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OHPRS Health Promotion 101

I Background

The Ontario Health Promotion Resource System (OHPRS) is a network of organizations or programs that support health promoters across Ontario.

People come to work in health promotion through many varied paths. Recognizing that health promotion is a very broad field, the OHPRS uses a broad definition of health promoter; health promoters include those who work to promote health as defined in the Ottawa Charter (see OHPE 403.2), regardless of professional designation. It includes people, organizations, and groups from various sectors. In our definition, health promotion work may be paid or voluntary.

OHPRS surveys and needs assessments have repeatedly told us that regardless of their job descriptions, most health promoters report a need for additional professional development. There seemed to be a particular need for materials to help articulate and clarify health promotion concepts. To help fill this apparent gap, the OHPRS developed the Health Promotion 101 online course as a collaborative effort between our 22 member organizations. HP101 will help people familiarize themselves with essential health promotion concepts, theories, and their application, as well as the resources available from OHPRS members. In so doing, HP101 will contribute to the OHPRS' efforts to raise the profile of health promotion in Ontario.

We chose to create the course in a stand-alone online format to help maximize its availability. Our survey data support our intuition that many people find it difficult to travel to scheduled face-to-face events or simply prefer alternative methods of learning. We imagine the audience for HP101 to be practicing health promoters (whether they identify themselves as such or not), primarily in Ontario. They may be new to the field--just beginning their career or moving into health promotion from another career--or they may be more experienced health promoters seeking a refresher.

By making HP101 materials freely available online under a Creative Commons license (see OHPE 403.2), we hope people will find innovative ways to use them to support their health promotion work.

II Development Process

We began in May 2003 with a committee of volunteers from OHPRS member organizations and staff from the OHPRS Secretariat. This group drew up an outline of content and scope for the course. The committee then became an advisory group as a team of writers and instructional designers worked with OHPRS staff to prototype the course and pilot it with about 20 participants in March 2004.

We did the pilot test in a very low-tech way. We used plain PowerPoint files and asked our extremely patient and helpful pilot participants to pretend each PowerPoint slide was a web page. The pilot participants read and critiqued the content, meeting twice via teleconference to offer feedback. This process was invaluable as it let us refine the content and structure of the course before we committed potentially large sums to developing the final online version.

After the content was finalized, the advisory committee hired a web designer to work up a design over the summer of 2004. OHPRS staff added the content in the fall and the site went live in December 2004.

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III Language

As the OHPRS is committed to French Language services, bilingual development was planned from the outset. However, to finish content development within one fiscal year, we developed and piloted HP101 in English only. The OHPRS French Language Services committee then oversaw a French-language adaptation of the content. The French version of HP101 is currently in final review.

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IV Instructional Approach

HP101 offers training and capacity building in health promotion using a distributed learning self-study approach. Learning is self-directed. While the course modules do follow a linear progression, they are designed so that each module can be worked through independently of the other modules. Learners can choose to spend their time on the aspects of the course on which they prefer to focus.

Self-study assignments focus on case study methodology and have a practical, work-related focus. Learners are expected to try out, model, consider and implement the ideas, concepts, and methods learned in the modules.

Experienced facilitators can deliver or build on the learning modules to in a face-to-face setting. As well, the modules are designed so that the course could be easily transformed into a for-credit course, where learner-to-learner and learner-to-instructor interaction can take place.

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V Content

The course is divided into sections. The main page introduces the course. As well as a link to the first page of the course, on the main page we offer tips for learners (who may not have attempted self-directed online learning before) and a course overview describing the course's purpose, structure, navigation and other details.

The course material begins with Part A: Foundations of Health Promotion. Part A introduces the field of health promotion and is composed of four modules focusing on these main themes:

* Module 1 provides an overview of key health promotion definitions and concepts.

* Module 2 examines historical milestones contributing to the development of health promotion practice as we know it today.

* Module 3 examines some of the models underpinning health promotion.

* Module 4 considers some of the key theories underpinning health promotion at the individual, community, organizational and public policy levels.

After the Foundations material, the course moves into Part B: Health Promotion in Action. Part B is the core content of the course and is composed of three modules:

* Module 5 examines the key strategies used by health promoters to take action on the health issues affecting individuals and communities.

* Module 6 reviews the unique features of health promotion.

* Module 7 examines the values underpinning health promotion.

The course ends with Part C: Building your Health Promotion Practice. Part C has two modules. * Module 8 gives learners the opportunity to identify implications for their health promotion practice, particularly in their professional capacity and their volunteer contributions.

* Finally, Module 9 is an opportunity for learners to explore a step-by-step process to identify future health promotion learning needs.

In the course content pages, there's also a Toolkit menu available. The Toolkist contains a glossary as well as collated sets of the resources, Case Studies, and Reflective Exercises from each of the modules. For those who prefer to print the materials instead of reading them online, the Toolkit provides links to PDF versions of each module and of the course in its entirety.

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VI Now What?

OHPRS made the decision to use a Creative Commons copyright allowing free use and the creation of derivative works so long as they give proper attribution to OHPRS, do not use it for commercial purposes, and license any derivative works similarly. We hope that these terms encourage people to use, share, and repurpose the HP101 information in innovative ways.

OHPRS members and others may use the HP101 materials as a base for facilitated, guided sessions. Sessions could be held face-to-face, by teleconference, by web conference, or by some combination of modes. Facilitators can thus adapt the material to meet the needs, interests, and availability of their learners, adding appropriate context and focus. The Health Communication Unit is the first to do this, beginning in March 2005.

We would love to hear about how people are using HP101 and any suggestions you may have for additional courses OHPRS could develop as funding permits. E-mail with your thoughts.