Changing Face of Healthcare: The Role Mobile Apps Will Play in Medicine

frida-cooper 80By Frida Cooper

Judging by the sheer popularity of smartphones in modern times, it’s safe to say that this multi-faceted and dynamic invention may just be the best thing since sliced bread. Maybe even better, if sales figures from smartphone manufacturers are anything to go by. The Smartphone’s utility isn’t restricted to the quintessential teenager texting all day or for showing the world what you had for lunch earlier that day. The advent of smartphones and their ability to connect to the veritable hoard of information that is the Internet has revolutionized life in general and pretty much every profession on the face of this world too.

The substantial healthcare industry here in the United States is most definitely one such example. The truth of the matter, though, is that the total impact of smartphones and mobile apps hasn’t even hit the industry yet, but that’s all about to change. Traditionally, the whole dynamic between healthcare professionals and the general population was that of blind faith. The knowledge and expertise of healthcare professionals wasn’t ever questioned, for better or for worse.

The origins

Things all began to change with the advent of the Internet in households across the USA. People started to conduct research on medical maladies that they were suffering from. They started to question the choice of medication, course of treatment taken, and potential side effects. These and many other things that would have been left to the professional’s judgment but a few years earlier were being challenged now that the patient was armed with information.

Where apps fit in

Whether this situation was and is good or bad is still up for debate, but this is where this revolution originated from. When smartphones came to the fore, this situation was taken up a few notches. A study conducted by IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics in 2013 pointed at over 40,000 healthcare-related apps available for download then in the iTunes App Store. Imagine how many more there are when taking platforms like Windows and Android into account. The sheer diversity of topics, too, covered under the healthcare ambit is staggering.  Continue reading

Mars One: 100 Still in Running to Be First Humans on Mars

Amersfoort, 16th February 2015From the initial 202,586 applicants, only 100 hopefuls have been selected to proceed to the next round of the Mars One Astronaut Selection Process. These candidates are one step closer to becoming the first humans on Mars.

“The large cut in candidates is an important step towards finding out who has the right stuff to go to Mars,” said Bas Lansdorp, Co-founder & CEO of Mars One. “These aspiring martians provide the world with a glimpse into who the modern day explorers will be.”

The Mars 100 Round Three candidates were selected from a pool of 660 candidates after participating in personal online interviews with Norbert Kraft, M.D., Chief Medical Officer. During the interviews the candidates had a chance to show their understanding of the risks involved, team spirit and their motivation to be part of this life changing expedition.

Dr. Norbert Kraft said, “We were impressed with how many strong candidates participated in the interview round, which made it a very difficult selection.”

There are 50 men and 50 women who successfully passed the second round. The candidates come from all around the world, namely 39 from the Americas, 31 from Europe, 16 from Asia, 7 from Africa, and 7 from Oceania. The complete list of Mars One Round Three Candidates. Statistics on the candidates can be found here.

The following selection rounds will focus on composing teams that can endure all the hardships of a permanent settlement on Mars. The candidates will receive their first shot at training in the copy of the Mars Outpost on Earth and will demonstrate their suitability to perform well in a team. More information about the selection process can be found here: Mars One Selection ProcessContinue reading

Register for TCC 2015 – The Future Is Now

kimura80By Bert Kimura

Aloha,

Register for the TCC 2015 Worldwide Online Conference, The Future Is Now:

http://tcconlineconference.org/

Enjoy KEYNOTE sessions by:

  • Dr. Howard Rheingold, Author, Critic, Journalist & Educator
  • Alan Levine, Pedagogical Technologist, Architect of Open & Connected Learning
  • Dr. Stella Perez, Sr. VP Communications and Advancement, American Association of Community Colleges

This year, our 20th conference features an ONSITE option to participate in-person at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa campus. There is also an option to participate virtually ONLINE as in previous years.

For further information (including low-cost housing and an optional educational tour), see:

http://2015.tcconlineconference.org/register/

Site licenses for unlimited participation from a campus or system are available. Special rates apply to University of Hawai’i faculty and staff. For more info, contact Sharon Fowler <fowlers@hawaii.edu>.

