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ASU partners with Governor's Office on online training for substance abuse prevention

website graphic for Communities in Context
October 15, 2013

The Arizona State University Southwest Interdisciplinary Research Center, through grant funding from the Governor's Office for Children, Youth and Families, is offering a new, fully online and interactive training solution for public health practitioners, policymakers and prevention specialists.

The training, Communities in Context: Using Data to Empower Arizona Communities, is a unique avenue of support for Arizona's network of service providers and community coalitions that gives them the knowledge and skills to harness the power of the Community Data Project, the most complete database of substance abuse prevention data in the state.

Communities in Context is a self-paced online learning module that can be accessed at any time and completed for four hours of professional development or continuing education credit. Participants will learn the basics of the Community Data Project, how to focus and strengthen their substance abuse prevention efforts through the use of data and how to turn data into presentation-ready visuals using the built-in graphing tools. Using the vast trove of data housed within the project, practitioners can access and compare statewide statistics to focus time and funding. Learning to use the Community Data Project is now easy with Communities in Context. Through funding from the Governor's Office for Children, Youth and Families, and the support of the Governor’s Substance Abuse Epidemiology Work Group and Southwest Interdisciplinary Research Center, the training is offered free of charge.

The Community Data Project is the most complete database of criminal and juvenile justice system and related data in Arizona, according to Phillip Stevenson, director of the Statistical Analysis Center of the Arizona Criminal Justice Commission.

As a leader in the creation of the Community Data Project (CDP), Stevenson says that “the CDP was designed to make it easier to access justice system data that is relevant to a variety of justice system issues. Statistics and this training will prepare those in the field to access and apply it effectively in their project and policy planning.” He goes on to say that the data supplied by the project can “... collectively ... guide resource dollars for prevention and intervention efforts, and in doing so, maximize the return on investment for the state’s efforts at addressing substance abuse issues in Arizona.”

To approach the essential issue of training, the Southwest Interdisciplinary Research Center created an extensive in-person model that could be delivered across the state. Sensing the need to broaden access to this training, Wendy Wolfersteig, director of Evaluation and Partner Contracts at the center, approached Learning Forever Professional Development to create an interactive online version of the in-person training. Learning Forever is a continuing education and professional learning unit of the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College with experience in managing instructional design projects and access to a cadre of skilled and experienced online instructional designers.

Together, the center and Learning Forever brought the Communities in Context training to life on the new education resource site the Professional Learning Library, another service of the Teachers College. The training is already reaching new audiences through the library and its widely accessible system.

Wolfersteig is pleased to offer both in-person to online availability, saying, “ASU Southwest Interdisciplinary Research Center and the Professional Learning Library appreciate the opportunity to work with our partner state agencies on developing and distributing the Community Data Project curriculum to benefit those who seek health, substance abuse and crime data for local and state decision-making. We see this training as a way to encourage people to use data in their everyday efforts, as a part of making life better for all of us in Arizona.”

For more information or to register for the Communities in Context online learning module, click here.