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ActivEpi Web

ActivEpi Web

ActivEpi Web, a multimedia electronic textbook that provides an interactive resource to learn the fundamentals of epidemiology, is now available on-line at no cost. ActivEpi includes 15 lessons with narrated instructional expositions that use video and animation; interactive study questions and quizzes; and homework exercises. Topics covered include study designs, measures of frequency and effect, potential impact, overview of validity, selection information and confounding bias, effect modification, analysis of 2x2 tables, options for control of variables, stratified analysis, matching and introduction to logistic regression. Health professionals and students in the United States and abroad have used ActivEpi for standard lecture courses, online courses and individualized learning. A CD... Show More
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Linda Hazlett
Linda Hazlett (Faculty)
3 years ago

I reviewed this book with the thought of using it for an undergraduate epidemiology class. Therefore, my comments and overall rating about this online resource should be read with that in mind.  The author recommends Lessons 1-5 if the textbook is used for this target audience.  

Content

The content of ActivEpi is comprehensive and represents current thinking in the field of epidemiology.  These concepts are often taught in masters level epidemiology methods courses, and I would suggest that group as a target audience.  

Format of ActivEpi

The layout of the textbook is simple and very well thought out.  The homepage lists all 15 lessons.  If you click on a lesson, you will see a brief overview of the lesson along with links for 3-5 mini-lessons, homework exercises and a list of references for that lesson.  

I highly recommend that you watch the video listed under Lesson 1: Introduction – How to Use ActivEpi Web (video) as you will find valuable information for navigating the website.  For example, ActivEpi has a great glossary.  If you click on “Glossary”, you will see clickable buttons at the top of the page for each letter of the alphabet allowing you to quickly navigate to the correct glossary section.  Under the word, you will find its definition along with clickable links to where that word is used in different lessons.  

Once you have begun a lesson, key words used in that lesson are in clickable drop-down boxes along the right side of the page providing the definition.  On each lesson page, the content is primarily delivered in a series of short videos which stop often for the viewer to absorb the content, consider a question or perform a calculation.  

Quizzes are available at the end of most lesson pages which tests the user’s understanding of the content and ability to apply that knowledge.  Quizzes are automatically graded and the users are allowed unlimited attempts.  Homework assignments are given at the end of each lesson.  Answers to the homework lessons are available upon request from the author.  

A few suggestions

I have very few complaints about this textbook.  The textbook is laid out in lessons which cover everything from measures of frequency to counterfactuals and stratified analyses.  The content is comprehensive although I would have liked to see more on basic descriptive epidemiology, surveillance, reading scientific literature and ethics. 

The first content lesson (2), introduces students to epidemiology in terms of the overall picture using one study as an example which I like conceptually.  However, I think my students would really struggle with the content on those first two pages.  Several major epidemiologic concepts are introduced including: the study question, variable measurement, study design, measures of frequency/effect, bias and data analysis.  In addition, there are links which provide information about criteria for causality and a counterfactual basis for causation.  I am concerned undergraduate students will not be able to follow this lesson without previous exposure to those concepts.  

Summary

I believe that ActivEpi is a comprehensive, accurate, informative, easy to understand online textbook with a user friendly interactive interface.  I believe instructors who teach masters level epidemiology methods courses should seriously consider using this valuable online resource.    

Time spent reviewing site: at least 20 hours
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