Due to international demand for comprehensive social and behavior change courses, a new online platform now offers 10 free, self-paced SBC classes in English and French, and plans to double its offerings by the end of 2023.
SBC Learning Central, created by the Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs-led Breakthrough ACTION project, is designed to provide public health professionals with foundational knowledge and skills to incorporate new social and behavior change methodologies into their work. It is also meant to raise the visibility of the SBC field among more donors, ministries and implementing partners.
The online courses and toolkits aim to increase SBC knowledge across a variety of health topics, from sexual and reproductive health to emergency outbreaks, and to outline a variety of successful approaches.
“Our goal is to help create a critical mass of skilled SBC practitioners and supportive decision makers worldwide,” says CCP’s Lisa Mwaikambo, a senior program officer who is coordinating SBC Learning Central. “Other e-learning platforms have a handful of SBC classes here and there. But this is a terrific opportunity to really specialize in SBC, especially with so many of the courses offered in both English and French.”
Says CCP’s Elizabeth Serlemitsos, who directs the Breakthrough ACTION project: “Social and behavior change has the potential to strengthen the global health ecosystem. I am delighted we are launching this online platform where donors, health officials, and SBC practitioners alike can broaden and deepen their SBC knowledge.”
With three courses given in French, SBC Learning Central began in December with a soft launch at the 2022 International Social and Behavior Change Communication Summit. Nearly 1,000 people, many from West and Central Africa where French is spoken, became registered users and many of them took courses after hearing about it by word-of-mouth before the official June 1 launch.
There are now 10 courses, seven of which are in both English and French, covering approaches from audience segmentation to behavioral economics, as well as health areas like malaria. Nutrition and gender courses are also expected to be added this year.
Mwaikambo says that trainings are a key to successful capacity strengthening in public health, but that one-off trainings don’t always stick with the people who take them. She says the courses on SBC Learning Central can be incorporated into other trainings, as homework or work assigned before a training starts.
And while the classes are mostly asynchronous, there will be opportunities for people to get advice on how to apply these SBC approaches and methods into their specific contexts, through meet-the-expert sessions and office hours allowing for interaction with course authors.