Distance Education And Learning: An Innovative Approach to Extending Workforce Training Capacity

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Abstract

The mission of the Region IV (R-IV) Public Health Training Center (PHTC), headquartered at the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, is to develop and implement programming to train public health professionals in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Region IV. The emphasis on public health accreditation, as well as the reality of high personnel turnover and a workforce with little formal training, point to the need for PHTCs that provide workforce training. PHTCs use distance-based education to reach those in need of training by minimizing or eliminating cost and travel barriers. However, many experienced public health trainers who are able to provide effective and engaging trainings in person lack the knowledge and skills necessary to adapt existing curricula to a distance format. Distance Education And Learning (DEAL) is an online course designed by the R-IV PHTC to increase the capacity of public health trainers to teach in the distance learning environment. The course includes four 3-hour synchronous online sessions with additional asynchronous presession and intersession activity requirements. This article describes the development and implementation of the DEAL course, including how it is used by the R-IV PHTC to increase the number of public health trainers with the skills needed to develop and implement distance-based training, which thereby builds the training capacity within the region and addresses issues of sustainability.

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