Online Family Life Education Preparation?!

A recent conversation in my graduate parent education course is the catalyst for this post.  We were discussing the delivery of parent education intervention using online methods and technology.  During the course of the discussion, many students reported their desire to learn more about the ‘how to’ of online family life education programs. As a department, I think we do an excellent job of teaching both undergraduate and graduate students how to select appropriate programs based on populations needs and strengths.   We also spend a good amount of time focused on the evaluation of these efforts either throughout the process or at the end.  As a result of this recent conversation, it is apparent that we could do a better job in providing students with more hand-on opportunities to actually do online education.

We make the assumption that this tech-savvy generation of students is able to maneuver online with ease because web-based content has been a consistent influence throughout their lives.  Many of our current students have had access to computers, smartphones, and the internet since childhood.  They are abreast of websites and applications that can solve almost any problem.  But the truth is that most of their online knowledge is limited to either information finding and/or social media usage.

Instruction on the delivery of online family life education is an appropriate area of focus that family science programs should provide.  One comprehensive resource to aid in this is Hughes, Bowefs, Mitchell, Curtiss, and Ebata’s (2012) article which outlines effective delivery, implementation, and evaluation of online content.  The author suggest strategies in:

  • Problem analysis – assessing the need to be addressed with the online program
  • Program content – providing materials that are theory-driven, research based, and culturally appropriate
  • Instructional design – matching the activities to the preferences of the population
  • Program implementation – suggestions for recruitment and retention of participants
  • Program evaluation – evaluate effectiveness and quality of program

Since the initial conversation in my graduate course, I have referred students to this publication.  I also plan to use it as a guide to providing more opportunities for students to create online content either in class or as part of a larger assignment.

For more information see: Hughes, R., Bowers, J. R., Mitchell, E. T., Curtiss, S., & Ebata, A. T. (2012).  Developing online family life prevention and education programs. Family Relations, 61, 711-727.





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