Saturday, July 4, 2009

Information Technology at Harvard Medical School is Amazing!

On Wednesday incoming HMS students had their first official introduction to information technology. Two years ago the president of HMS promised to invest whatever it takes to make HMS the world leader in education technology. I was genuinely impressed with the integrated system they have since built for the students. Here are just some of the features we were introduced to.

All lectures are taped and broadcasted at twice the speed. Video feed is digitally modified to correct the pitch of the speakers’ voices. Lectures are available in podcast format compatible with iPhone, Blackberry and iPod, of course. All lecture materials can be downloaded and viewed with any eBook reader, notably the Kindle. In fact, a new pilot is being developed right now that would have a wireless auto-update of class materials and other resources.

Class and exam schedules can be downloaded and combined with Google calendar. This in tern is readily synced with your iPhone or Blackberry. This is enourmously useful to me, a Blackberry user. Students get access to their academic information through a single consolidated portal – My Courses. In addition to academic information, My Courses also features live links to department updates. You can pick and choose what departments you are interested in. For example, I am interested in the latest advances in neural prosthesis. I can easily stay in touch with the latest news at HMS in this area.

My Courses offers easy access to the most popular educational resources: New England Journal of Medicine, Journal LiveWatch, Journal of American Medical Association, and many other professional publications. Amazingly, each of these also exists as a mobile version. You can read your favorite medical news on your PDA. I tested all of this out on my BlackBerry -- it works like magic! So cool!!!

You also get easy online access to Virtual Laboratory where you can view pictures of histology slides in high res. Virtual Anatomy Lab is astonishing: it features a 3-D image of a body that you can zoom in/zoom out on. You can peel off layers of tissues and see what is underneath. High res images of slides really are high res: a single slide we looked took up 16GB, you could zoom in to see individual cells in high resolution.

Harvard email is set up to work with any PDA. You can also forward your email to Gmail and check it on your PDA. Email updates sync easily with Google. I noticed that in less than a week I received three financial aid offers for small scholarships to help pay for tuition. I’m definitely going to look into some of them.

In short, HMS has the single most integrated and easy to use IT system I have ever seen. It is specifically designed to work with all of the most popular devices that make our lives easier and more productive. I really can’t wait to start my life at Harvard!

3 comments:

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