We look forward to seeing you at TCC 2015.

Warm regards,
Bert Kimura
For the TCC Conference Team

Weary Professors Abandon Technology?

picture of Harry KellerBy Harry Keller
Editor, Science Education

According to US News & World Report, “[P]rofessors say they don’t have enough help to use this technology effectively, haven’t seen results from it, and fear that the cost savings administrators keep insisting that technology will bring could mean their own careers are on the line.”

Just take a moment to break this sentence down and understand what’s being asserted here.

Professors don’t have enough help to use the technology. This comment implies that the technologies under consideration do not have an easily used interface. Good technology should not require any but the most rudimentary training that you can receive from, for example, watching a video.

Professors haven’t seen results from it. Some technologies in education do not generate results. They may be used inappropriately for the course. The results may not match what the technologies enhance. Many professors may be working with anecdotal data from others that could be quite unscientific. The fact that you haven’t seen results from some set of technologies does not mean that all technologies are useless in education.

Professors fear losing their jobs to technology. Some technologies in some institutions could be used that way. If the professor provides no added value, then what is that person doing teaching anyway? Almost no students can guide themselves effectively through the educational process. They don’t know enough to make the necessary choices. Educators will not become obsolete soon. Nevertheless, some institutions may reduce faculty in the mistaken idea that technology can replace them. Fear should not be a determining factor in what to do or not to do. Fearing the inevitable is foolish; fearing the impotent is abandoning yourself to fear.  Continue reading

What Sort of Intelligence?

picture of Harry KellerBy Harry Keller
Editor, Science Education

You may have noticed recent news about Stephen Hawking predicting the demise of the human race due to the rise of artificial intelligence (AI)1. Others of genius rank, such as Elon Musk and Ray Kurzweil2, have also made this prediction. With “The Theory of Everything” (biopic about Prof. Hawking) in theaters right now, this prediction is resonating across the English-speaking world.

Before digging your shelters or heading for the hills, you should ask, “What is artificial intelligence?” A bit of history may help put this entire subject into perspective. The term was coined in 1955 by John McCarthy, who called it “the science and engineering of making intelligent machines.”3 “When?” you ask. “That’s nearly 60 years ago! Before I was born!” (I actually was born well before then, but statistically you probably weren’t.)

Funny how AI has not taken over the world in the 60 years it’s had so far. Why the sudden worry? Computers are becoming more powerful and less expensive. Computer memory is dirt cheap, speaking historically. This trend of more computer power and more memory shows no signs of abating soon. Could it eventually reach the tipping point where machines are sentient and self-reproducing? Would they then remove the “scourge” of humans from the Earth’s surface? Might the end be less dramatic in that they would render people superfluous? Imagine a world in which all work, including creative work, is done by machines. Who needs Beethoven when you have the Ultra-Composer Mark IV?

This entire discussion circles around to defining machine intelligence and estimating exactly how smart machines might become. Right off the bat, understand that intelligence, as we commonly understand it, has not been seen in machines yet. No one truly knows if it ever will be. To comprehend why, you must have a feeling for the nature of computers and computing.  Continue reading

Who Dat? It’s E-Learn 2014! Come, Learn, Share, Connect

By Stefanie Panke
Editor, Social Software in Education

The 19th annual international conference AACE E-Learn took place from October 27-30 in the sunny, warm and welcoming climate of the city of New Orleans. The conference attracted 670 participants from 60 different countries who enjoyed four days of workshops, keynotes, presentations, symposia, SIG meetings, posters, and, last but not least, informal discussions and networking opportunities during the session breaks.

Conference infographic by Stefanie Panke.

Conference infographic by Stefanie Panke.

