online Learning,e-Learning,Government e-Learning,Higher Education– Government Partnership
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AbstractThe Monroe County (NY) Health Alert Network (MCHAN) and the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) recently completed their second year of a Centers for Disease Control grant-funded project that offers a series of instructor-led asynchronous online learning courses. The courses are designed to enhance the workforce competencies of local and state health department staff and other nontraditional responders in planning for and responding to bioterrorism and other health emergencies. The project meets an important need for critical skills and knowledge training in this field and demonstrates how partnerships of higher education, government, and industry can deliver such training online. Contrary to the results of many e-learning initiatives, the vast majority (84%) of students involved in the program successfully completed the courses they started. Student and instructor evaluation surveys show high degrees of satisfaction and success; they also provide useful information on how to improve the courses. A critical element in the success of the courses was the employment of a program coordinator to manage course creation, instructor training, marketing, and registration. If one considers project costs relative tocompletion rates, this project has been highly cost effective despite the added cost of paying instructors. Overall, project results indicate that the asynchronous instructor-led online course model can be implemented successfully in many corporate and government e-learning initiatives.