E-Learning in MCH: Bringing Education and Information to the Workforce
August 2017

Cori Floyd
Program Analyst, CYSHCN, AMCHP

John Richards
Co-Director, National Center for Education in Maternal and Child Health; Lead, Health Information Group, Georgetown University

Kafi Dixon
Telehealth Program Coordinator, Division of Child and Community Health, University of Iowa

Alicia L. Curran
Project Coordinator, Autism Speaks-Autism Treatment Network; CDC Act Early Ambassador for Missouri; Family Faculty – Missouri LEND, Thompson Center for Autism & Neurodevelopmental Disorders, University of Missouri

E-learning (learning conducted via electronic media) has become commonplace as the internet has evolved. This has not only increased access to information; it has also provided more freedom in how and where learning takes place. The public health field, and specifically the maternal and child health (MCH) field, has adopted a variety of e-learning mechanisms (such as webinars) to educate, engage, and empower its workforce.

MCH organizations have developed online learning modules and courses to provide structured learning that is synchronous (learning conducted in real-time) or asynchronous (learning that is self-paced by its user). They have even used social media to educate professionals and share information. For example, national public health associations like the American Public Health Association and AMCHP have used Twitter chats to hold engaging discussions and resource-sharing that professionals can learn from. See the snapshots below of national and state e-learning initiatives that aim to educate and inform the MCH workforce.

Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Navigator

The MCH Navigator gives state and local MCH professionals free, online, competency-based learning opportunities and training resources to effectively address emerging health issues and improve the health of children and families. Responding to the need identified by the Health Resources and Services Administration to enhance management, leadership, and fiscal skills, the MCH Navigator provides four types of learning – all highly curated to ensure that users are connected to the most current and relevant resources:

  • Self-directed learning that utilizes a course catalog of 500 highly-vetted trainings, quick-find tools for busy professionals, and an interactive topical index;
  • semi-structured learning that provides customized learning bundles on high-impact topics and for a range of job positions and responsibilities;
  • self-reflective learning that uses an online self-assessment tool to develop a personalized learning plan that matches users to the trainings they need;
  • and fast, interactive learning that provides weekly “microlearning” emails and resources so users can advance their knowledge and skills in five-minute increments. The Navigator also works with the National MCH Workforce Development Center to provide resources on health transformation.

Topics that these online learnings cover include access to care, evaluation, health equity, CYSHCN and family-centered partnerships, evidence-based resources, MCH-Medicaid coordination, needs assessment, and quality improvement. The MCH Navigator also provides mechanisms to stay updated on resources and attend live trainings.  If you would like to get connected, sign up for the Public Health Pronto microlearning program to learn throughout the year or for the quarterly MCH Alert to learn what’s new; check out MCH Navigator’s training calendar or Twitter page to see what live trainings are coming soon; or download brochures on the Navigator’s many programs to share with staff.

Iowa’s Title V E-learning Initiatives

As Iowa’s Title V program for children and youth with special health care needs, the University of Iowa Division of Child and Community Health (DCCH) provides many e-learning initiatives aimed at offering workforce development and education to support primary care providers (PCPs). These include a provider education webinar series and a “quick-bite” video series.

The webinar series is offered in cooperation with the Iowa Department of Public Health 1st Five Program and the Child & Youth Psychiatric Consult Project of Iowa (CYC-I). The series provides information on topics related to healthy mental development for children and youth, including: developmental screening and surveillance, adverse childhood experiences, trauma-informed care, therapies for children, nutrition, autism basics, and cultural competency. Continuing medical education and continuing education unit credits are provided for real-time participation to add greater value for PCPs who attend. The trainings are also delivered through online video conferencing technology to increase access. For more information go to https://chsciowa.org/programs/cyc-i/cyc-i-educational-webinars.

The “quick bite” video series is composed of five- to seven-minute educational, self-paced videos developed by the DCCH in collaboration with the Iowa Department of Public Health 1st Five Program, the Iowa Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Midwestern Public Health Training Center. The series targets PCPs and offers information relative to the care and needs of children from birth to age five. Recently released videos focus on topics such as implementing developmental screening into a busy primary care setting. To increase access, these videos are hosted on YouTube: https://idph.iowa.gov/1stfive/links.

Missouri’s Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Developmental Milestones Program Video Series

This video series was created to support the Developmental Milestones Program’s statewide expansion effort. The pilot project was launched in St. Louis, where colorful graphics about developmental milestones were displayed throughout WIC clinics. Staff members also used checklists, supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “Learn the Signs. Act Early.”  campaign, to educate families about their child’s development and guide them through next steps if a developmental concern is identified.

The Developmental Milestones Program collaborated with the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Media Production Studio to create videos that inspire more WIC clinics to adopt the program. These self-paced introductory and training videos focus on:

  • Promoting the importance of the WIC Developmental Milestones Program,
  • highlighting its success,
  • answering questions local agencies may have about enrolling in the program, and
  • demonstrating how it is implemented.

Access the videos at the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services WIC Developmental Milestones Program website.

AMCHP has also utilized e-learning to educate and empower the MCH workforce through webinars and Twitter chats, and has expanded to the creation of e-learning modules. AMCHP’s child and adolescent health team recently released an e-learning module called Communicating the Value of Developmental Screening. This interactive, self-paced module aims to build capacity of Title V leaders and other health professionals to articulate the value of developmental screening with various stakeholders by helping its users:

  • Identify the purpose of developmental screening,
  • understand the impact screening has on families and children,
  • recognize the roadblocks and challenges of the screening process,
  • understand the role of Title V in developmental screening and communicate its value, and
  • identify additional resources to assist in communicating its value.

Access the module here. AMCHP plans to continue expanding its e-learning portfolio with another learning module around life course indicators, so stay tuned!

With these valuable e-learning mechanisms, the MCH workforce is learning, growing, and innovating to ultimately improve the lives of women, adolescents, infants, and children. Do you have an e-learning initiative that you’d like to share? Contact Cori Floyd at cfloyd@amchp.org.