Project ALERT Distance Learning Guidelines

As these are very challenging times for teachers, we wanted to provide some suggestions as you implement Project ALERT in virtual settings. Remember that all of our materials are free and on the web and in the public domain, which puts Project ALERT in a good position for distance learning. Here are some ideas to maintain fidelity.

Moving to Virtual Settings

“Do I have permission to create online Project ALERT lessons?” Absolutely! We are authorizing interested users to format lessons into an online teaching platform such as Google Classroom or Canvas, or the platform of your choosing. We are hoping to create some model distance learning modules for instructors to replicate for their virtual classrooms in the near future.

For those of you who are developing remote learning lessons for your ALERT classrooms, would you consider sharing them with us for the benefit of your colleagues? We would happy to post your sample modules on our website for the greater Project ALERT teaching community.

If simple is more your style, note that the Power Point slides that accompany each lesson plan could serve as a springboard for creating some fun and interesting online lessons.

Resistance Self-Efficacy Skills

So much of the focus of Project ALERT is the practice of resistance self-efficacy skills, which could be conducted effectively in a group video chat setting. We also encourage students to practice refusal skills with a parent, guardian, or other trusted adult. There are other places in the curriculum where students break into teams to confer with one another and then decide on a single answer to a question – for instance, the Case Study Activity in Lesson 8 and the Information Review Game in Lesson 11. This could work very well in a group text/chat setting.

Discussions of Normative Data

Two lessons contain activities about perceived and actual norms. These activities would work well in a group chat setting and foster some good dialog as students discover that prevalence of use numbers are so much lower than their estimates.

Posters and Videos

The ALERT videos and posters which are used in several lessons can be shown via Zoom or Microsoft Teams, if password protection is provided, during group chats. Many teachers are using these platforms in conjunction with Google Classroom, Canvas, or Seesaw. (However, many districts have had issues with “Zoom-bombers,” so check with your administrator before using it.)

Advertisement Exercise

Students can scour the internet for alcohol, marijuana, and vaping ads (Lesson 4 activity) and prepare responses about them, as well as create new taglines about what the product is really saying and email them to you (see full activity instructions in that lesson). The savvier students can email the ad links they find to their instructors.

Supplemental Guide Reviews

Students can read online the 4 supplements on vaping, marijuana, prescription opioids/heroin, and club drugs. These are downloadable and you could email them to students. Students could then email their instructors the key points they remember about what they’ve read.

Homework Assignments

Students should be able to complete the homework assignments if lessons are able to be presented via video conferencing. They are downloadable/emailable as well. They may have even better results as many assignments require interaction with parents/trusted adults, and families are spending more time together these days.

Pre- and Post-Test Surveys

The pre- and post-tests can be entered into Survey Monkey or other online survey tool. The survey can be shortened to meet your environmental needs. For instance, we have recently added questions on opioids, but you may find that these would not apply in your setting. We have also added items on vaping, which would very likely apply, given the big increases in prevalence of use over the last few years.

Remember, RSE is Key!

Again, allowing students to practice their resistance self-efficacy skills is the key component of Project ALERT. Have them spend plenty of time on this, including: 1) coming up with reasons for avoiding substances, 2) composing refusal statements they would really use when offered illicit substances, and 3) practicing refusal statements with teachers. Fostering and reinforcing student self-efficacy by validating their responses and praising them for their participation is *the most important thing you'll do in Project ALERT*.