The University Record, November 12, 2001

Nine receive Computerworld honors from Smithsonian

By Liz Manasse
University Record Intern

Nine projects from the U-M are now part of a permanent archive of the Information Revolution. The projects have been honored by the Computerworld Smithsonian Program for innovative use of information technology (IT).

Established in 1988, the Computerworld Smithsonian Program aims to document the Information revolution. Projects become part of the Smithsonian Institution’s Permanent Research Collection. Nominees for the program are those people who are using information technology to address real problems that affect society.

U-M projects and laureates recognized this year are as follows:

The Breast Cancer Genetics Web site—Steve Burdick, technologist, Comprehensive Cancer Center Health Media Research Lab

This integrated health Web site combines public access to breast cancer information with private consolidation of family history information, helping doctors to better understand the genetic background of breast cancer. “Receiving the award heightens the awareness of the site, boosting the importance of women’s health issues like breast cancer,” says Burdick.

Environmental Spatial Analysis Lab (ESALab)—Dan Brown, associate professor of natural resources and environment

The ESALab is a center of expertise for the development and application of geographical information systems (GIS) and remote sensing technology in the study of socially significant environmental processes and problems. “The award gives us encouragement to continue on the path of developing and using spatial information technologies as a basis for multi-disciplinary collaboration,” says Brown.

Head and Neck Anatomy Education Tool—Geraldine “Geri” Durka-Pelok, health science research assistant, Department of Cell and Development Biology

This project, developed in the Medical School, is an interactive QuickTime movie used as an educational tool in teaching head and neck anatomy to dental and medical students. An individualized approach to learning reduces the disadvantages created by students’ differences in educational background, reading and study skills. “The significance of the project is that, properly used, technology can enhance and support traditional teaching methods by combining passive strategies, such as teaching and listening, with active strategies, such as interactive digital media,” says Durka-Pelok.

Health ‘o’ Vision Volume 1—Edward Saunders, director of unit data systems, Cancer Center

This interactive multimedia program offers free access to reliable and personalized health information in an easy-to-use format. It is available through 100 stand-alone, touch-screen kiosks (similar to automated teller machines) throughout Michigan in public locations such as shopping malls, libraries, supermarkets, factory floors and other locations serving low-income populations. “We found a way to bring the power of interactive multi-media technology to a population that doesn’t usually have access to health information,” says Saunders.

M-Track—Edward Adams, director of the computing service, School of Business Administration

The Business School’s electronic community, known as M-Track, unites the global network of faculty, staff, students, alumni and corporate partners, providing tools to access vital decision-making information and enhance productivity. “At the U-M Business School, we believe that distributed information management, a commitment to technology and developing business leaders are key to the success of a constantly change information-driven society,” says Adams.

The Meter-Dose Inhaler Instructional Web site—Cary Johnson, professor of pharmacy

This instructional Web site assures correct operation of complicated metered-dose inhalers. “The Internet makes it possible for students and patients to access and review the complicated process of correctly using an inhaler medication at home,” says Johnson. “It is often impossible to provide this information in a lecture setting or when patients are in a hurry to leave the hospital, clinic, doctor’s office or pharmacy.”

Tips for Teens—Edward Saunders, director of unit data systems, Cancer Center

Tips for Teens, a powerful and engaging interactive program, educates teens about sexually transmitted disease prevention, delaying sexual intimacy and promoting safe sex behaviors. “We found that certain things were very important to teens, such as privacy while using the program and receiving facts without a sugar coating.”

Business School CourseTools—Tomalee Doan, director of the Kresge Business Administration eLibrary

Coursetools is a single, easy-to-use interface that powers the Web presence of courses, encouraging faculty to make the Internet an increasingly integral component of courses. “Since many business school students travel extensively, CourseTools allows students to access materials online from anywhere in the world,” says Doan. “The site has also had a big impact on the school by increasing the technology learning curve for faculty. Almost 100 percent of faculty use CourseTools.”

The Interdisciplinary Child Welfare Training Project—Kathleen Faller, professor of social work

This project gives professionals working with complex child welfare cases access to multimedia training materials online. “By making these materials readily available through the Web, we can reach professionals whom we otherwise could not,” says Faller. “Better decisions by professionals working with these children and their families can improve the futures of children.”