This is a comprehensive learning resource for the major categories of diabetes: type I, type II, and gestational diabetes. The American Diabetes Association web provides accurate, up-to-date information for several categories of users including individuals of all ages diagnosed with diabetes, parents, and healthcare professionals.
Key features include a information about nutrition, weight control, and exercise; a basic diabetes dictionary; online message boards organized according to specific topics; webcast streaming videos with transcripts and short quizzes; flash videos with interactive portions for learning about meal planning and related topics as well as fun & games targeted toward youth; legal information; community resources; a multitude of links from each page to foster understanding of the disease; and an online store for purchasing educational and self-help materials.
Much of the site's information is presented in Spanish at http://www.diabetes.org/espanol/
Because the content presented on this site is very broad, learning goals are specific to individual aspects of diabetes rather than for the material as a whole. The assumed goals are to provide reliable information to health care professionals, individuals with diabetes and others interested in the topic
Target Student Population:
Areas of this site are designed for different ages and characteristics of learners (e.g. young people, adults with various educational backgrounds, professionals), making it suitable for a variety of student populations.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
Some areas of this website require no prerequisite knowledge or skills, while others require varying degrees of knowledge and skills. For example, the fun & games designed for youth require a degree of hand-eye coordination similar to what is needed to play computer-based games. Even though the site is well-organized, familiarity with website navigation is important because of the many layers of information. Instructions for using portions of this site for learning exercises should take into consideration specific abilities and/or prior knowledge needed for maximum benefit.
Type of Material:
Although this learning resource is primarily a reference site, it offers a collection of interactive tutorials through webcasts and flash movies and provides a platform for asynchronous communication.
This learning resource can be the gateway for multiple lessons related to diabetes. For example:
Students can gain insight about problems and questions "real people" have by being assigned to read postings from specific topics in the message boards.
Webcasts can be integrated into classroom presentations.
Webcasts, food label information, and games can be assigned to reinforce lesson content.
Assignments to build lessons for patients/families/peers using information in or linked from this website will expose students to broad spectrum of information the American Diabetes Association makes available to the public.
The learner will need a computer with Internet access, a web browser. Audio capabilities and Adobe Flash Player are required to view the videos.
Evaluation and Observation
The American Dietetic Association is the authoritative source of information related to diabetes. Information is accurate and up-to-date and is designed to meet the learning needs of individuals and groups of different ages, educational levels, and consumer/professional categories. The learning resource has research-based information, evidence-based interventions, and a wealth of information for all levels of learners.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
There is a great deal of information that is well organized and flagged so that one can easily get to the area of interest to them. Information available in Spanish improves the potential effectiveness.
It may be difficult to those learners with lower levels of computer skills to fully navigate to access all relevant content.
Because this site is packed with information, assignments should be fairly
specific so that the learner does not get lost or distracted. Some of the links appear to take the user to information pages but instead go to products that must be purchased.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
The site's organization is complex but fairly intuitive and lends itself to being a one-stop resource for diabetes information. Tabs and links are clearly identified.
It is easy to become lost in the web and to overlook some of the excellent information presented, making the judgment for ease dependent on adequate instructions for use.
Other Issues and Comments:
When reviewing this site as a learning tool, care should be taken to set aside a couple of hours to thoroughly explore all the American Diabetic Association is providing for consumer and professional education.