AACE E-Learn Conference

What sets AACE conferences apart from other events in the educational technology community is the rigorous peer review process in the selection of presentations. Instead of simply submitting an abstract, AACE requires a full manuscript of 6-10 pages. While writing skills do not always and certainly not necessarily translate into great presentations, the quality off contributions is generally high. This also makes the conference proceedings (available in the AACE digital library EditLib) a really great resource for an up-to-date overview of the current state-of-the-art in educational technology. While access to the proceedings is generally restricted to conference participants and subscribers, several papers that were honored with an outstanding paper award are openly accessible:

The best paper awards mirror the diverse spectrum of the conference. E-Learn is a place where educational technology researchers, developers, and practitioners from higher education, K-12, nonprofit and industry sectors meet – brought together by a joint focus on leveraging technology for achieving instructional goals.

My Conference Experience

This conference report is my personal eclectic account of E-Learn 2014. My schedule was packed this year: Not only did I, in a hyperactive mood, choose to deliver three talks, but I also had a symposium and a special interest group meeting to moderate and an executive committee meeting to attend. Luckily, the overall conference atmosphere, the great discussions during the special interest group meeting, and the thoughtful feedback, ideas, encouragement and contributions by numerous conference participants made all of this fun.  Continue reading

The iPhone 6 Plus and Tablets: A Tectonic Drift

Jim ShimabukuroBy Jim Shimabukuro
Editor

The iPhone 6 Plus arrived via USPS priority mail yesterday, so I’ve had it for a little over a day. My first impression is that it has a completely different look and feel from the iPhone 4, which I reviewed in July 2011. The 4 has a solid industrial feel that’s enhanced by sharply beveled edges. I like the way it looks and feels in my hand. The 6+, in comparison, feels fragile, perhaps because of its thinness and rounded edges. This sense of fragility, however, is gradually fading the more I handle it. My guess is that it will take a few days for a new muscle memory to replace the old.

IPhone 6+ and iPhone 4.

iPhone 6 Plus: 6.22 x 3.06 x 0.28 inches, 6.07 ounces. iPhone 4: 4.5 x 2.31 x 0.37 inches, 4.8 ounces.

The most critical factor for me is hand fit. It has to feel comfortable. It took a few hours to adjust to the size difference, especially the length, 6.22″ vs 4.5″. The width difference, 3.06″ vs 2.31″, is noticeable, but it’s surprisingly comfortable in my hand. My immediate thought was that the next version of the plus could easily be an inch wider (4″ instead of 3″) and still fit the average-sized hand.

iPhone 6+ and iPhone 4.

iPhone 6+ and iPhone 4 width: 3.06″ vs 2.31″.

The next critical factor for me is pocketability. It has to fit comfortably in my pants pocket. The 4 fits in any and every pocket. The 6+ fits best in the front pockets. It’s slightly heavier than the 4, 6.07 vs 4.8 ounces, but it actually feels lighter in my pocket. This sensation is probably caused by its dimensions. It’s less dense. Taller, wider, and thinner, the weight is spread out whereas the 4 is concentrated in a smaller area.

Side View iPhones

iPhone 6+ and iPhone 4 thickness: 0.28″ vs 0.37″.

I take my iPhone with me on walks and use it as a music player with in-ear headphones. The 6+ felt comfortable in my right front pocket. I slipped it in upside down because the 1/8″ headphone jack is on the bottom edge. The +/- volume buttons are in the same place as the 4’s, and I’m able to adjust volume from outside the pocket while walking.  Continue reading

‘Big Hero 6’ Delights and Challenges

picture of Harry KellerBy Harry Keller
Editor, Science Education

Only a few true nerds, such as myself, will be at all challenged with Big Hero 6. Let me explain.

Big Hero 6 is about four students at San Fransokyo Institute of Technology (SFIT), the younger brother of a fifth, and a robot. These are the “6” in Big Hero 6. The catch here is that these “super heroes” don’t have mystical powers. Their performance boosts come from technologies that they create.

The lead character is Hiro Hamada (Ryan Potter) who is a wild genius youth who enjoys bot fights instead of the serious business of school. His older brother, Tadashi, tries to dissuade him from wasting all of his talent on underground bot fighting and finally breaks through. He gets Hiro hooked on being a student at SFIT. There’s a catch. SFIT is a robotics-oriented school, and you must show your ability to get in. Hiro must demonstrate his capability to the faculty of the school by showing actual robotics.

