HCC nursing professor Ian Camera

Ian Camera

Connecting computers and health education

By Barry Schatz

Ian Camera is a self-described geek. He loves technology and embraces its value and application in the modern classroom.

"I'm a grownup nerd," he says.

But there's another side to Camera too -- the people person, the one who loves to help, to ease pain, to teach and to heal. That's why he became a nurse.

Lucky for HCC.

Since he became a full-time professor of Nursing in 2002, Camera has introduced many new technologies into his classes and into the Nursing department.

Camera, 43, grew up in Amherst, where he still lives with his wife and two sons. He says he became hooked on technology in the 1980s when personal computers began to make their way into people's homes.

A good friend was the child of computer programmers, with multiple computers in their house. "I would play on them," he said. "I have never learned computer programming myself, but I have always been interested in technology as a problem-solving tool."

Later, when he went away to Connecticut College in 1988, he asked his parents for a computer, rather than a typewriter, which most students were still using.

Rather than study technology, though, Camera's upbringing had turned him toward the healing arts. His parents and step-parents all had master's degrees in social work.

"I grew up in an atmosphere where empathy for others was prime," says Camera.

Working for years as a staff member at a summer camp in Plymouth, Vt., often dealing with youngsters who were sick or lonely, reinforced that tendency.

He earned his bachelor's degree in psychology with thoughts of becoming a psychologist, but the trend toward treating patients with prescription medication and away from traditional therapy did not appeal to him.

He realized he wanted to work in a field that combined research and clinical aspects. Nursing seemed like the perfect choice. He went on to earn a master's degree in 2000 and doctorate in 2001 in nursing at Case Western Reserve University in Ohio.

In the last few years, Camera has been a prime mover in the HCC Nursing department's transition toward the "flipped classroom," a new and innovative teaching model that utilizes modern technology to move lectures out of the classroom and other work in.

All HCC nursing students are now provided with iPads, on which they view pre-recorded lectures as "homework," thus freeing up classroom time for discussion, group work, and hands-on projects. The podcast lectures are accessed using iTunes U, Apple's platform for teaching.

"iTunes U is the empty shell of the iTunes store," said Camera, "which I can fill with media files, documents, web links, apps and homemade textbooks."

Camera is a big proponent of electronic textbooks that students can access on their iPads rather than the traditional heavy tomes they used to lug around.

The new technology also enables students to make their own film demonstrations.

"They practice, edit, shoot multiple takes and can add commentary," said Camera. "They immerse themselves in these skills, so they'll never forget them."


Holyoke Community College
303 Homestead Ave. Holyoke, MA 01040
(413) 538-7000