In February 2004, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and Outside The Classroom introduced AlcoholEdu for High School, the first online prevention program designed to combat underage drinking by giving students the information they need to make safer and healthier decisions about alcohol. AlcoholEdu for High School is a Web-based prevention program that engages high school students with science-based alcohol education. Developed by leading prevention experts, it provides an interactive experience that changes perceptions, motivates behavior change and helps high school students contend with a culture that too often encourages, rather than discourages, underage drinking.
MADD joined forces with Outside The Classroom, a Boston-area company, to develop AlcoholEdu for High School following the success of the three-year-old AlcoholEdu for College program, which this year is being taken by more than 100,000 college students on more than 300 campuses nationwide. On college campuses where all first-year students were required to take AlcoholEdu, the proportion of students abstaining from alcohol increased, average consumption of alcohol per student decreased and the proportion of students engaging in dangerous "binge" drinking decreased.
AlcoholEdu for High School can be taken on any standard Internet-connected computer and combines streaming audio with interactive exercises, making it easy for teachers to administer and engaging for students to take. It is divided into three 30-minute sections (with a brief conclusion section), making it ideal for use either in the classroom or for homework as part of the school's alcohol and other drug prevention curriculum. The interactive exercises bring to life the scientific content, and case-history role-playing helps students understand the social context of alcohol and the decisions they have to make when they find themselves in various situations.
The AlcoholEdu for High School is an interesting Web site from a factual standpoint. It was visually eye pleasing and contained some interesting facts. However, it seemed very lengthy. A typical student will take some 90 minutes to complete the lessons. Each part seemed to take forever and gave the user temptation to skip the conclusions. I did like the sounds which accompanied the slides and facts. This kept me listening, and not just viewing. The three chapters in the course including:
Chapter 1: Alcohol the Drug This chapter focuses on alcohol's effects on the body and on the impairments produced by various levels of a person's blood alcohol concentration, or BAC. One exercise is included: The Impact of Alcohol.
Chapter 2: Effects on Mind and Body This chapter discusses how alcohol affects the developing teenage brain. It also addresses blackouts, hangovers, and the deadly combination of drinking and driving. One exercise is included: Alcohol and the Brain.
Chapter 3: Making Healthy Decisions This chapter talks about the factors that influence decisions about drinking—like family and friends—as well as strategies a person can use when facing decisions where drinking is involved. One exercise is including: Knowing your Limits.
In addition to the Web site being aesthetically pleasing, it was very easy to navigate through the different sections. I also like the fact that if I had to stop at a certain point, I could resume where I had left off at a later time. This is definitely an ideal setup for high school students since, sometimes, their attention spans may be limited and since the time allotted to complete and review the information would not allow for a ninety minute session at one time if it was to be done during class time. Although AlcoholEdu for High School offers general information and facts regarding alcohol, I think that there should be more hypothetical situations, role playing, and decision making activities so high school students could provide their responses.
Dale O. Ritzel Professor, Health Education Director, Safety Center Southern Illinois University