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Debra Sellers to present on Traumatic Brain Injury project at Teaching, Learning, and Technology Showcase March 13

K-State’s free Teaching, Learning, and Technology Showcase is 10 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 13, in the K-State Student Union Ballroom. All faculty, staff, and administrators are welcome to attend. Pre-register at ksushowcase.wordpress.com/registration

This is a Q&A with Debra Sellers, associate professor and extension specialist, School of Family Studies and Human Services.

Dr. Deb Sellers

What is “traumatic brain injury”?

The Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA) defines TBI as “an alteration in brain function, or other evidence of brain pathology, caused by an external force.” A way to think about this is in terms of something away from the body or not part of the body that hurts the brain. There are two key types: one is a bump, blow, or jolt to the head, and the second type is a penetrating injury.

How did you get involved in your work with TBI survivors? How did this project get its start at Kansas State University?

Jane Mertz Garcia, professor in Communication Sciences and Disorders, has been working with people with traumatic brain injury for more than 20 years, and I have many years of experience in working with older adults and people with disabilities. Older adults are affected by TBI more than other groups, along with young children and adolescents, although anyone of any age may experience a TBI. Additionally, Kansas is significantly affected by TBI, and has the highest fatalities rate of 33 reporting states. Professor Garcia saw an opportunity to form a partnership between academic and extension faculty to use the strengths of the Kansas State University Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service to help support adult survivors and their families in their local communities in Kansas.

What is “TBIoptions: Promoting Knowledge”?

TBIoptions: Promoting Knowledge is a program designed to raise awareness and knowledge of traumatic brain injury, and to encourage individuals and communities to actively support survivors and families. The program is designed in two learning formats, with dissemination by K-State Research and Extension agents in local communities and also through an automated, Internet-based version.

The program promotes knowledge by explaining the basics of TBI, such as the definition, causes, and how it affects individuals. For example, a TBI may cause changes in thinking (cognitive processes) that make it difficult to return to work or live independently. An important objective of the program is for participants to learn ways to support people with traumatic brain injury in their communities.

You used video vignettes for this project. Would you describe how you created these?

The vignettes were critical in augmenting the learning of participants by providing first-hand accounts from people who experienced TBI. Professor Garcia and I developed an interview questionnaire related to the programmatic objectives. Brent Anders, electronic media coordinator from the Office of Mediated Education, and I traveled to meet, interview, and videotape these individuals in all regions of the state. Shalin Hai-Jew, instructional designer from the Information Technology Assistance Center (iTAC), transcribed the many hours of videotape that resulted from these interviews. Professor Garcia and several graduate research assistants combed through the transcripts to identify sections that were illustrative of the main educational objectives.

For example, some vignettes focus on the events surrounding the injury while others emphasize the consequences of TBI to relationships and the ability to return to work. These separate sections were integrated to create five vignettes per survivor. The individual sections within each vignette, complete with exact time stamps, were shared with Anders and his staff, who created the videos. Extensive research was conducted regarding “best practices” for video captioning. The original transcripts were used as a basis for developing captions for each video clip, with accuracy checked and re-checked between Professor Garcia and me. These captions were shared with Anders’ staff, who superimposed the captions on each clip, along with the Kansas State University watermark. Videos are created in two formats in order to meet the needs of the in-person and Internet-based versions of the program.

What are some of the strategies you used in incorporating technology to reach your target audiences for the TBI trainings?

One of the primary goals of this program is to reach traditional Cooperative Extension and non-traditional audiences. This goal was accomplished through the development of an in-person program that can be delivered in local communities by K-State Research and Extension agents. This program was then translated into an Internet-based version.

One unique aspect of both versions of the educational program resides in the provision of interactive choice. Participants in both versions are introduced to three survivors and are given the choice of which survivor story to follow throughout the rest of the program. The vignettes associated with that choice are then presented to the participants. Reflective questions and answers specific to each survivor are also used as interactive, educational supports for the vignettes.

What will your presentation “Advancing Public Knowledge of Traumatic Brain Injury: Creating Change in Kansas” address?

This presentation will focus on four main points: 1) the creation of video vignettes to augment specific educational objectives; 2) results of the research study that compared the in-person and Internet-based versions of the program; 3) the opportunities for expansion of educational objectives; and 4) future directions for the project.