How he does so and what happens next set the course for the film. There’s just enough scariness and just sufficient levity associated with it to please school-age children. I’ll be taking my grandsons (aged five and seven) to see this movie two days after it opens and will share their reactions with you then.

The robot member of the six is the most unlikely hero you’ll ever meet. Baymax is voiced perfectly by Scott Adsit. He is a healthcare robot, a nurse, who looks like, as the script puts it, a marshmallow. He is white and squishy — inflated actually. He has a large pot belly and walks like a penguin. This robot is the legacy of Tadashi, his ultimate creation.

Besides Hiro and Baymax, the six include Go Go Tomago (Jamie Chung) who is a speed freak, Wasabi (Damon Wayons Jr.) who has terminal OCD and looks like he spends too much time in the gym, Honey Lemon (Genesis Rodriguez) who seems out of place in a robotics school because her expertise is in chemistry, and Fred (T. J. Miller) who just likes to hang out with the smart kids at SFIT.  Continue reading

The Issue of Part-Time Community College Students

Jim ShimabukuroBy Jim Shimabukuro
Editor

For college students in general, a 2011 survey found that 75% are part-time. Of these, “Even when given twice as long to complete certificates and degrees, no more than a quarter ever make it to graduation day.”1 Another study in 2012, focusing on community college students, found that 59% are part-time. Of these, 42% work more than 30 hours a week, 37% care for dependents 11 or more hours a week, and 40% take evening or weekend classes.2

In comparison to full-time students, part-timers fail at over twice the rate in completing certificate and degree programs. Here’s a breakdown from the 2011 survey:

part-time

Considering their numbers and their low completion rates, it’s a wonder that community colleges continue to do business as usual, with little or no change in practices that date back over half a century.

Thus, I was pleasantly surprised to find, in my college emailbox, an announcement that I’ve been returning to, off and on, for the past few days. It is a call for proposals to address the problem of part-timers. The proposed plan has to either (1) assist part-time students earn 12 credits in an academic year or (2) shorten their time-to-degree. The deadline is close and the form is complicated, so I won’t be submitting a proposal. But I do have some thoughts on this subject.

From a part-time student’s perspective, college is only one of a handful of other responsibilities with higher priorities. S/he has to be able to fit it into her life, and not the other way around. The problem is that colleges are set up for traditional students whose main priority is to complete a program. So, like a square peg, she’s trying to fit into a round hole.

The courses she needs are either filled or offered at a time that’s not convenient for her. Offerings at night or on weekends are slim pickings. Even when she can fit a class in, she finds it difficult to meet deadlines, complete learning activities, or obtain learning assistance. Competing for her time are work and family demands. Furthermore, the commute to campus is all too often time-consuming and, if she drives, the cost of gas and limited parking stalls are an ongoing concern.

The fact that our hypothetical part-timer is among the majority of students who are poorly served should be an incentive to change, from a perspective that’s campus-centered to one that’s student-centered. In other words, colleges ought to be asking, How can we accommodate part-timers with their unique needs?

The title of the 2011 report mentioned above goes to the heart of the problem — “Time Is the Enemy.” The traditional college schedule is the enemy of the part-time student. It’s in one dimension, while part-timers are in another. Put another way, part-timers make up a completely different population that isn’t being served by the colleges as they are now. Put in still another way, part-timers are an open invitation for disruption, for a disruptive approach that will accommodate the needs of a large population of students who are currently being ignored.  Continue reading

Disney Animation Embraces Science

picture of Harry KellerBy Harry Keller
Editor, Science Education

Big Hero 6 marks several firsts for Walt Disney Animation Studios (WDAS). It’s their first action animation with six action sequences. Previous animated movies had two or three. It’s the first WDAS movie to use the new Hyperion system that makes light much more real than ever before. The computer has 55,000 cores and resides in four separate locations.

It’s the first WDAS movie to have six major characters, actually twelve if you count their super alter-egos. It’s the first time WDAS has teamed with the XPRIZE Foundation to create a prize for students. If they win, they will be at the premier in Los Angeles on November 7 and walk the red carpet.

