Weeks Ten and Eleven in CSC 442 Section B at UIS – Transcript

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Today’s podcast is about Weeks 10 and 11 in CSC 442 Section B at the University of Illinois at Springfield.  For more information, visit the blog at csc442b.blogspot.com.

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Well, welcome back!  This is Burks Oakley, and I'm speaking to you from my home office in Champaign, Illinois.  Today is Sunday, April 6th, 2014.  I had a great week this past week - my friend, Rich, and I drove to Myrtle Beach, SC, to play golf. Gosh, we really had a good time on this trip - the weather was fantastic and we played golf on four different courses.  On Thursday morning, we played the King's North course at Myrtle Beach National - this course is on Golf Digest's prestigious list of "America's 100 Greatest Public Courses" - and I managed to birdie the number one handicap hole on the course!  I also was able to photograph a couple of birds that I had never seen at a state park south of Myrtle Beach.  All in all, it was a great week!

OK, on with the podcast.  We now are two-thirds of the way through our course - we have less than five weeks left in the Spring 2014 semester.  This past week, in Week 10 of our course, we looked at several reports from the Pew Internet Project that dealt with online commerce, as well as online classified ads and the future of money in the age of smartphones and in-store tablets.  First of all was online commerce.

I find that the Internet is incredibly helpful for researching which items to buy - especially big-ticket items, such as digital cameras.  We had some interesting discussions about seller ratings on eBay, and how some of you and people you know have had problems shopping on eBay or from companies that are overseas.  We also discussed how many of you provide online ratings of things you have bought online - but a number of you don't take the time to do this. 

Several of the student-led discussions had a focus on the security of shopping online, and I was surprised to see that several students did not trust any online merchants -- especially when major credit cards have a zero-liability policy.  We compared using a credit card online with using a credit card in a restaurant, where the server could easily copy the data from your card while out of sight.  [I posted some information about swipers, and a great YouTube video showing just how easy it is to copy a credit card.]

I enjoyed reading all of the postings about the need for cash, the need for coins instead of small bills, and the almost universal lack of need for writing checks, when everyone pays online.

Finally, we had some really good discussions about CraigsList - since a number of you use this site on a regular basis.  We discussed how to keep yourself safe when dealing with strangers who are buying or selling on CraigsList.

Let me say it’s gratifying to see how the majority of this class is so engaged in the weekly discussions, thinking critically about the issues -- the way that the Internet is impacting our lives.  And it was nice that so many of you kept the discussions moving forward this past week when I was visiting our grandchildren, and not participating in the discussions as much as I usually do.  I really like it when students bring in new sources to support their statements and to teach us all something new.  Overall, we had some really good discussions this past week and I was glad to see how well many of you did in dealing with and managing your own discussion threads.

Well, this coming week in Week 11, we will be examining how Americans use the Internet to get health-related information, and how they use the Internet when dealing with illness.  We'll be reading three reports from the Pew Internet and American Life Project, and they are: Health Online 2013, The Social Life of Health Information, and Family Caregivers are Wired for HealthThe course syllabus also has links to several optional reports on the topic of Internet and health and wellness.  

Gosh, there are just so many sites out there now that we can turn to when we become ill or when a family member is ill.  I'll be interested to see just how many of you use the Internet when looking for medical information.  And, more importantly, how much you trust the information you find online - and how you use online information when talking in person with your physician.  In addition, there are an incredible number of online sites where people can discuss various diseases and treatment alternatives - you all might want to investigate these during Week Eleven of our course.

One of the Pew reports that we will be reading found that the Internet is a means to accelerate the pace of discovery, widen social networks, and sharpen the questions someone might ask when they talk to a healthcare professional. Technology can help to enable the human connection in healthcare.  Not surprisingly, home broadband users are twice as likely as home dial-up users to do health research on a typical day.

Another of the Pew reports found that fully 86% of Internet users living with disability or chronic illness have looked online for information about at least one of 17 different health topics.  And those with chronic conditions are more likely than other e-patients to report that their online searches affected treatment decisions, their interactions with their doctors, their ability to cope with their conditions, and their dieting and fitness regimen.

Pew Internet’s research adds to the picture of an activated patient population by showing that the Internet, particularly social media, enables people to engage with each other and with health care in ways that were almost unimaginable a decade ago.

Regarding the Pew report on family caregivers - well, most caregivers are caring for an adult, such as a parent or spouse, but a small group cares for a child living with a disability or long-term health issue.  Caregivers are more likely than other Internet users to take advantage of social tools related to health, such as blogs and social networking sites. Caregivers are also more likely than other Internet users to read online reviews of drugs, clinicians, and medical facilities.

Finally, we'll see that the online health-information environment is going mobile. Seventeen percent of cell phone users have used their phones to look up health or medical information and 9% have apps on their phones that help them track or manage their health care.

I'm looking forward to our upcoming discussions in Week Eleven of our course.

Finally, remember that your second paper is due by May 9th, which is less than 5 weeks away now.  A number of you have already selected your topic for this paper, but if you haven’t, you should certainly do so shortly.  You should begin to participate in the “Phase One” discussions, and certainly start finding some good references for your paper and help others identify good sources for their papers.  Remember that this paper needs to discuss laws and public policies, and therefore you are going to need to do sufficient research to find appropriate references to discuss in your paper.

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Well, that wraps up this podcast, so until next time, this is Burks, signing off.

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