Sunday, January 26, 2014


Here it is, 2014, and I just took my first online continuing education course. It's for my Emergency Social Services work. I took "Introduction to Disaster Psychosocial Services," an online learning course developed by the North Carolina Disaster Response Network.

I have talked to friends and family members who have done online courses, so I understand that the course I took was a real lightweight as far as online learning goes. It was made up of eight 30-minute modules. There were no written assignments or discussion board exercises. The only coursework was a module pre-test (6 questions, multiple choice) and a test to take after completing the module (same 6 questions, multiple choice). Marking was automated and immediate, and I ended up with a perfect score on every module. YAY me!

I appreciated the way the course was put together. It was logically organized and professionally presented with good slides and narration. Each module was narrated by a different professional in the field of disaster psychosocial services. Every one of the instructors was knowledgeable and an engaging presenter, even online. Concepts and principles were brought to life with examples from real disaster situations in which the presenters had participated as relief and support workers in the area of psychosocial services. I was impressed with the insights they shared about how natural and man-made disasters can have profound and varied effects on the people who experience them. I was especially interested in the discussions about resiliency - that's how well a person takes unexpected events in stride and finds a way to restored thinking and functioning after a catastrophe. I'm grateful to know the many ways that psychologists, psychiatrists and social workers contribute to the emotional and mental health care of disaster survivors and relief workers. I learned a lot, and I am inspired to learn more.

All that said, I have also learned that e-learning is not my preferred mode of learning. I really like interaction, and taking a course online is definitely not interactive. As interesting as the presentations were, I caught myself peeking at the little progress bar to find out how many minutes remained before the end of the current module. I also took a couple of brain breaks while listening and watching the slides. Luckily, I could back the presentation up to the place where I lost track, and re-listen with better attention. It helped to take notes as the presentation went along. That kept me engaged and responsible for noticing what I thought was most important about what was being said.

I don't think I would have had the opportunity to take this course if it wasn't for an online option. I am sure I will do more online learning. I'll also make sure to get out to the real-life courses too, with in-person presenters and other students in the class. Sharing experiences and networking with other people involved in emergency services is really interesting. Either online or in-person, I'm glad for the opportunity to continue learning more.

question: have you taken an online course? what was it, and how did you like it?

mompoet - I like to see the whites of their eye (and have them see mine)

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