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

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Today's podcast is about Weeks 11 and 12 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, IL.  Today is Sunday, April 13th, 2014.  It was a busy week for me this past week - I'm the chair of the Fellows Selection Committee for the Sloan Consortium, and this committee is in the midst of evaluating eight people who have been nominated for Fellow recognition.  In case you don't know, Fellows of professional societies are individuals who are recognized for sustained contributions to the field - in this case, to the field of online education.  There currently are 31 Fellows of the Sloan Consortium, and three of them are on the faculty at UIS - something that we all take a lot of pride in.  It is interesting to read the nominations and learn more about the accomplishments of the nominees.  Well, enough about my activities - so on with the podcast now.

This past week, in Week 11, we looked at a number of topics related to the use of the Internet in seeking health and wellness information.  I was quite gratified to see how much everyone already knew about this topic, and how active most all students were in the discussions in Blackboard.  It seems that a number of you already go to sites like WebMD to find healthcare information – to find information to assist in diagnosis, to check out treatments, and to learn about the side effects of various prescription drugs.  In every class, it seems that there is someone who was able to check out certain symptoms on the web, and identify a certain illness that they had, or that someone in their family had, and then inform their physician about this potential diagnosis – which then lead to subsequent confirmation by their physician.  Just another way that the Internet is having a positive impact on all our lives!  Although, I have to say that I was surprised to see that a number of you don't seek out healthcare information online - and, in fact, some of you seem to avoid this completely - a number of you commented that looking at sites like WebMD would turn you all into hypochondriacs.

One of the new things I learned about this week was related to all of the apps that you can have on your smartphones that are related in some way to health and wellness - ranging from counting calories to tracking exercise.  It really was interesting for me to see all these recent developments in this area.

I actually was surprised to see that a number of the students in the class don't have health insurance, and try to avoid the expense of going to see a doctor.  I've had health insurance through my work at the University of Illinois since 1980, so I guess I'm not fully aware of how many people don't have this type of coverage.  As an aside, hopefully the Affordable Care Act will help everyone in the class to get health insurance at a reasonable cost.

Lastly, I want to thank a number of you for bringing new health-related websites to our attention - such as the Aetna mobile app – I've bookmarked several of them for future use.  [And we certainly had a really interesting discussion about the MonthlyInfo.com website - what an amazing free service this is!]

Well, this coming week in Week 12, we'll be looking at the Digital Divide - which Wikipedia defines as:

"... the gap between people with effective access to digital and information technology and those with very limited or no access at all. It includes the imbalances in physical access to technology as well as the imbalances in resources and skills needed to effectively participate as a digital citizen.  In other words, it is the unequal access by some members of society to information and communication technology, and the unequal acquisition of related skills. The digital divide may be classified based on gender, income, and race groups, and by locations."

We'll be reading four reports from the Pew Internet and American Life Project, and these reports are entitled Use of the Internet in Higher-Income Households, For Minorities - New Digital Divide Seen, Digital Divide is Matter of Income, and Digital Differences.  Well, the third report is actually an article from the NY Times that was based on one of the Pew reports. 

The Pew report about the use of the Internet in higher-income households found that people living in these households are more likely to use the Internet on any given day, more likely to own multiple Internet-ready devices, more likely to do things online involving money, and more likely to get news online.  Quite frankly, none of this surprises me.  But I wonder, does any of this give people living in these households an advantage over people of more modest means?  Hopefully we can address this issue in the Week Twelve discussions.

The NY Times article entitled Digital Divide is Matter of Income emphasized that in both their access to and use of the Internet and a suite of other technological devices and applications, households earning more than $75,000 a year significantly outpace lower-earning households, particularly those making less than $30,000 a year.  Not surprisingly, the wealthy engage in online commerce and search for health information more often.  And the richest households are more than twice as likely as the poorest to read online news.

The Pew report about minorities and the "new" digital divide discusses how Latinos and blacks are more likely than the general population to access the Web by cellular phones, and the challenges that result from this. It's tough to fill out a job application on a cellphone, for example. T
here are other limitations on what you can do on a mobile device — updating a resume being the classic example.  The report also mentions that blacks and Latinos may be using their increased Web access more for entertainment than empowerment.

I'm looking forward to some interesting discussions this coming week - looking at the digital divide from several different perspectives.

Finally, let me remind everyone once again that the second paper in our class is due on May 9th, which is just over three weeks away now.  A number of you have yet to select your topic for this paper -- and you all certainly need to get started participating in the “Phase One” discussions.  For those of you who have selected your topic, I hope that you have begun your research, and that you are finding references about laws and public policies to include when writing your papers.  Also, remember that you need to assist others with their papers in the Phase One discussions - for example, by finding additional references that are relevant to their paper topics.  If you have any questions at all about this assignment, please don't hesitate to contact me.

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

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