Brings Faraway Experts to Urbana Classroom
When Dr. John
Lednicky, professor in department of pathology at the Loyola University
Stritch School of Medicine, turns to his left, he can look out the window
of his office and see Lake Michigan. When he turns to his right, he
can see veterinary students in Urbana who are ready to begin their class,
Introduction to Conservation Medicine.
Thanks to computer
technology, Dr. Lednicky will deliver a lecture on emerging viral diseases
of animals simultaneously to students at the College of Veterinary Medicine
and at the main and lakeshore campuses of Loyola University. This course,
offered for the first time in the fall 2001 semester, was the first
at the College to use video conferencing.
The decision to
use video conferencing developed with members of the Education Committee
of the Conservation Medicine Center of Chicago. The CMCC is a joint
effort of Brookfield Zoo, Loyola University's medical school, and the
University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine to examine the
interrelationships among humans, animals, and the environment. Dr. Tony
L. Goldberg, assistant professor of epidmiology, and Dr. Gerald Pijanowski,
associate dean for academics and student affairs, represent the College
on the CCMC's education committee.
committee agreed that video conferencing was the best way for the class
to be taught, according to Dr. Goldberg, instructor for the course.
"This was our only option," he says. "We wanted to expose
our students to faculty with expertise. This faculty doesn't exist on
director of computer services for the College, says the video conferencing
procedure is like using a live camera on the Internet. First the video
screen and equipment are set up. Then a connection is made to the Loyola
site, and suddenly the Loyola campus is on the screen. The students
and lecturers at all three sites are able to talk to one another just
as if they were in the same room.
Dr. Goldberg says
that the students were a little reluctant at first to talk in class,
but he felt that this would change. "I think they may be interacting
less because it's hard to not think of it as TV," says Dr. Goldberg.
The camera used
for the class is the size of a baseball and can be guided around the
classroom by remote control. The unit used by Dr. Goldberg's class is
intended for small meetings of eight or nine people, but Flowers says
starting with a small setup allows them to determine what features are
needed for the future.
way of video conferencing allows universities to share their resources.
Students are able to hear lecturers who might not be able to fit traveling
into their schedule. "The more expertise and the more input a school
can receive," says Dr. Goldberg, "then the more varied the
education will be."
says that the College may use this technology to connect with other
veterinary campuses, such as Purdue, where they offer an animal behavioral
coursesomething that isn't offered yet at Illinois.
has other uses within the College, such as what Dr. Goldberg describes
as virtual rounds. Pathology rounds could be made with other
institutions, allowing students to show or see a pathology sample and
receive feedback from an off-site professor.
Dr. Goldberg says
that one of the ultimate outcomes of the new class will be to have a
room fully equipped with the technology for video conferencing, complete
with multiple hookups so that several universities would be able to
participate in one course.
Will Love, first-year
veterinary student, enrolled in the class because of his interest in
zoological medicine. He has been impressed with the way the video conferencing
aspect has turned out. Despite a warning about possible glitches, only
one technical problem occurred during the semester, resulting in the
cancellation of one lecture.
Love feels that
other classes could benefit from the use of the video conferencing,
especially classes with subject matter like conservation medicine, which
requires the expertise of a variety of faculty.
think the video conferencing is an enriching addition to almost any
class," Love says. "It's a good class and I hope they offer
it again next semester."