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Teaching Health Economics in the time of COVID-19
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University academics around the world have been plunged into switching from onsite to online teaching overnight.  Preparing online training materials is time consuming, particularly for those who may not be familiar with some of the technologies available.

To support health economics teachers in making this transition, the iHEA Teaching Health Economics Special Interest Group (THE SIG) is launching this blog, where any health economist can post information and ideas that may be helpful to colleagues.  We particularly encourage the following types of postings:

  • Tips on and resources for developing online teaching materials, whether this relates to conveying content (from lectures to annotated reading guides); free and paid software that can be used for delivery; arranging student activities such as collaborative group projects; or online assessments;
  • URL/web addresses of useful health economics training materials – whether this a Youtube video or podcast that you have found particularly helpful in your teaching program or materials that you have developed and that are in the public domain;
  • Questions and answers for your teaching challenges.

Sharing training materials can help colleagues and our learners at this time of global crisis.  iHEA also has a training materials repository, which is still in relatively early stages of development and doesn’t yet include many online teaching materials.  Many may have prepared online materials for their students but these may be located on a website that is only accessible to students within their institution.  If you are willing to share these materials through the iHEA repository as Open Educational Resources (OER) on a Creative Commons basis, please upload your materials here.  Please note that you should not submit material which includes copyrighted elements that are not appropriately attributed.

To get the ball rolling, a few tips from conveners of the iHEA Teaching Health Economics Special Interest Group:

  • Possibly the easiest starting point in preparing online materials quickly is adding narration to your existing Powerpoint (PPT) teaching slides (see quick guides on how to do that here and here)
  • Please recognize that the entire world is now online most of the time – schools and universities in most countries have switched to online teaching, meetings are happening online rather than face-to-face and many confined to home are linking in to streaming services like Netflix for entertainment. This is placing enormous strain on the internet. So, it is best to ‘keep it simple’ – avoid including large embedded files and photos in your PPT slides to keep the file size as small as possible. This will also help those in low- and middle-income countries with limited bandwidth and high data costs.
  • Some institutions may not have an account with Webex, Zoom, GoToMeeting or one of the other paid online meeting platforms to allow academics to engage directly with students. Microsoft Teams offers a free alternative.

Please join the conversation and post your 'top tips' and information on where to find useful resources; and please share your online teaching resources to facilitate uninterrupted health economics training activities around the world.


Please submit your comment below for review and it will be posted online once reviewed.

5/18/2020 Preeti Zanwar, Texas A&M University School of Public Health

  Here are few publicly available survey datasets that I have incorporated in my online graduate classes
to foster active and applied learning, and for interdisciplinary group research projects leading to
peer-reviewed reports for journals, while building analytic skills in learners. We use Stata
Statistical Software for data driven hands-on learning.

1. Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (a nationally representative sample of American households,
their medical providers on how frequently individuals and families use health care, health insurance,
and the cost of their healthcare). MEPS data is available from 1996 to present (2017) at

2. Health and Retirement Survey (HRS), an internationally harmonized longitudinal panel study on the
health and economic circumstances of adults over age 50 in the United States. Data available since 1990.

3. Longitudinal Aging Study of India (LASI), an internationally harmonized longitudinal panel study of India's
population aged 45 and older. LASI collects information conceptually comparable to that gathered by the
U.S. HRS and its sister surveys in Asia, Europe, and elsewhere.

The publicly available HRS and LASI internationally harmonized data allows for cross-national comparative
studies on aging. Two waves of LASI data from multiple States in India are available. Data includes a host
of demographic and socio economic indicators to enrich scientific insights and policy development.

HRS and LASI harmonized data is available from upon user registration.

3/30/2020 Di McIntyre, University of Cape Town

A recurring message I hear from all those working from home/in lockdown is that everything
seems to take much longer to do, particularly in households with young children.
The same will be experienced by students. It is important to assess what assignment load is
feasible in the current context - less is probably more.

3/29/2020 Lisa Gold, Deakin University

Totally agree with all points above about keeping it simple and remembering that
students are simultaneously looking for contact and struggling (technologically and emotionally)
with keeping to schedules. 
There's a great take on all this here:

In brief: we're doing this temporarily, we need to "make do", it doesn't have to be cutting-edge technology
or pedagogy, it just needs to work.
But it needs to work for all students, so:
1) find out now which students are struggling to get the IT to work - they didn't sign up to study online,
so often don't have the right tech, and the stores are now all sold out. They have probably been trying
for a week now, so will know what they can and can't access.

2) keep the file size as small as possible (sorry, but no cute pictures, and just post the links to the great
diagrams/useful YouTube/TedX clip that says it better than I ever can) and pay attention to bandwidth
- e.g., have cameras on at the start of a session to say hi, then turn them all off.

3) lecture live if you can, as students will feel more connected if they can "raise hand" and post questions
- but record & post for those that can't join live.

