Alumni Spotlight: Monica Huelga, MPH

Monica Huelga, who completed her Master of Public Health practicum presentation on environmental health literacy, stands in front of the Pacific ocean with a sailboat in the background
In celebration of our Graduate Programs in Public Health’s successful CEPH reaccreditation, we sat down with Monica Huelga, MPH ’18, who found herself at UNE Online rather serendipitously. Monica is passionate about the power of communication to promote global health and equality. She completed her applied practice experience on environmental health literacy at the non-profit MEarth Carmel while working at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Congratulations again on graduating last year! What inspired you to go for your MPH in the first place? I’ve always been drawn to health and distance studies. I received my undergrad from University of Washington in medical anthropology and global health, and I was trying to look at health in the bigger picture, the cultural perspective…

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Student Spotlight: Justin Kenney, Science Prerequisite Program

Headshot of Justin Kenney, who transitioned from music school to medical school by taking online prerequisite courses through UNE Online.
Ever since he can remember, Justin has always wanted to be a doctor–but his exceptional musical talent pulled him in a different direction after high school. Justin accepted a scholarship to study classical music at Vanderbilt University, where he graduated in 2014 with a BA in Classical Music. Prior to graduation, Justin started to realize that he couldn’t ignore his draw to the medical field, and soon he decided to pursue his childhood ambition of being a doctor. Continue reading to learn more about Justin’s journey from music major to studying for the MCAT, and all the online prerequisite courses for medical school he took in between. You must be pretty talented if you went to college on a music…

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How many students take courses at UNE Online?

A portion of a map that highlight countries in which students are taking online courses at UNE Online
As more students enroll in online programs than ever before, UNE Online’s student population and alumni network are growing by leaps and bounds. Our learners now log in all over the world, lending their diverse perspectives to every class and every discussion. Now, as you consider or undertake your educational journey, you can see just how many students are achieving their goals by taking courses through UNE Online and where they’re coming from. Be sure to interact with the maps to see how you can connect with our community through projects like #myUNEOnlineClassroom!


What do online graduate students want from instructors? Just ask them.

Online Graduate Students
Instructional strategies for online learning are a frequent topic of these posts, for good reason. A well designed online course relies on an intentional approach to learning supported by evidence and learning theory. Formative feedback, authentic learning, and instructor presence are examples of instructional strategies that are well-supported and effective for online learning. Using the right instructional strategies to facilitate learning is not only important to instructors and instructional designers, it is also important to students. So what do graduate students want? In a recently published study, online graduate students were asked what they wanted from instructors to facilitate learning. The most frequent responses were: “. . . 1) be available and responsive to students, 2) engage/interact with…

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Domain of One's Own

UNE Online Graduate Courses available globally
A short post today, because we are doing some work on the site and I only have a small window in which to get this up. Luckily, I have been studying something recently which I think deserves a bit of recognition, or at the very least some conversation. That something is the Domain of One’s Own movement, that started up at the University of Mary Washington and has spread to other universities. Predicated on the belief that learners benefit from intentional ownership over their online presence, which they can be encouraged to use as a platform for engaging with, and contributing to, the various fields in which they are involved, universities are giving students their own websites as an…

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The Student Perspective

Student Perspective
When we design or teach an online course, we spend time thinking about how to reach our students. We consider their prior learning and such things as the cognitive load of the class. These are essential considerations, but perhaps we can do more. We can turn the tables and look at the class from the student perspective. However, it is sometimes hard to put ourselves in our students’ place because we are so familiar with our own course and its subject matter. How can we overcome that barrier in order to see the class through the eyes of a student? Put some distance between yourself and the material. Take a break from it for as long as possible. Before you…

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Benefits of Taking Notes by Hand

mac and paper
Do you take notes by hand? In distance education, many students type lecture notes on their computers, rather than writing on paper. After all, students use laptops to watch lectures, answer assessment questions, and participate in class discussions. It’s only natural to use the same device for taking notes, too, right? Not so fast. Last year, Pam A. Mueller and Daniel M. Oppenheimer, researchers from Princeton University and the University of California, studied how the two note-taking methods affect student assessment performance. The results? In short, they found that taking notes on a laptop can “negatively affect performance on educational assessments.” If you’re reading this, perhaps you’re already nodding your head in agreement: Of course, computers can harm…

