How a Training Website, built with SoftChalk, Helps Hurricane Victims

Cindy Smith, Director of Instructional Design at the University of Texas at Tyler, is one of the presenters for next week's Innovators session. Smith will be presenting with Instructional Designer, Jana Brown, and Web Technician, Gina Parkins, about the Medical Needs Shelter Training that UT-Tyler created with SoftChalk. Read her interview below and sign up for the Innovators session to learn more about this unique project.

1. What inspired UT-Tyler to begin the Just in Time Medical Special Needs Shelter (MSNS) Training and when did the project start?

After providing healthcare in disaster shelters following the hurricanes of 2005, we surveyed nurses, nursing students, and volunteers regarding the experience of working in a disaster medical shelter. The need for accessible just-in-time orientation and training was repeatedly identified as one of the greatest needs.

2. Which natural disaster efforts has the Medical Special Needs Shelter been involved in?

UT-Tyler operated disaster shelters following Katrina in 2005 and during Gustav in 2008. Many faculty and students in the College of Nursing also worked with local agencies to provide healthcare in medical shelters during hurricane Rita in 2005 and hurricane Ike in 2008.

3. Are the UT-Tyler College of Nursing and Health Sciences students required to take the training or is it voluntary?

Nursing students are required to complete the course in conjunction with the Community Health Nursing Course. Disaster nursing is also a part of the course content.

4. Is the MSNS training module available outside of UT-Tyler?

Yes, we have publicized and shared the link to the training website in newsletters, nursing journals, and conferences. (

5. Is it available as an Open Education Resource?

The course is available to the public; any school, business, or agency is welcome to make the link available on their website.

6. Why did you choose to use SoftChalk for the training modules and what features have you found most beneficial?

SoftChalk provided a framework that was easy for users of any level to navigate. Various learning modalities were incorporated into the training (print, audio, and video); appealing to a wide range of learning styles and needs.

7. Earlier this year UT-Tyler was named a 2012 Laureate by IDG’s Computerworld Honors Program for the training module website. What do you think were the key components that put this website and training module above all the others submitted?

The training website was envisioned and developed to allow ease of user access, appeal to the various types of volunteers, and be available at no cost and without any obligation to the user. It was prepared from our experience but with attempts to make the content applicable to other similar disaster medical shelters. The website is appealing, easy to navigate, and the content is comprehensive without being burdensome.

To learn more about the Just in Time MSNS Training, view the recorded Innovators in Online Learning Session.

You can also learn about The University of Texas at Tyler and the comprehensive degree programs and career guides on their website.



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