Skip to main content

Video library broadens School of Medicine’s reach

September 12, 2007 By Kristin Czubkowski

A new Web site with free video content is bringing the resources of the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health to a global audience of health information consumers.

The Innovations in Medical Education Video Library debuted in January 2007, thanks to grant money from the Wisconsin Partnership Fund, and it has been steadily gaining traffic ever since. According to Michelle Ostmoe, an instructional specialist for the UWSMPH, staff members at Ebling Library and the School of Medicine have worked for nearly two years on the site, gathering videos from on-campus presentations since late 2005.

Ostmoe says the idea for a video library came from wanting to preserve the many health-related presentations and seminars held at the School of Medicine throughout the year. The transition to videotaping these talks was relatively simple, she explains, because five of the lecture halls in the School of Medicine are already equipped with recording equipment that saves lectures for medical students.

"What was quickly realized was that there are all these other events besides just lectures … and the information just happens once and then goes out the window," she says. "If you missed for some reason, you don’t ever get to see it again."

Now, with advance permission from the speakers, event organizers can request that their events be videotaped and added to the Web site. At the beginning of the fall semester, nearly 200 videos were in the IME Video Library, Ostmoe says, and as the semester goes on, at least one video will be added each week.

Recent postings to the video library include material from the Emergency Care and Trauma Symposium held this summer for more than 700 frontline emergency responders across the state. Many of the library’s postings deal with specific health issues, such as low-income access to health care in Milwaukee; and the examination of a universal health care single-payer system for the United States.

The Web site organizes the videos by date, topic and what event series they are part of, and audio versions of the presentations are available for Web site users to download and listen to on portable mp3 players. Videos are usually added to the site about a week after the presentation, after they have been edited and categorized, Ostmoe says, and viewers can sign up for an RSS feed that alerts them to updates.

While the focus is now on promoting the video library, Ostmoe says the project is "dynamic" and that she expects continual additions and improvements. One current effort is expanding videotaping beyond the five on-campus lecture halls so that presentations made at UW Hospital and remote locations can also be featured in the library.

Promoting the video library is important, Ostmoe says, because of the wide audience it can reach: the IME Video Library opens up the resources of UW–Madison to the School of Medicine’s entire statewide campus as well as to academics and health consumers around the world. The videos are provided free of charge to those who register for the Web site, and viewers do not have to be UW–Madison students and faculty to sign up.

"It’s primarily to promote the Wisconsin Idea, but we can already see that it’s benefiting people throughout the country," Ostmoe says. "I’ve gotten e-mails from people from other medical schools from around the country, instructors from around the country that are saying, ‘I just want to know how long this video is going to be here because I want to use it in my class.’"

The goal, Ostmoe answers, is forever.

"Right now, we’re hoping to build this just like you would a library and make it an archive," she says. "If we had the same person come back and give the same talk next year, we probably would replace it, but the idea is to build a library and create an archive of great presentations that happened here."