as told to Eve Jacobs
Universities are bringing “higher education”
to new audiences — even to those who will
classes on their campuses or earn
credits towards a degree. The Web is the
venue for expanding a University’s “reach”;
and two very popular sites—YouTube
and Apple’s iTunes University—are the
virtual “go-to” spots for those in the know.
UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical
School (RWJMS) professor of surgery
Edmund Lattime, PhD, who is also
associate director of The Cancer Institute
of New Jersey (CINJ), is right in sync
with the times in recognizing the
potential of these sites for making
new information easier and quicker
to access. He has begun the process
of building virtual homes where both
academic community and
consumers can go to find the newest
particularly on cancer.
||Why do you think it’s important
to post scientific lectures on the Web?
Well, this all started because CINJ offers
outstanding seminars, including a weekly Grand Rounds, a monthly Distinguished Lecture series and yearly conferences that include The Governor’s Conference on Effective Partnering in Cancer Research and the Annual Retreat for Cancer Research in New Jersey. Unfortunately, not everyone who is interested can make it to New Brunswick when the lectures are scheduled. We have 300 to 400 affiliated oncology faculty statewide at a network of 18 to 20 hospitals. When we asked them what they want from their relationship with CINJ, most said education. Since many of them can’t make it to the seminars or conferences, we needed an easy way to get the seminars to them. So, what do they all have in common? The vast majority have easy access to computers and the Web.
||Why did you choose to work with these two sites?
Apple’s iTunes University has been
establishing relationships with academic
institutions, offering a free platform for
posting educational video and audio
podcasts. Berkeley (University of California) has been my model. When I saw their site, I got really
excited, and with RWJMS, we put together a site on iTunes U. You can go there to access quite a few lectures and then download them to your iPhone, iPod or your desktop.
||What about YouTube? Isn't that a site for sharing short videos - and, of course, for "virtual" participation in the presidential candidates' forums?
All of that is true, but nonprofits can apply for a waiver to post material that is longer than 10
minutes. YouTube is a very popular site, especially for young people. It’s not purely academic and it’s very easy to use. All you need is a browser. You can watch the videos from any
computer, you don’t need an iPod and you don’t need any
particular software. I think we can reach a wider audience on YouTube.
||Can you give an example of the audience you are trying to reach beyond the academic community and what you are offering this audience that's not available somewhere else?
The first that comes to mind is a symposium we offered at last year's Annual Retreat entitled "Young People with Cancer - Unmet Needs." This is an "in between" population - from late teens to age 29. They are sometimes included in pediatric or adult groupings, but are distinctly different. They don't get information from attending support groups because they don't have the time to attend. We even tried planning an event for them on a Saturday, but very few came out. Most work, many have children, and they want to be at home with their kids at night and on weekends. We asked ourselves how we could reach them. And keeping with our knowledge that this age group turns to technology, and that many own iPods, we posted this series of lectures on both iTunes U and YouTube in November. I guess we were right. By January, we had hundreds of hits for each lecture/panel discussion for a total of more than 2,000 hits on YouTube alone. In January, we were the 37th most subscribed nonprofit YouTube site.
||What other plans do you have for using these sites to reach new audiences?
We started uploading full-length videos on YouTube in late October. We’ve since joined with the NJ Commission for Cancer Research (NJCCR) with whom we regularly partner, and have already posted 16 videos. Among the most visited so far are Dr. Arnold Levine’s basic science cancer presentation and the
lectures on breast cancer genetics from last year’s Governor’s Conference. All sessions from this year’s Governor’s Conference on Stem Cells and Cancer, which was held on April 10, will be posted. Our 2008 Annual Retreat public forum session, scheduled for May and focusing on cancer survivorship, will also be available on both sites. Now that we have seen the power of this means of communicating, the NJCCR and CINJ are partnering to make patient education videos specifically designed for YouTube. This is a very powerful medium. Without ever advertising the launching of our sites, many people have found them; and we can reach far more individuals than could attend our meetings, or even view the lectures on DVD. If someone goes to YouTube and types in Cancer in NJ, the site will pop up.
This approach works especially for young populations and the cost is minimal. We pay to have programs videotaped, but we pay nothing to Apple or YouTube for posting. We’ve taken a good first step and we’re pleased and impressed with the results — we know people are visiting our sites. This has great potential to enhance two-way communication. It’s been fun and the gratification is instantaneous. If there is a downside, I don’t know it yet. n
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