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Design for Extreme Scalability: An Introduction to Health Media Innovation

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Transmitting important messages to the public, rapidly and in a compelling format, can help people to lead happier, healthier and more informed lives. We saw this during the COVID-19 pandemic, when an urgent need arose to disseminate science-based health messages to the public. Because levels of education and literacy vary, didactic and overly technical media messages often miss the audiences that need them the most. Adolescents and young adults are often among the hardest to reach with effective public health messages. At the same time, these audiences are the highest consumers of short video content via social media, presenting an interesting opportunity for public health educators.

This course examines various approaches to increasing the reach and effectiveness of digital health communication for global dissemination. We examine existing evidence-based frameworks including human-centered design, the use of narratives, entertainment-education and how we can apply the principles of universal design for learning to our efforts to engage a broad, global audience.

We will also explore novel use cases for animated video interventions in global settings and innovative research methods for evaluating the effectiveness of digital health content, using large, online randomized controlled experiments. This innovative approach to measuring impact emerged out of necessity during the pandemic but is likely here to stay. Students will be exposed to the theory, science and creative process needed to create and test engaging digital communication media. In small groups, students will apply this knowledge to the creation of their own public-facing media message on a topic of interest, integrating new technical skills with art and communication.

Meet the Instructor(s)

Maya Adam, M.D.

Dr. Adam is the Director of Health Media Innovation and a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at Stanford School of Medicine. She creates video-based entertainment-education on topics related to maternal child health, nutrition and disease prevention. She has designed and produced online educational content for the Stanford School of Medicine for use in their preclinical programs, continuing medical education programs and global health promotion efforts. She is the Faculty Lead for the Global Child Health Media Initiative and the creator of eight massive open online courses reaching more than a million learners around the world. Adam is principal investigator on two randomized-controlled trials investigating the impact of digital global health education interventions on health-promoting behaviors. Her research is conducted in collaboration with the Heidelberg Institute of Global Health in Heidelberg, Germany. She is a Faculty Fellow at the Center for Innovation in Global Health and the author of Food, Love, Family: A Practical Guide to Child Nutrition.