Starting out as a freshman or transfer student on NC State University’s campus can be an overwhelming experience. With new people, new schedules and new experiences, even the most prepared students can feel a little lost at times. That’s where the Wolfpack Wellness project comes in.
In 2015, NC State Dining’s Director of Nutrition and Wellness Lisa Eberhart came to the Distance Education and Learning Technology Applications (DELTA) with a vision that would help new students become familiar with their new home at NC State and all the wellness resources it offers. This vision would also satisfy an objective as part of the Partnership for a Healthier America’s Healthy Campus Initiative, of which NC State is the only university to meet all 23 objectives.
The project kicked off in August 2016 with the help of several campus leaders, including former University Recreation employees, Stacy Connell and Suanne Hunt, University Wellness Specialist Shannon DuPree, DELTA’s Lead Instructional Designer and project lead Cathi Dunnagan, Lead Interaction Designer/Developer and media lead Ben Huckaby, PHP Web Developer and Moodle gamification developer Steve Bader and Lead Project Coordinator Laurie Gyalog. Coordinator of Wellness Programs Alexis Steptoe joined the team in the fall of 2017 to replace Hunt. Together these leaders would join forces to create an initiative from the collective wellness resources on campus: University Recreation, NC State Dining, Student Health Services, Counseling Center and Alcohol and Other Drug Prevention Education.
Housed in Moodle, the Wolfpack Wellness project aims to familiarize students not only with the wellness resources on campus, but also with the primary learning management system used at NC State. The module includes six elements of wellness: career, financial, physical, social, emotional and community. The game-like structure of the module allows students to track their personal advancements using progress bars, a new feature that was created specifically for Wolfpack Wellness.
Huckaby describes the Wolfpack Wellness project as holding an appreciable balance between providing a fun platform on which students can engage and learn about the university as well as an educational environment. “It’s still recognizable and achieves the mission of introducing students to Moodle and the typical format for a Moodle course, but it is lively and interesting with the use of graphics, imagery and different interactive activities so it doesn’t feel like a Moodle course.”
Students can familiarize themselves with many aspects of college life before they even attend their first class, as the module introduces them to various real-life locations on campus where they can learn how to keep a healthy diet, manage their emotional and physical well-being and many other challenges that campus students face on a regular basis.
At Carmichael Gym, students can learn about the benefits of different fitness activities and are encouraged to create a weekly fitness routine by exploring activities available on campus. The Student Health Center and Counseling Center focus on the physical and emotional health of students and provide information about resources available throughout the year, such as setting up personal appointments with certified physicians, dietitians and therapists. Even as a game, these virtual experiences provide realistic scenarios as situations are all based off of real-life cases the Counseling Center has helped with in the past. The module also includes information on resources, such as the Career Development Center, assistance with financial aid and managing a budget.
Moving forward, the project is set to take effect during the fall semester of 2018. Dunnagan and Huckaby feel confident that the initiative will help students feel more comfortable around campus and enhance academic success as a result.
“This will allow incoming students to have a solid base of wellness resources right at the beginning of their higher education journey,” Steptoe said. “Our hope is that students will be better equipped to access, share and utilize services as they progress through their education at State.”
This story was originally posted by NC State DELTA.