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Google Docs Add-Ons

Google Docs Add Ons
We’ve touted the benefits of using Google Drive in the past. This time, we’re going to talk about a new(ish) dimension of capabilities within Google Docs (and Google Sheets, though we’re not getting into that today), that empowers users to integrate functionality from a multitude of different services directly, contextually, within Google Docs. Google introduced add-ons to Google Docs and Sheets about a year ago, but the ecosystem of add-ons was pretty immature back then. Now, with a year gone by for services to develop add-ons, the choices are richer and more useful. First, in order to get/manage/activate/deactivate add-ons, you should open up a Google Doc. Look at the toolbar across the top of your sheet–there should be a tab…

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Audio Recordings

Audio Recordings
Over the last year, with the smoother integration of YouTube videos into the Blackboard system (such as Vide Everywhere, aka Record from Webcam), we have used the video features extensively and in an increasing number of courses. There are admittedly lots of advantages to taking courses online, but cultivating a robust community remains a challenge in distance education. So, using videos makes a small dent in this area, and YouTube has proven to be a fairly friendly working solution. We haven’t done much – in part due to the current configuration of Blackboard which is not too friendly to audio files – much (or anything) with audio recordings. There are at least a couple of courses though which use some…

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Interactive Stories

canoe line drawing
We have already talked about writing, let’s talk about writing interactive stories. In online courses, writing is often the predominant activity. It’s not just styles, grammar, and perfect APA citations that matter, of course. There are lots of skills that students must demonstrate when writing academic papers. What we don’t include as much is this dimension of interacting with writing (stories). Stories can lead you down different paths based on decisions (choices) made at certain crucial points in the narrative. Digital interactive stories have been around for a long time, as different technologies to support this sort of writing and user interface have been used – from a web of wikis to simple code to complex productions (like alternate endings…

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Why Use Word Clouds?

word cloud
Word Clouds You may be quite familiar with word clouds (by Wordle or Tagxedo, although lots more options also exist: thing 1 and thing 2). A whole bunch of text is popped into a word cloud engine and then – boom! – you only get a handful of words (you control the number) which are usually the most frequently used and/or the most important words of a larger text. Why use word clouds? On the one hand, you can analyze the text for focus or bias. On the other hand, you can fish out the most important words before you read the text (and then upon actively reading it, ascertain that your initial assumptions were correct or have…

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How do I check spelling in Outlook Web Access?

spell check icon
Spell checking is available in Internet Explorer 10 and later versions, and current versions of Firefox, Chrome, and Safari. Check the options for your web browser to learn more about how to use it to check spelling. To learn more about the browsers that are compatible with Outlook Web App, see Supported browsers for Outlook Web App. Spell check in Chrome (built-in) | A spell check extension for Chrome Spell check in Firefox (built-in) | Fancy way to enable spell check if all else fails (Firefox) There are also add-ons for Firefox, which I suggest you try and get back to us here with your findings. So far, none were particularly highly ranked, but I assume with 3 starts…

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Organizing Your Tasks

today's to-do list
We, the online folks, often have a running list of things to do, and our environment is such that we may be working in cafes, at home, at libraries, in hotels, you name it! Plus, the constant potential disruptions in the form of incoming Skype calls, emails, actual phone calls, meetings we need to attend, virtually or otherwise, and sudden issues that pop up or scheduled events, like grading a set of papers, and then there is this blog to read, which fortunately comes out at the most convenient time and has wonderful tips on how to keep your online sanity! Since we have been pushing Chrome as one of the better browsers for Blackboard, here is how you can…

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Other Options for Presentations (and Some Tips on Doing Research)

How to Override a Grade
At a request of a faculty member, I have been researching some video presentation options beyond the standard Microsoft PowerPoint presentation. I began my research in Google Docs (Google Drive). If you have never done it, you should at least give it a shot. You will like it. In fact, you may like the Research Tool enough to share with your students to use when they are working on their research papers. So, here are two tools I have looked up. WeVideo Online video editing, free for personal accounts with limits of 15 min movies exported in 480p (small, low res movies). Better options, including sharing media to edit, and creating shared projects for a fee. Download WeVideo Moovly Animated…

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