Design for a Life of Learning: How to Learn About a Disease You Have Without Scaring Yourself to Death

By Amy S. Gurowitz.

Published by The Design Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

MS SoftServe is a web-based learning environment that uses methods based in the theories of cognitive science, theories that inform its design, thereby creating an effective learning resource in a wide variety of subjects. With the design based in a customizable interface, MS SoftServe provides dynamic learning modules that accommodate the diversity of user preferences. This aspect of the website, one that caters to the emotional preference of the user, makes it especially effective for those learning about a change in their health status. The most significant characteristic of a person experiencing this change is anxiety. Individuals who have received a diagnosis of an incurable chronic illness are usually filled with anxiety. This anxiety has been found to be a significant obstacle in learning. While in small amounts anxiety serves as a motivator to learn, the large emotional impact of a diagnosis frequently overwhelms the patient and prevents them from seeking out further information. Individuals with a new diagnosis need to learn about their condition as it changes and evolves over time. This education will not only allow them to be pro-active in their treatment and care, but it may also give them the opportunity to gain a sense of control at a time when they are more likely to be at a loss for it. MS SoftServe is unique in the field of web-based education. It is a learning environment that addresses this challenge and more to cater to an individual’s emotional needs in healthcare learning.

Keywords: Multiple Sclerosis, Learning, Chronic Illness

Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal, Volume 2, Issue 2, pp.123-132. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 600.035KB).

Amy S. Gurowitz

Education Administration, Tisch School of the Arts, Film and TV, Montclair, NJ, USA

A lot has happened to Amy Gurowitz since she was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 1988. She received a Bachelor’s Degree in Film from University of Maryland and an Masters in Educational Communication and Technology from New York University. She has worked in the film archive industry, desktop publishing, television production and most recently higher education where she has researched instructional design in health education. While her diagnosis and education/career track seemed separate realms of her life, in the past decade they have aligned as her work in instructional design became focused on individuals learning about chronic illness through the Internet and the need for a learning environment that recognizes the specific characteristics of this group. Using her own experience with MS as well as her expertise in instructional design, she has created a website that provides low-anxiety learning for individuals who need to understand their lifelong illness as it grows and changes. This unique site is designed to give the users control over the process, and thus empower them for a life of learning. Amy is the founder of SoftServe Matters, a non-profit dedicated to meaningful learning about chronic illness on the Internet.


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