How UIC faculty connect with students through online learning

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Speakers: Dr. Miriam Isola, Clinical Assistant Professor, Department of Biomedical and Health Information Sciences & Dr. Spyros Kitsiou, Assistant Professor, Department of Biomedical and Health Information Sciences

Summary: Are you curious about how professors connect with their students in the online learning environment? The faculty at UIC use numerous tools like videos, individual and group feedback, and online discussions to connect with students. UIC’s programs are asynchronous, which means students aren’t required to log in at a particular time of day.

Learn more about UIC’s health informatic programs.


There’s a variety of ways I connect with students in this program. Our system that we use provides us with a number of different tools so we can do things like collaboration online, class discussions online, and we have a variety of different video and written materials that we use. I record videos to introduce my classes, and this allows people to see my face and hear my voice, and so that starts building a good connection. During the courses, I like to also record videos to introduce the units. This way, I can have a hand in steering their efforts as they’re studying for each of the units and preparing their assignments. We also build a good connection by giving individual and group feedback every week. It’s the communication back and forth that’s really important, and feedback is a part of that. Our students really value getting individualized, personalized feedback, so we do that every week, and this is the chance for me to zero in on what they’re doing well and what I want to see more from them on.

One other thing that I also do in my class is I like to bring my own research in the classroom and discuss it and solicit feedback from the students because the research we do relates to carrying out healthcare promise as chronic disease management. So just to bring an example, one of my recent studies is investigating the effectiveness of using Fitbit devices to motivate patients to be physically active and reduce their sedentary lifestyles, patients with cardiovascular disease. So this semester I started talking to my students about this research study and posed questions on how we can maintain patient engagement, how we can use text messaging and other M Health tools, such as e-mails or internet-based notifications, to keep the patients motivated to increase their exercise or daily physical activity and basically introduce a healthy lifestyle intervention by changes in this behavior.