Academic journal article American Journal of Health Education

International Videoconferencing for Public Health Education: Linking the U.S. and Germany

Academic journal article American Journal of Health Education

International Videoconferencing for Public Health Education: Linking the U.S. and Germany

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

Background: Video-linking with other countries provides a low-cost vehicle for students to learn more about health issues of other cultures and reflectively discuss the public health promotion and education activities of those countries in real time. Purpose: This article presents a case study of international videoconferencing in the higher education setting. Methods: Undergraduate students enrolled in three different public health courses at East Carolina University (ECU) in Greenville, North Carolina, USA were linked with graduate students enrolled in the public health master's degree program at the Freie Universitat (FU) in Berlin, Germany for two videoconference sessions during the fall semester of 2008. A pre-post knowledge scale was administered to assess the impact of the learning modality with the student participants. Results: Utilizing this technology for fostering intercultural communication proved to be an effective method of instruction for student participants. Discussion: Intercultural communication has become a marketable skill for future public health professionals, and incorporating these communications skills into professional preparation programs provides unique learning experiences for students. Translation to Health Education Practice: Videoconferencing technology provides learners with synchronous experience for interacting with other cultures furthers understanding about global perspectives. Today, globalization introduces challenges and opportunities for health educators. Moreover, increasing communication and fostering dialogue between the future public health leaders improves knowledge levels and ideas for resource utilization.

BACKGROUND

Global initiatives in public health education continue to surge to the forefront, as our world becomes more interconnected due to modern transportation, greater reliance of exports, increased immigration, a global business market and the health inequalities or social injustices of others? In today's interconnected world, global health has become more relevant to health education. Higher education institutions have a responsibility to prepare future public health educators and educated citizens by integrating basic principles of global health to their public health education curriculum. Ensuring future health educators have global experience, may ensure they work towards social responsibility, health disparities and improving the health of others worldwide. (1) The millennium provides some of the greatest accomplishments and improvements in technology and global health. With death rates falling steadily, more progress has been made in population health, particularly in developing countries, during the last 50 years. (2) In the past three decades, nearly every sector, including health, has undergone a transformation in the way information is collected, managed and transmitted. (3) We are a technology-based society, and technology-based learning has produced a number of theories, including situated cognition, anchored instruction, and the community model, which illustrate the importance of technology and its impact on social interaction and effective learning. (4-7) Schools have now been transformed into sites of a multimedia culture which integrate audiovisual and telecommunication systems that students feel comfortable using and are expected to use in their school and professional life. (8) In addition, "technology-rich learning environments contribute definitely and positively to children's success in school." (9(p.27))

Videoconferencing is a live synchronous video, audio and integrated computer-based process that joins two parties at different locations for the purposes of communication. Participants can see and hear each other during the live call. In addition, computer applications such as PowerPoint[R], Adobe, or text messaging and media, such as DVDs, can be incorporated as additional instructional materials. …

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