For thirty years, SDSU GSPH students and their counterparts around the country have been trained in health communication and social marketing via text-dense books that demonstrate little of the material they describe nor for that matter are very critical of flawed ‘health com’ campaigns. Professor John Elder and recent Global Health doctoral student Joe Smyser are tackling this problem through their development of an open source health com text titled “The Global Communication Project”, which is released in collaboration with social media company Tumblr.
We’re hoping to develop a dynamic and ever-evolving text that will go beyond regional, cultural and even linguistic tethers but instead can be adapted by users universally. The Global Communication Project not only will take our own Health Promotion MPH students into the future but should also be attractive to students and practitioners in allied health professions, psychology and other fields. The “book” is designed to allow professors, health administrators, communication experts, and community members around the world to structure and tailor it to their own students, staff, and network.
Taught as PH663 here, The Global Communication Project goes far beyond more typical passive learning exercises. We build this experience around a four-step “study-analyze-research-create” sequence: 1) students will read material we produce and listen to TED Talks and other lectures to which we link them, 2) analyze communication ‘pieces’ we provide that comprise both good and bad examples of the application of the principles being discussed, 3) research and evaluate their own examples of various health com pieces, and finally, 4) create their own health communication pieces and campaigns, working alone or with other learners with whom they are linked either through our open access format or within their campus or agency learning environment. All four steps of this sequence are applied throughout the course up to and including the final exam. Thus, the students are using social media to navigate the class, part of which emphasizes using social media for health communication.
The class of 2016 rated this experience very favorably, summed up by one student’s comments:“I would highly suggest using the Tumblr as a forum to post examples of health marketing for future classes, instead of turning it all in through Blackboard. It would allow students to see examples from their peers and respond before in-class discussions.”
Sound interesting? Please check out http://globalcommunicationproject.tumblr.com, give it a test drive, and let us know what you think!