Making a Powerful Connection: the Health of the Public and the National Information Infrastructure. 6.10 Scenario 10: Commuting to School on the Information Superhighway

07/06/1995

Mr. Jose Wantabe is working in Butte, Montana in a job he considers "dead end." He is dissatisfied because has always dreamed of a career in public health. While surfing the web on his computer one evening, Jose notices that the University of Michigan School of Public Health is offering a masters degree through the "School of Public Health Without Walls," a consortium of programs offering the degree over the network. His acceptance package comes complete with a CD-ROM of hypertext reference books and study materials, and software for interacting with his professors, mentors in public health practice, and fellow students over the network. The software provided allows him to carry on two-way voice and video conversations while exchanging data in the background. The materials and software are updated regularly and automatically each time Jose connects to the consortium's database. Although Jose enjoys the multimedia format of the materials, he finds the conversations with his fellow students over the network to be even more interesting and informative. The real excitement occurs when Jose is able to link up with his mentor's computer in Colorado as she works up a epidemic of diarrhea and vomiting in a remote mountain village. While it is not quite the same as being there in person, the ability to carry on a side conversation while watching the actual data mapping and message exchanges that are occurring on his mentor's computer screen as she investigates and resolves the problem makes the practice of public health real and exciting for Jose.