However, these are not the breakthroughs that excite me. This is the first time that the producer, Roy Conli, and the directors, Don Hall and Chris Williams, decided at the outset that this movie would be grounded in reality, that the science would be right. If the story group came to them during the four years that elapsed since the idea first was considered with a story idea that broke the rules of nature, they said no.

However, they did not hesitate in pushing the limits of technology. In some scenes, the g forces would have caused blackouts for real people. If you’re willing to overlook these small violations of the laws of nature and enjoy the ways in which the boundaries of technology are tested, you’re in for a treat. My day at WDAS provided me with only a few short sequences, the longest being 16 minutes, but it showed enough to convince me that this movie is breaking new ground.

Teachers, ask your students what they think about soft (and inflatable) robots? Can anyone create microbots in the real world? How can you do that? What about mental control over robots? Could you have plasma gloves or magnesium fire spitting costumes? Can robotics someday make anyone into a super hero? Explore the science.

Of course, there’s a story here and lots of heart. It’s Disney, after all. And, if you love action adventure as well as animated feature movies, this may be your lucky day.

I really like that science overrides fantasy in this movie. I only wish I had been there to point out places where the boundaries were pushed a bit far and make sure that they did so for good reasons.

The technology behind this movie is another story in itself. Never have so many extras appeared in scenes in an animated movie. It has over 500 different types of extra characters who can appear in the thousands when necessary with each doing its own thing. The city of San Fransokyo was modeled on San Francisco using the assessor records for the city so that you can find the plot where any real house sits, although that house may not look exactly like the real one but will look like homes in the neighborhood. Altogether, about 83,000 individual buildings were created in their external entirety for this movie. The underwater sequence that I saw was amazingly realistic. And so it goes. It took a large team, including 90 animators, two years to make this movie.

For me, a former chemistry professor, seeing one character be a chemist (Honey Lemon) with a sort-of Periodic Table emblazoned on her purse was cool. But, the Table is active, and she presses the element buttons to make incredible compounds really quickly that help to conquer the bad guy or save the good guys. While this purse is not very likely, the stuff it makes is very well animated and looks very real.

Once I’ve seen the movie, I hope to return to these pages with a deeper review of the science and technology that we all can discuss.

The XPRIZE Innovation Competitions

picture of Harry KellerBy Harry Keller
Editor, Science Education

The XPRIZE Foundation is a nonprofit with the purpose of accelerating innovation to solve the world’s most difficult problems. Energy, ocean health, transportation, and space are just a few of the areas that the XPRIZE competitions intend to affect.

If you teach science, you can watch for announcements of new XPRIZEs and use the information to spark the interest of your students in various areas of science and engineering. Have them research the ideas and come up with their own plans for meeting the challenges.

Recent announcements include the Google Lunar XPRIZE, the Tricorder XPRIZE, and the Wendy Schmidt Ocean Health XPRIZE. A quick Internet search will provide you with the details for each, including team selection for those competitions that have progressed to that stage. Millions of dollars are at stake. The Lunar prize has total awards of $30 million.

The Ocean Health XPRIZE will create pH sensor technology to measure ocean acidification across thousands of miles of ocean. You can introduce a great deal of chemical and biological science by investigating this challenge just as though your class were competing.

The Tricorder challenge seeks to make a health sensor like those in the well known Star Trek television series of the 1960s. Ten teams have been selected and are taking ten different approaches to the problem. Just having your classes evaluate each team’s ideas would be a great project. Which will win?

Of interest to those who are not science teachers is the learning category. No prizes have been officially announced yet. Unofficially, the first learning prizes will focus on literacy and will require low-cost and effectiveness to win.

Universal education made possible by technological innovation is a recurrent theme of the Educational Technology and Change Journal. Which areas of technology are already well developed, and which are far behind and must be boosted? The XPRIZE Foundation has a great number of expert advisers to help make those decisions. Will they make the right ones?

I will be following developments closely.