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Monday, September 04, 2006

Ramblings

To begin, I am pursuing a Ph.D in Health Behavior at the University of Florida minoring in Educational Technology.
So...the big question that is always asked: "What exactly IS health behavior?"
Health behavior draws from the fields of cognitive and organization psychology, marketing and communications, and education to understand the diverse behavioral factors affecting health. It is recognized the leading causes of death and disease have behavioral components. For example cancer and heart disease are impacted by diet, stress, excercise, personality, and other factors related to behavior. As medical costs rise, interest in preventing illness continues to grow. The field is divided into several specializations: my primary interest is in health education... specifically, Public Health and School Health education.
And...the next question: "What are you doing studying educational technology?"
Well, I have this idea that the application and dissemination of health related information will be (is being) radically transformed by the Internet and other emerging technologies. Technology opens the door for patients to take greater responsibility for their own health by having immediate access to information via the Internet, rural residents can be monitored in the home via online health care, prescriptive health education services are being offered in some hospitals where evidence indicates computerized learning provides increased compliance and understanding of drug regimes and procedures, disabled and previously underserved populations can be reached with the assistance of adaptive technologies, distance communications, and educational technology designed to accomodate different learning needs...and the potential is still largely unrecognized. I also teach at a local community college... including one on-line course.
Those of you who are experienced teachers will appreciate my status as a "newbie" to teaching. I don't have an educational background but rather worked in the field of substance abuse counseling and corrections before returning to college. I taught adult education part-time for about two years while counseling so there is some precedent for me to be "let loose" in front of a classroom. Fall semester 1998 I replaced a teacher who moved on to "bigger and better things" for three courses of freshman Wellness at Central Florida Community College. This term I teach four courses of the same subject...one of which is online....hence, my EXTREME interest in this course! I recognize I have a lot to learn. We get so busy having fun that I forget to take role, copyright is not my friend but I am trying, other instructors have voiced suspicion over the scarcity of multiple choice exams and the abundance of group projects. Meanwhile, I have learned first hand what 120 short reports really mean in grading time (whoaa!), and frankly the list could go on. The online saga is far from over...but it is an adventure (a very time intensive adventure!). Overall, the students and me are having a good time...most of the time....I think.....
Curious where all this is leading? Join the club! Actually, I do have an area of interest...but it is not yet defined in the Occupational Handbook. Then again, many of today's best jobs are not!
Exploring the impact, application, and relationship of emerging technologies on health behavior at an individual and organizational level...sound like a lot of jargon? Read on....
Not only is technology impacting the ability of idividuals to access health related information and services, but the nature of the field of health behavior itself is impacted by technology. This comes as no surprise for those of you in technology, but it truly does surprise many folks in health. Here are some of the topics I am currently exploring (by the way, I loooove reference material, resources, etcetera): Technological competencies for school health educators and professional development programs.The use of prescriptive health education laboratories for patient care and pharmacy settings.The growing link between technological literacy and health literacy.The use of educational technology to communicate health related information and services to high risk and underserved populations including elderly and disabled, prison, low literacy, etcetera.Evaluation of the process and impact of health education in a virtual dimension.The use of distance education for employee wellness, professional development, and lifelong learning as applied to health education.Remember, I Love Links!!! Yes, all good things must come to an end. Frankly, I hope this Ph.D comes to an end sooner rather than later (with degree in hand of course)...those loans are looking scarey. And although I greatly appreciate my graduate assistantship which covers tuition and gas to Gainesville, I hope to find employment someday. An elusive entry level tenure track position would be welcomed after the "prestige" of an adjunct position, but I am keeping my options open...much to the dismay of my chair and the delight of my spouse. Other possibilities: state or federal health communications specialist, consulting, health marketing, or one of those new job descriptions created every day.

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