Developing Online Modules for a “Health and Wellness” Course: Adapting Active Learning Strategies to the Online Environment

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Active learning refers to activities that engage students in the learning process. To make the learning process more active, instructors should add opportunities for reflection. However, reflection is not limited to the classroom environment. Instruction is shifting toward incorporating opportunities for active learning through online platforms. We developed four online health topic modules—sexual health, nutrition, environmental health, and alcohol awareness—and evaluated 1,090 student responses to course content. Students provided feedback on the activities that aided in learning course content. Thematic analysis was conducted to systematically review the data and elicit meaning. Using an inductive approach to students’ feedback, we synthesized the excerpts, quotations, and entire passages from students’ open-ended responses. Three major themes constructed from the data were (a) mode of delivery of the course content, (b) applicability of the content to students’ lives and the community, and (c) structure of the modules. The design and implementation resulted in six lessons for educators: students were engaged when the content was applicable to their personal life, students valued learning about how public health affects their community, course content must provide opportunities for critical thinking and self-reflection, students valued the hybrid nature of the course, student feedback of the online modules promoted self-reflection, and students and instructors appreciated the worksheet that guided the online class.

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