Project Abstract

Significance: Today's U.S. healthcare systems are facing new challenges: healthcare expenditures will reach almost 20% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in less than 10 years, threatening the wellbeing of the entire economy. Tele-healthcare would largely benefit our society by significantly reducing medical resources consumption and nursing labor. Although Tele-Healthcare Engineering is such an important field, unfortunately most schools do not have systematic undergraduate educational materials on tele-healthcare design. One of the reasons is due to the challenge of developing tele-healthcare materials in a multi-disciplinary context (across healthcare principles, computer networking, and embedded systems).

Intellectual Merit: We will conduct the pioneering development of tele-healthcare educational materials based on our long-term research in this field. We will shape our research results into undergraduate labs/course materials based on the following two innovative development approaches:

Novelty 1: Building-block development style: Inspired by kids' building blocks that could be assembled into an object however with good modularity (i.e. the building blocks can be easily reshuffled and assembled into different smaller objects), we will develop 5 project-labs trees (including cardiac monitoring, mental health, sensor/RFID integration, medical security, and long-distance medical transmission). Those 5 project-lab trees are independent, i.e. there are no time order and context requirements among them. Therefore, each project can be used for senior project class or in different engineering courses (such as real-time systems, circuit /digital design, wireless communications, etc.).

Novelty 2: Multi-Dimensional Learning: We propose to use 4-dimensional pedagogy to develop and teach tele-healthcare engineering knowledge:

Dimension-1: Multi-student-level adaptive materials: To meet different schools' course setup requirements, we will design basic, intermediate and advanced labs for different levels of undergraduate students.

Dimension-2: Blending (on-site + on-line) learning: while on-site learning has good instructor-student interaction opportunities, on-line learning can enable good student peer-to-peer interaction. On-line learning helps instructors to design individual-adaptive materials that cannot be achieved in on-site learning.

Dimension-3: Medical-application-driven, practical learning: Engineering students show much greater enthusiasm to materials that are closely connected to their lives (i.e. application-driven learning) than pure theoretical lab topics (such as writing a program to verify an algorithm).

Dimension-4: Multi-solution-based, creative engineering learning: We propose to use level-to-level question-based, non-instructional lab style to motivate students to seek for solutions from out-of-classroom materials such as web resources. And we will make a set of flexible grading policy to encourage students' out-of-box thinking and creative engineering designs.

Project evaluation will be led by the PIs with the assistance from our school's teaching evaluation center called Institute for Social Science Research (ISSR). Dr. McCallum is the Director of ISSR and a senior research social scientist. She will help to develop the assessment methods, implement the evaluation plan, and analyze student learning results. Two project consultants - an epileptologist Dr. A. LeBron Paige, and a cardiologist Dr. Jian Huang, both with a medical school, will help us to evaluate the suitability of our tele-healthcare materials from practical medical application viewpoint.