Indiana University Receives Federal Grant for Online Programs Aimed at Those Who Work With Older Adults
A three-year grant involving more than $850,000 has been awarded to the Indiana University Center on Aging and Aged to pursue an online, worldwide education program for professionals who work with older adults.
Barbara Hawkins, director of the center, and Lesa Lorenzen Huber, a research associate at the center, share project investigator duties for the grant from the Fund for the Improvement of Post Secondary Education with the U.S. Department of Education.
The funding includes $492,000 over three years from the federal government and some $363,000 in project costs provided through IU. The title of the program, GET LINKS, stands for Gerontology Education Through Linking Into Networked Knowledge Systems.
Hawkins said IU, in partnership with the University of Florida, will use the funds “to develop a distributed education program online to students and professionals involved in the service and care of the rapidly-growing older adult population.” She said it will involve such fields as psychology, public health, nursing, kinesiology, sociology and public policy and include faculty from IU’s School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation; School of Education; and College of Arts and Sciences.
Hawkins said the faculty for the program will include several IU and UF professors and other experts from throughout the world who are affiliated with the Center on Aging and Aged. Professionals who work with the elderly through residential care facilities, non-profit organizations, local government, health care and social services are expected to be the primary students.
“Gerontology, which is the study of aging, is becoming increasingly important,” explained Hawkins, “because the United States will have 68 million older adults by 2030, which is double the 34 million total today. The projected growth worldwide is even greater.”
Huber said student participants in the program can obtain a certificate or minor in gerontology, and professionals can earn continuing education credit for participation in the course work. “GET LINKS is a series of online educational course work that can be combined to achieve individual credentialing needs,” she said. “The programs are available to IU or UF students, as well as off-campus students or professionals working in settings that serve older adults.” Huber added that the course work will feature problem-based, interactive activities designed to support students in developing applied knowledge and therapeutic skills in gerontology.
Both Hawkins and Huber agree that the project will bring together national and international gerontology faculty from such disciplines as pharmacology, psychology, social gerontology and the health professions to develop curriculum for the online education units.
Hawkins said this program is different from other distance education because of what is learned and how it is learned. An integral part of the project design is the development of model learning communities to support student learning. The locations will include several Indiana and Florida sites, plus others in Ohio and New England.
A Web site is now in the development stage to further enhance the program.