ASU’s Southwest Interdisciplinary Research Center has created an interactive online training website to educate lawmakers and public health practitioners about substance abuse prevention.
The site, called “Communities in Context: Using Data to Empower Arizona Communities,” focuses on teaching users how to utilize the Community Data Project, a database for substance-related topics, ranging from specific alcohol problems in Arizona to substance abuse outcomes, according to its website.
Wendy Wolfersteig, director of Evaluation and Partner Contracts at the SIRC, said the site was created to help people properly use available substance-abuse training.
“We developed an all-day training program, but then we thought we should make that training available online,” Wolfersteig said.
The new site was made possible through funding from the Governor’s Office for Children, Youth and Families.
In-person training for using the Community Data Project had been in place, but Wolfersteig said they thought more people could be educated with the online option.
In-person training is still offered despite the new site. The SIRC contacted Learning Forever professional development to translate the in-person training to an online site.
Learning Forever is a resource for current and future educators offered through the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, where people can access the training.
“We collaborated with Learning Forever and had conversations about how we might work together to achieve this,” Wolfersteig said. “They helped us develop this training online, which we are now just starting to promote.”
Exploratory freshman Gabrielle Meszaros said she believed the extent to which Communities in Context educates could benefit site users greatly.
“I think this is definitely a very good thing,” she said. “If it goes into large detail about prevention, then it would most likely help.”
Computer science junior Amy Mazzola said she thought providing the substance abuse training online was a wise idea.
“Putting the training online makes it accessible to more people,” she said. “I think it probably gives health providers more opportunities. I think it’s important.”
Wolfersteig said Communities in Context tries to help practitioners use statistical data and reports which may, in the future, teach them how to prevent substance abuse. The site was designed especially to be user-friendly.
“We make it very user friendly and it’s done in modules,” she said. “You can do it at your own pace, and it’s interactive with activities included. I believe we have eight or nine moderators. We had real live people who have been helping to do the training and who have all moderated with us before.”
Communities in Context provides a comprehensive overview of the Community Data Project, and training may translate to four hours of continuing education credit.
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