The Alzheimer's Association website provides general information on Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and other types of dementia for persons affected and their families, caregivers, care professionals, researchers, the media and the public in general. In addition to education on the different types of dementia (diagnosis, management, and treatment options), the site provides extensive information on and links to services for those affected, current clinical studies and advances in research on dementia, and policy advocacy efforts.
Some specific features most applicable to potential students include a series of interactive tutorials on various aspects of dementia, collections of educational materials and position statements related to dementia, and a virtual library with access to over 5,000 books, journal, audios, videos and CD-ROMs.
The implied learning goals are that the learner/user will be able to:
• Discuss Alzheimer’s Disease including the diagnosis, management, and treatment options
• Compare Alzheimer’s Disease with other types of dementia
• Identify/locate resources available to assist persons living with AD and their families
• Describe current clinical studies and advances in research on dementia
• Determine current advocacy and policy efforts by the Alzheimer’s Association
Target Student Population:
The overall website target populations include people living with dementia and their families; caregivers, health care professionals and researchers; Alzheimer advocates; the media; and the general public. The most appropriate student target populations include beginner through advanced social work and other allied health students seeking careers in which they will work with older patients and their families.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
There are no prerequisites for using this learning resource.
Type of Material:
This learning resources is classified both as a reference and a collection.
The recommended uses include as a reference material for patient and family education, self-study material, homework assignments, and reports.
The technical requirements include a computer with Internet access, a web browser, and Acrobat Adobe reader (to access some of the reference resources and articles).
Evaluation and Observation
The information on the website is comprehensive and very up-to-date. Learners will be able to find information about or links to the latest information and research on Alzheimer’s Disease and other types of dementia. The website as a whole can be used as reference material for a course and there are many components of the website, including a series of interactive tutorials, which can be used to create specific course assignments. According to the website, website content is reviewed by subject matter experts
There are no concerns in regards to quality.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
• The website is a comprehensive resource for basic information on Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.
• There are parts of the website that can easily be assigned for self-study including a collection of educational materials and a series of high-quality videos/interactive tutorials on various aspects of AD.
• The website appeals to multiple learning styles and provides a good mix of text, images, videos, external links and other resources.
• It is a must-know resource for any student entering a field in which they may come into contact with AD patients and their families such as social work, gerontology, occupational therapy, and geriatric medicine to name just a few.
Because it is such a comprehensive website targeting multiple audiences, it is not intended as a primary teaching tool to be used in a student course. Much of the information is not directly geared to students and this takes away somewhat from its potential effectiveness as a student teaching tool.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
• The website is laid out in a user-friendly manner. The color and font selections enhance the readability/visibility and are appropriate given that many older adults will access this website
• There is an option on most pages to increase the font size.
• On the main page, a link is provided for Spanish and Chinese speaking audiences. A brief interactive tutorial describing how the brain is affected by AD is available in 15 languages.
• At times multiple options are available to search for information. For example, there is an interactive map of the United States people can click on to find local chapters in their area, but they can also enter their zip code and search in this manner.
• Throughout the website, links to external sources are provided in case a person is interested in more detailed information on a topic.
• All the links tested worked.
Although the overall usability of the website is high, the sheer size of this site impacts a learner’s ability to find specific components.
Other Issues and Comments:
For use in a class, students will need direction on what information to focus towards or a directed web quest.