National Biocomputation Center

Next-Generation Internet Project

Enhanced Medical Education using the Next-Generation Internet

Collaboration with SUMMIT, Univ of Wisconsin, Texas Tech Univ

This project provides an innovative approach in medical education utilizing the capacity of the NGI to make a quantum leap in the content and quality of future learning. We are developing two teaching applications and a local NGI testbed network for evaluating their effectiveness. The first application will support instruction in human anatomy and the second the performance of surgical manipulations. Both applications will support synchronous collaboration through a shared virtual workspace and use haptic feedback to augment the visual sense. This technology will permit the definition of new curricular elements including the repeated dissection of anatomical structures, the visual segmentation of raw data sets, the creation of 3D organ models, and the practice of fundamental surgical skills. Through the unique capabilities of the NGI we anticipate that a wide community of teachers and users will, through a distributed client-server system, share on-line, image-rich data and professional experiences.

The project will explore, in the context of enhancing medical education, technical issues related to quality of service and infrastructure technology for collaborative learning. Quality-of-service issues will be addressed in several forms, including high-bandwidth, sustained-bandwidth, and low-latency/jitter requirements. The benefits of collaborative technology are often praised and the term has become associated with a diffuse collection of educational visions. This project will focus on exploring modes of collaboration that are direct, immediate and promote joint work.

Medical education has a clear and profound impact on the quality and cost-effectiveness of the healthcare delivery system. Advanced medical technologies such as diagnostic imaging, minimal access surgery, laser-based procedures, and innovative nonsurgical alternatives are creating a demand for healthcare professionals with new skills. Technology has an important role to play in improving all levels of education to help healthcare professionals integrate these new procedures into practice. We propose to create innovative applications for teaching human anatomy and basic minimal-access surgery using a collaborative, simulation-based learning environment that exploits the unique capabilities envisioned by the Next Generation Internet. Through these applications we seek to change the environment in which future professionals are trained.

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