In a few years, Dr. James Brown says the majority of public health workers in the state will reach the retirement age, and New Jersey will be in need of a new generation of epidemiologists, statisticians and public health nurses.
The Kean University professor, in collaboration with the New Jersey Public Health Training Center at UMDNJ, adapted his online public health course to be used at the state's community college as a way to introduce more students to the field.
Using a cloud-based platform, called SoftChalk Cloud, Brown created the course in modules that can be adapted into any school's online learning platform. So far, Burlington County College and Valley Community College have completed a session of the class; Brown taught the class in South Jersey, while a local public health professional taught the course at Raritan Valley. Camden County College is offering the course this fall.
All 19 New Jersey community colleges have the ability to provide the class to students, through a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Public Health Training Center, but Brown said he expects about 10 schools to implement the program.
Brown said the program is especially novel, as its cloud-based format allows him to update the material from anywhere he has an Internet connection. This way, adjunct professors need only to choose the modules to teach and keep track of students performance, which can also be done through the course.