Academic journal article American Journal of Health Education

The Future of Technology in Health Education: Challenging the Traditional Delivery Dogma

Academic journal article American Journal of Health Education

The Future of Technology in Health Education: Challenging the Traditional Delivery Dogma

Article excerpt

I am fully cognizant of my strengths and weaknesses as both a person and professional. To consider my work comparable to the likes of the previous scholars is a mistake. I don't have the research skills of an Elbert Glover. I don't have the statistical understanding of person like Mohammad Torabi. I don't have the grant procurement history like Randy Black. I don't have speaking skills like those of Buzz Pruitt and Skip Valois. I don't have the writing skills of Robert McDermott. I don't have the technology skills of a person like Robert Gold. I don't have the skills to take research into practice like a Jim Eddy. So why was I selected?

I've been blessed with an opportunity to contribute to the profession via a technology that 20 years ago did not exist. The HEDIR catapulted me into the national limelight. As most know, I created the HEDIR in 1992-the profession's first email directory and listserv. The profession has found the HEDIR to be an exceptional tool to communicate thoughts, solicit ideas, and to share information. Currently the HEDIR has over 1,700 participants and has sent over 22,000 messages in its history. There are many other lists that people subscribe to, or use technologies that are way more interactive, expansive and creative. Yet, the HEDIR continues to survive.

I think the HEDIR did (and still does) three things: (1) It allows an individual to not feel so isolated. Jim Girvan told me that at one time he was the only health educator in Idaho--the HEDIR gave him an opportunity to communicate with others and he felt less alienated; (2) The HEDIR allows everyone an equal voice. Where national conferences tend to be overrepresented by college faculty, the HEDIR allows the teacher and the public health educator an opportunity to be part of the profession and to have an equal voice; (3) the HEDIR introduced people to the use of technology when technology was in its infancy. For many health educators (especially of my generation) we were thrown into technology. I believe the HEDIR helped with that transition. (1)


Figure 1 shows a graph that was created by Rogers. (2) If we review this in terms of the profession of health education and technology, we have those early innovators like Robert Gold, early adopters like Alyson Taub, early majority like myself, late majority like Elbert Glover and the laggards ... well, we all know who those people are, right?

I can't speak for everybody in my age group, but I'm constantly amazed at the technological advances that are being made. For those of us over 50, we remember sitting in front of a TV in the summer of 1969 watching Neil Armstrong take the first step on the moon. It was an incredible experience. Yet, today, my smart phone has more computer capability than that Apollo system had. (3,4)

Morris Massey, the University of Colorado human relations expert, stated early in his career that people tend to NOT value things if they've always had them. (5) For my generation, we think it's normal to have electricity--because we've always had it. What does the younger generation think is normal? We now see young children with their own cell phones. They always had access to them, and they think that this is normal. Mention to them the concept of a party-line telephone system and they'll look at you like you're a space alien.

Students entering college today have always had access to email, the Web, cell phones, text messaging, and all other sorts of gizmos. To them, these are normal. Plus, it's normal for them to see technology constantly changing. Four-out-of-five teens now own a cell phone. (6) Cell phones are the second leading item for a teen's social status (clothing is still ranked number one) and 42% of teens indicate they could text blind-folded. (7) In a broader sense, the U.S. saw 14.3 billion searches (via Google and Yahoo) in April 2009. (8) It was estimated that in August 2008, over 210 billion emails were sent daily, (9) and an estimated 2. …

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