Dartmouth designated Center For Public Health Preparedness

October 03, 2000

Hanover, NH -- Dartmouth College and the Medical School have been designated a national Center for Public Health Preparedness, one of five to play key roles in a comprehensive network to strengthen the country's frontline against health threats, including epidemics and terrorist attacks.

The new centers, established through the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), are major components of an integrated national system to assure public health readiness. Two, including Dartmouth, are "specialty" centers, recognized for a particular expertise. Dartmouth Medical School's pioneering Interactive Media Laboratory will be the leader for applied communications technology. It will provide specialized knowledge, research, educational and production support in computers and Internet applications for professional education and training in public health.

"It is an honor and a tribute to the excellence of our information technology resources that Dartmouth has been selected to contribute to this mission that benefits public health and medicine," said DMS Dean John Baldwin, MD. Baldwin announced the designation in conjunction with Edward Baker, MD, assistant US surgeon general and director of the CDC Public Health Practice Program Office.

The Interactive Media Laboratory (IML), headed by Joseph V. Henderson, MD, has a record of cutting-edge interactive education and a long-time focus on E-learning (also known as distance learning and technology-mediated learning). "We have a long history of pioneering work in E-learning, producing multimedia, immersive training programs for a variety of audiences, as well as developing high-bandwidth, Internet-based E-learning systems," Henderson said. A hallmark of the programs is incorporating narrative and practice opportunities and featuring "mentors who are both master practitioners and master teachers."

Dartmouth's new center will continue to research and develop E-learning models for the public health workforce that keep pace with the rapid technological evolution of computers and the Internet. "Professional education in public health will be increasingly facilitated by the proliferation of computers capable of displaying combinations of text, graphics, video and sound; broadband networks capable of delivering these multiple media to the home or office; and new methods for using these technologies for education and training," Henderson added.

The laboratory is currently developing a prototype distance-learning system for public health professional education that takes advantage of the nascent broadband Internet. The system will be accessible on demand from any location worldwide and will also run on current-generation Internet.

Henderson calls the new center a "Collaboratory for Applied Communication Technology." Using the Internet and Web, it will provide a "virtual" forum to share E-learning ideas, information and experiences that help foster a community of developers. It will also house an interdisciplinary, core development group and faculty at Dartmouth who will offer workshops at different locations and on the Internet. At the same time, the center will produce exemplar E-learning programs for public health professionals and students in related areas, affording opportunities for learners to gain practical experience while creating useful programs.

The goals of Dartmouth's Center are to:

-end-


The Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth

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