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Education scholars collaborating on WHO immunization project

by the College of Education at Illinois / Jul 25, 2017

Education at Illinois scholars Bill Cope and Mary Kalantzis are working with The Geneva Learning Foundation and the World Health Organization (WHO) on improving teaching and learning for conducting high-quality, statistically robust vaccination-coverage surveys, which will focus on disease control in developing countries.

Cope and Kalantzis have worked in the past with The Geneva Learning Foundation on projects for WHO and the International Red Cross. The Geneva Learning Foundation is again collaborating with the University of Illinois on the upcoming survey project.

“The nonprofit Geneva Learning Foundation has strong associations to Geneva-based nongovernmental organizations and experiments with more engaging forms of knowledge creation and training. This is a mutual learning experience,” said Cope, a professor in the Department of Education Policy, Organization & Leadership.

With its focus on medical and public health education, Cope said the WHO project ties in with the National Science Foundation-funded project he is a principal investigator on titled “Assessing Complex Epistemic Performance in Online Learning Environments.” That project focuses on developing online software tools that assess and give feedback to learners in the medical field, individuals who must communicate complex scientific and technical information.

In addition, Cope said the survey project has associations to the university’s longstanding partnership with Njala University College in Sierra Leone, also a land-grant institution.   

The learning initiative will be developed in Scholar, which allows for collaborative knowledge construction that contrasts to transmission-based models of traditional learning delivery, according to Cope. The late-August course will be open to epidemiologists and statisticians who are involved with or interested in vaccination-coverage surveys.

The course will last through December and encompasses three intensive digital learning modules that aim to develop both the technical skills and leadership qualities required to successfully assist countries in the adoption of the 2015 WHO recommendations for conducting vaccination-coverage surveys, which are needed to obtain reliable data for immunization programs.

A past WHO pilot course for immunization professionals in developing countries on Scholar titled “Using Global Routine Immunization Strategies and Practices to achieve better immunization outcomes” drew more than 800 applicants from 70 countries. The majority of course participants said they would use the project they developed in the course in their next annual immunization work plan.