4) find a second-best way for students to engage in small-group tutorials/seminars if they can't join live
- discussion board posts or similar.

5) don't panic if you need to quickly invent alternative assessments that don't quite fit the course
aims and objectives because on-campus exams will not be happening.

And remember that for students (and for you) there's a lot more important stuff going on than Uni at the moment,
but that on the other hand you have suddenly become a welcome friendly face/voice to catch up
with once or twice a week. 

3/26/2020 Mustafa Hussein, UW-Milwaukee Zilber School of Public Health

  I wanted to share with you a couple of things I found promising for delivering
content that you’d normally teach on a whiteboard, especially if you also would
like to share slides and/or computer screen (e.g. if you’re teaching econometrics in Stata, R, etc).

Meeting platforms with white boards: Both Collaborate Ultra (CU) (on Canvas) and
Zoom allow a whiteboard to be launched during the session. Instructions for CU can be
found here (, and for Zoom
here ( These default
whiteboards are good if you’re also sharing slides and/or computer screen on either platform.
On both platforms, you should be able to record your entire session, including slide delivery,
screen sharing, and whiteboard delivery.

ShowMe + Apple Pencil: if you have an iPad with an Apple Pencil, the ShowMe free app
provides a much more tactile white board than either CU or Zoom. ShowMe also allows you to
record your voice over the session and share it. For more information and to download the app,
go here ( I think it’s
fairly straightforward to use.
If you mainly deliver your content via a white board in the classroom,
then this is probably a great option for asynchronous delivery. You can record your own session, and
then share it with the students to see, much like YouTube statistics videos.
A Bit Advanced: If you
would like to use the ShowMe app together with a meeting platform, to also share slides and screen,
Zoom is the way to go. This is great for either synchronous or asynchronous teaching.
Open Zoom on your laptop/desktop computer, click “Share Screen”, and choose iPad/iPhone
screen either via AirPlay or via USB cable (detailed instructions here:
This will allow you to deliver your slides, share computer screen, and share iPad screen
(where you have ShowMe open). The main advantage of this setup is to make use of ShowMe’s
interactive whiteboard, instead of the default whiteboard on Zoom.

P.S.#1 I do not think this whole setup works with CU, to the best of my knowledge.

P.S.#2 If you just need to share slides and the whiteboard, but not statistical software,
you could use Zoom or CU on an iPad, though I personally found that a bit clumsy.
Also, CU does not allow screen sharing on an iPad.

P.S.#3 I do not think ShowMe is available on Android tablets. I think it’s available
on Chromebooks. You may be able to find alternative apps that work on Android devices.

3/24/2020 Allen Goodman, Wayne State University

As a founding member of the THE SIG, I applaud this effort. I have established a COVID-19
blog at It may provide some teaching and discussion resources.
I also have course teaching materials at
(undergraduate course) and (graduate course).
They are not password protected, so feel free to use.

3/24/2020 Elizabeth Pitney Seidler, Regis College

  My university went to fully online teaching on March 16. We are fortunate enough that in anticipation
of the demand, we upgraded to a pro-license for faculty. This and the subscription versions
give you more than the 40 minute time limit. However, I have read that Zoom is extending the
time limit with no additional costs during the pandemic.
I find Zoom to be the most effective way to convert
classes from face-to-face and hybrid to fully on line. Students are anxious, confused and "stressed out."
I have observed full and better
attendance for the Zoom meetings than I had on campus. The students are
looking for continuity and camaraderie.

Here are the features I have found most helpful:
1. screen sharing with an option for a white board built in - note, if you do not have a touch screen it
can be cumbersome so consider getting an inexpensive writing tablet

2. students can give their own presentations with screen sharing their own files, or you can give a student
control over screen sharing

3. breakout rooms for group work - you can assign or use a random assignment feature
4. Recording the session. It is best to record locally on your own device. When the meeting has concluded,
Zoom will download a link to your class. This is helpful for students who are way out of your time zone, have missed
the meeting, or would like to review. If you record on the cloud, it takes much longer (days) to create, but you will
also get a closed-captioning file of the meeting. I upload to my LMS (Moodle) and also schedule the meeting
on Moodle.

5. If students do not have a camera, they can still hear and view your class
6. Zoom allows for "live" interaction

Hack: When using Zoom, ask students to mute their mics. They can pop in and ask a question by
depressing the space bar while they speak.
If you are not familiar with Zoom and would like have a Zoom meeting
with me, please email me at

3/24/2020 Heather Brown, Newcastle University

Google docs or Microsoft Teams can be used for group work to keep up collaboration between students.

3/23/2020 David Bishai, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

For those of you teaching econometrics in Stata here is a tip.
1. Add on software will download tables from Covid case count data servers.
2, Download cumulative case counts as follows
3, Download cumulative death counts as follows:

  You can relabel the variables and destring with a few more lines--very nice exercise for them to then practice basic data management.

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