Wong Gets Oriented

Wong Gets Oriented

I took my son for his orientation to St. Mary’s College last week.  It gave me an idea of how dependent these kids are on the Internet, not just computers, but the world wide web.  It also made it clear to me just where we “live” now and where we will be “living.”  More and more we’ll all be turning to the Internet for our credible health information…just look at what the kids do now.

Many of you I support doctor’s use of the Internet and I write weekly for a  “physician’s blog” encouraging doctors to implement the Internet in their practice.  This article paraphrases last week’s post where I describe my observations made during Grant’s orientation.  When I was in college, I brought a Smith-Corona typewriter with me.  It was electric, had its own case, and I had to use those annoying strips

1.  At the outset of the trip, neither son nor daddy could agree on the best route.  We used the GPS systems linked to each of our smart phones (yes, my 18 year old has one).

2.  While air conditioning is still a luxury item at college (his dorm lacks AC), each and every dorm room has a broadband connection.  “WiFi” is only available in the library and classrooms.

3.  The college has gone “green.”  Each department stresses communication via email.  Every student receives a personal campus email address, however, we are told,  “most students never check email.”  Apparently, most college kids communicate exclusively via FaceBook and text messaging.

4.  All student billing and other administrative functions are channeled through a secure online “portal.”  Class assignments, notes, etc. are also posted on an online forum.  This means that all grades, bills, meal plan changes, class notes, etc. are now “online.”

5.  Laptop computers can be borrowed for free from the library.  They may be used anywhere on campus.  There is free access available when needed.

(BTW – have you checked the price of a basic laptop with WiFi?  Available now for under $300 locally.  Online access has become affordable – in fact, cheaper than a “smart phone.”

Lost computers can be located by searching for the missing computer’s MAC address.  This ID tag for computers online makes it difficult to “borrow” or lose a computer on campus.

6.  The college has abundant computer labs featuring both PC’s and Macs.  Some labs are open  24 hours and the campus computer center helps you diagnose and fix and problems you’ve encountered with your own computer, i.e. there is free access and support.

7.  We met with the most of the department heads  just as we met with the chief of IT (information technology).  When I went to school, there was no such thing as IT, much less an entire department.

8.  I dutifully used my iPhone to snap a few pics and text them to my wife.

9.  Copy machines are becoming obsolete.  Instead, each student starts the semester with $25 credit for printing.  Using the scanners, however, is free.  Instead of “copying,” the kids “scan” and download the images to a flash drive or shared storage.

“Shared” storage is given to each undergrad.  This is hard disk space alotted to each student on the school server (network computer).  This storage is backed up during the day and each student as access to any of their files (music, spreadsheets, documents, pics, etc) from any computer with a network/Internet connection.

10.  Best of all…when the washing machine or dryer has finished the load…an email message is sent.  Now it all makes sense, reread item #3!

What Does This Mean? Clearly, every aspect of a college student’s life is now integrated with the Internet, not just a computer, but online access.  The school even expects me to be fluent with computers by paying bills online and transferring money to Grant’s account while at school.

This generation will be using the Internet for every part of their college experience;  eating, studying, grades, bills, socialization and communication.

Doesn’t it seem logical that this generation, even more so than now, will be turning to the Internet for health information?  Isn’t logical they’ll turn to the Internet looking for a doctor?

Hmmm…maybe docs should be using the Internet, too.

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  • John Farrell
    Posted at 08:00h, 29 July Reply

    Congrats on getting Grant oriented and started on this great adventure. What will the world be like in another 5, 10, 20 and 40 years? It’s really unimaginable…

    We went through a similar experience in 1994 at Virginia Tech, which was primative compared to where St. Mary’s is today, and they were leading edge at the time. I remember my orientation long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away with my brand new state-of-the-art slide ruler. My computer labs used punch cards that were always punched in error so we learned very little about computing other than how to debug programs. Alas, somehow we graduated and are now part of the world you describe. Thanks for sharing this story.

    You are a pioneer in your profession – keep up the effort. I’m sure, at times, it is frustrating and discouraging when your peers drag their feet and hid behind archaic notions but you are absolutely correct, and doctors that are slow to use the Internet will probably find themselves on the outside looking in because their patients will be on the inside looking for a doctor.

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