Developing a Distance-Learning Program

Marguerite Neita, Ph.D.

October 31, 2007

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An Associate Professor of Allied Health, Dr. Marguerite Neita started her career as a laboratory scientist at the University Hospital of the West Indies in Jamaica. Since then she has conducted research on health care disparities, diabetes, and the effects of nutrition and stress on the immune system. However, as the Chair of Howard University’s Department of Clinical Laboratory Science, she has become a leader in distance-learning as well as laboratory science. That is why judges from Howard University’s Teaching, Learning, and Technology (TLT) Committee chose Dr. Marguerite Neita as the winner of CETLA’s 2007 Teaching with Technology Award.

According to Dr. Neita, she has become “an advocate of the use of technology to disseminate the educational environment, to actively engage the student in the learning process, and to encourage collaborative learning activities.” One can see her commitment not only in her teaching but also in her effort to deliver her department’s B.S. program online. While the College of Pharmacy and Continuing Education have established successful distance-learning programs, their programs rely upon outside vendors for curriculum and/or faculty. In contrast, as chair of the Department of Clinical Laboratory Science, Dr. Neita and her colleagues have launched the first successful “homegrown” DL program via Howard’s Blackboard course management system.

To build a successful DL program, Dr. Neita created online and on-campus sections of each course. For instance, Dr. Neita brought together online and on-site students in her course CLLS 101: Introduction to Clinical Laboratory Science. Within the CLLS 101 Blackboard site, Dr. Neita created a student-centered learning space via interactive PowerPoint case studies, hyperlinks to animations and videotapes, discussion board forums, interviews with professionals, self-scoring quizzes, and group poster projects. Anonymous evaluations and the group posters confirmed that the course fulfilled its objectives and that both on-campus and online students appreciated the learning experience. Therefore, Dr. Neita has become a valuable resource for faculty who are interested in distance-learning.

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