Communities isolated by limited infrastructure and access to health care can benefit from available technology. An example is in West Virginia where commuting to parts of the state for extracurricular education or health care can be difficult, especially in inclement weather conditions due to mountainous terrain. To address these challenges are technologies such as IViN a distant education network of the state’s major university and MDTV the telehealth facility that enable doctors in remote areas to have specialty consultation from the state’s 2 major tertiary health centers in the closest to traditional way possible. With these resources, Health Sciences and Technology Academy (HSTA), an academic enrichment after-school outreach program, developed a teleconference curriculum to foster continual education and interaction between health sciences faculty and high school students. The program targets student populations that are under-represented in the medical and science careers and encourages them to pursue these careers in college. Currently, over 800 students voluntarily participate in this extracurricular program and over 50 math, science, and health high school teachers supervise them. Several health science topics have been presented since 2000 through the teleconference mode without requiring the students to leave their communities. Presenters were from both in and out of WV. Examples of topics include “Forensic sciences,” “Recent advances in understanding the brain” and "Cancer." In an hour and half the presenter(s) stationed at the primary site share information with over 200 students gathered at different sites. Additionally, DVD/VHS copies of the telecast are made available to the high school teachers upon request thus reaching more students. The results also show that at least 90% of students surveyed feel comfortable participating in the teleconference. Additionally, over 80% indicate that they learn ‘a lot’ from the teleconferences. These results demonstrate that teleconference is an innovative technology that can foster connectivity between institutions of higher education, medical centers and populations in communities that are geographical isolated.
|Keywords:||Teleconference, Distant Education|
Assistant Professor, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV, USA
Graduate Assistant, Community Medicine, Morgantown, WV, USA
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