The four stages of creating an effective family life program start with selecting accurate and useful content. This includes research, theory, information about the context in which families or others live and clinical and practical information about effective program delivery. A central activity in this process is learning how to translate research into practical information for people. ("research into practice."). Another important aspect I have labeled "knowing the public mind" which is particularly relevant in programming on the web. It is increasingly critical to know what the public is reading on the web, what issues are being raised and what concerns are being expressed. For those family life educators who are interested in developing web-based programs it seems essential for them to be tracking various commentators on the web who are being read by the public, using a news/blog aggregator to monitor topics and issues from multiple sources and other alert tools (e.g., Google Alerts) to follow topics on the web.
The second stage of program development is creating instructional processes. In the past this meant creating various written documents and F2F workshops. These are still essential skills, but increasingly family life educators will have to be adept at understanding elearning strategies and how to create content on the web.
The third and fourth stages of program development are implementation and evaluation. These too change in the the web environment. Implementation on web means attending to issues of optimizing your work for search engines, integrating various web-based delivery systems effectively-- websites, email, blogs, wikis, etc. Some new strategies must be used in evaluating web-based material. One useful tool is for evaluating work on the web is using web analysis tools such as Google Analytics that tracks the activity on the website including search terms used to find the webpages, search engines on used to find the site and the number of visitors to the site. These data can provide a picture of how the site is being used. The biggest challenge with web-based family life education is measuring impact. Most F2F programs have a somewhat "fixed" dosage of the program (six 1-hour sessions about a topic), this is a less common strategy in web design so different people are getting differing dosages. Likewise, brief visits or encounters with web-based material is unlikely to have any significant impact on a person. There is still much too develop in the area of learning about the impact of web-based programs.