Photonovella Discussion November 17 - 24, 2008

Discussion Announcement

The use of photonovellas for health literacy education has been an extremely popular topic on the Health & Literacy Discussion List. Literacy teachers and health educators have found photonovellas to be an effective teaching tool for addressing health issues in a group setting, particularly among the Latino population. Early work with this model showed that this tool was also effective in promoting community development, and that the process of creating the photonovella was perhaps more important than the final product in terms of educating people.

In this discussion, we will learn about the process of creating photonovellas and how they can help bridge the gap between the literacy and health communities. We will also discuss and share resources, and hear from teachers who have recently used health-related photonovellas with their students for prenatal education.

Guest Biographies

Susan J. Auger, MSW is President and Founder of Auger Communications, a company dedicated to building a greater sense of community and understanding in public, private, and nonprofit organizations. Consulting services include facilitation, project management and customized education in the areas of communication, collaboration, and diversity. Aprendo Press, the publishing component of her company, specializes in teaching with stories and produces health education materials for adults with low literacy skills.

In 2003, the Ludwig Boltzmann-Institute for the Sociology of Health and Medicine at the University of Vienna, Austria identified her innovative 'Teach-With-Stories' method using photonovels as an international 'best practice' model for addressing prenatal education, health literacy, and health empowerment needs. In a 2007 report, the Center for HealthCare Strategies identified this approach as an effective strategy to improve access to quality prenatal care for Hispanic women.

Susan has been working in public health for 17 years, with a special focus on women's and children's health. She has worked with community-based hospitals, health departments, and nonprofit organizations at the state and local levels. As a member of the Migrant Health Leadership and Training Center of the National Center for Farmworker Health, she provides technical assistance and training services to community health centers throughout the United States. She also provides consultation services to national and international health and wellness programs to help health professionals and health programs be more responsive to the needs of poor and underserved populations. Susan has presented at statewide, national and international conferences on topics including cultural competency and health literacy.

Susan is currently a doctoral student with Fielding Graduate University in Human and Organizational Systems. She received a Masters in Social Work from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a clinical focus in substance abuse, domestic violence and early childhood development. She completed a special graduate studies program at Harvard University in business administration. At Boston College, she received her undergraduate degree in Philosophy, with a minor in Human Resources.

John Comings was a member of the faculty of the Harvard Graduate School of Education and Director of the National Center for the Study of Adult Learning and Literacy (NCSALL) from 1996 to 2008, which was funded by the U.S. Department of Education as the national research and development center focused on educational programs for adults who have low literacy and math skills, who do not speak English, or who do not have a high school diploma. Before coming to Harvard, Dr. Comings spent 12 years as Vice President of World Education, a nonprofit agency that supports adult education projects in Asia, Africa, and the United States. In the 1970s he produced a series of photonovels, Los Hermanos, used in adult ESOL classes in Western Massachusetts and a health education photonovel in Troy, NY. His dissertation was an impact evaluation of the Troy photonovel, and he and a colleague published a manual on how to develop photonovels using a participatory process that involves learners in the production of their own learning materials.

Discussion Preparation

Online Video:

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