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"Online Education: the Needs, Interests, and Capacities of Wisconsin Public Health Professionals" icon

Online Education: the Needs, Interests, and Capacities of Wisconsin Public Health Professionals

The need to develop online educational opportunities for public health professionals has been clearly documented nationwide and specifically in Wisconsin. Preliminary evaluations have identified the advantages and effectiveness of online learning for public health education. However, few studies have examined public health professionals' use of, confidence with, and interest in online technologies, formats, and topics. These data are pertinent to the development of online education modules that reflect professionals' learning needs. Consequently, a descriptive prospective study was implemented to assess the technology and content needs, capacities, and preferences of Wisconsin public health professionals. The results clarified what appropriate technologies, formats, and topics should be included in online learning environments for public health professionals and are aligned with the components of the Theory of Innovations. Respondents reported utilizing and confidence with basic computer technologies and programs, but preferred short, self-paced, asynchronous, non-degree continuing education programs. Respondents were not as confident using online chat rooms, forums, discussion boards, or video-technologies, and were less interested in semester-long courses and full degree programs. Results indicated that public health online education programs should include a technology training course for students. Future research should survey additional public health professionals and evaluate public health online programs.

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