Fairmont State Professor Receives Grant to Provide Open Education Resources to Students  

Thursday, November 19, 2020

The West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission and the Community and Technical College System has provided a grant to support faculty seeking to create or adopt open education resources to use in college courses. The opportunity was presented by the WVHEPC to combat economic hardships placed on college students as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.   

According to Lumen Learning, open education resources include full courses, course materials, modules, textbooks, streaming videos, tests, software and any additional tools, materials or techniques used to support access to knowledge.  

Fairmont State University’s associate professor of Community Health, Dr. Janie Leary, has been awarded the OER grant to enhance learning in the Communication Techniques for Health Promotion course.  

“Making health materials available to everyone, regardless of cost or demographics, is a hallmark of health promotion,” Leary said. “Applying OER to a health communication course further supports the lessons presented to students.” 

Leary will utilize grant funding to update the framework of The Cancer Institute’s Making Health Communication Programs Work, last updated in the early 2000s. The text outlines basic content related to health communication but is lacking current communication techniques, best practices and research.  

The proposed text updates will include the following:  

  • Updating communication channels to include social media, smartphones and other advances in communication. 
  • Current methods and techniques for evaluation of health communication programs. 
  • Examples of communication programs used in today’s diverse communities. 
  • Developing an electronic toolbox for use in the course and community. 

“Once the course and text are updated, keeping the materials current will ensure students and program graduates have access to useful resources. The OER materials will also provide guidance to organizations throughout the state and world working to promote health within their respective communities,” Leary concluded.  

In addition to the funds awarded, Leary will be publicly recognized as a participating faculty member in the statewide OER initiative and will encourage and facilitate peer-to-peer support.  

“I often talk about the transformative impact Fairmont State has on our communities, and I can think of no finer example than Dr. Leary’s upcoming research,” Mirta M. Martin, president of Fairmont State University, said. “Our region, perhaps more than any other, faces significant barriers in accessing quality health care. With the aid of this grant, Dr. Leary’s updates will help empower community health professionals to better deliver health care and community health education.” 

The Bachelor of Science degree in Community Health provides students with the knowledge and skills to work in community-based programs. Program graduates work to promote positive health behaviors and prevent disease by collaborating with individuals and communities. Employment opportunities are available in non-profit, government, healthcare and business sectors. For more information about the program, contact jleary2@fairmontstate.edu.