Thursday, March 29, 2018

Jaime Donally on Transporting Learning and Teaching into the Age of Immersive Technologies

In this interview, Jaime Donally talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by about her book, Learning Transported: Augmented, Virtual and Mixed Realityfor All Classrooms.

“I want teachers to know that these are the tools that we have for today, not someday.” ~Jaime Donally

One of the aspects that educators need to learn and grow in is the use of technology in the classroom which, Jaime notes, is more for the student than for anyone else. Jaime herself has been involved in instructional technology for several years, even before it became popular, working as a resource person and trainer with educators who implement and become familiar with how to use technology in teaching.

Jaime never gave much thought to writing a book, but she had a lot of material to work with. Learning Transported stemmed from the people she worked with asking for something “in black and white” which they could refer to after she had met with them. A representative from the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) then spoke with her about the possibility of writing a book on technology, and while Jaime originally thought that she would be supporting a writer who would do it, it dawned on her that the ISTE representative had her in mind as the book’s author. When asked if she would write the book, Jaime said, “Yes,” and the book sprang from there. Learning Transported covers aspects of technology “beyond the wow,” covering the immersive tools available at present. Being a practical person while doing things that aren’t the norm is part of Jaime’s personality, and this shows in the book, as it isn’t a “standard” book but also includes things to maintain a reader’s interest, complemented by lesson plans she designed herself and other tools to engage the reader.

ISTE is, according to Jaime, an international organization that focuses on integrating technology into education, and it conducts a yearly conference in the US. It has released standards for interactive technology, and the standards related to education revolve around enabling students to own their own learning and their creativity, thereby empowering them from just being students spoon-fed with information.

Jaime discusses the newly envisioned 2016-2017 ISTE standards in Learning Transported as well as various issues, such as why the technology is necessary and the importance of having such resources. Her book also reveals other aspects of technology which aren’t common knowledge to the public, giving information on the true depth and breadth of the technologies available. Jaime points out that such games as the popular video game Pokemon Go, which came out in 2016 and enabled participants to travel around the real world in order to capture virtual creatures, have brought awareness to such things as augmented reality to the public, and that its potential is far greater than what is commonly known.

Jaime Donally defines three kinds of immersive technology as follows:
  • Augmented reality is the kind highlighted by the aforementioned Pokemon Go game, where a digital world is superimposed on the real world through a technological device.
  • Virtual reality is a purely digital reality which allows the participant to look around in a world or reality other than that of the real world, moving, seeing and experiencing that world in the same way one would the real world.
  • Mixed reality is a takeoff from augmented reality, where the digital images can move in the real world as if it’s an actual object. The process is based on the computer’s recognition of both the image as an object that influences the lighting in the place where it is superimposed.
Jaime remarks that learning is done in three dimensions, and learning in augmented, virtual and mixed realities enables them to learn and create more naturally. She notes that a lot of money is going into developing interactive technologies and that, some years back, it wasn’t a topic of discussion amongst educators, unlike the way it is at present. Jaime notes that, at present, immersive technology is still not mature, and that “pockets” of interactive technologies are what exist at the present, rather than a widespread or mainstream use. Companies presently use interactive technology far more than schools do, and Jaime admits that education does lag where technology use is concerned.

Jaime notes that the term “disruptive technology” is what’s most often associated with interactive technology, and while she acknowledges the fear that educators have when embracing a new system, she also remarks that educators need to keep the students’ interests in mind. Interactive technology should, according to Jaime, match up with the skills and ways students would ultimately need to have and learn to succeed in life. Jaime notes that interactive technology will enable students to “own” their learning and unleash the students’ creative instincts, which would turn educators from being mere information feeders to facilitators who guide students in exploring their learning and creativity, giving them the freedom to become creators and producers of their own content. This is reflective of what is embodied by the new ISTE Standards which is very clear in the preamble:

The 2016 ISTE Standards for Students emphasize the skills and qualities we want for students, enabling them to engage and thrive in a connected, digital world… The reward, however, will be educators who skillfully mentor and inspire students to amplify learning with technology and challenge them to be agents of their own learning.”

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Martha Howard, M.D. Reveals the Secret to Being Alive and Well

In this interview, Martha Howard, M.D., talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by about her book, Alive and Well: Your Survival Guide for the Health Care Apocalypse.

“I’d like to see the generation of my grandchildren be as healthy as the adults were when I was a kid in the 1940s.” ~Dr. Martha Howard

Throughout the years of practicing medicine and seeing so many unwell patients, Dr. Howard found herself wondering what happened to health care in the United States, particularly when she compared how healthy, energetic and slim people were when she was a child in the 1940s. According to her, one in three people in the United States is obese; six out of ten people have at least one chronic illness, and a sizeable proportion of these have more than one chronic illness. (Chronic illnesses, according to Dr. Howard, are due to vitamin and mineral deficiencies, and covers such things as allergies, arthritis, Alzheimer’s, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, lung disease and pulmonary disease.) This made her think about what could be done about the present state, and her book, Alive and Well sprang from all the research she did.

Alive and Well is a “make it happen” book, according to Dr. Howard, and while around forty pages of the book are related to what she sees as what is wrong with the state of the health industry in the United States, the rest of the nearly four hundred pages are dedicated to her recommendations of what to do when one has particular health concerns. Her recommendations are based on 35 years of practice and thousands of patients and are ones which have worked.

Dr. Howard became interested in acupuncture when, after she got involved in a car accident, her neck was broken. She went to several doctors who suggested either living with it or taking painkillers, which she was reluctant to do. She then found an acupuncturist who, in three months’ time, fixed her neck, and after that, she apprenticed under the acupuncturist for two years. As she lived in Illinois, however, she couldn’t practice without a medical degree, which was why she went to medical school and got her medical degree at the age of forty-one. Dr. Howard uses “integrative medicine” in her practice, which means that she uses what she considers to be the best of Western and traditional Eastern medicine, those practices which work.

Dr. Howard points out that there are five major “Horsemen” or big market forces in the United States that keep people unhealthy. These Horsemen are:

  • The Medical Industry, rather than the “medical profession.” Dr. Howard points out that a study from Johns Hopkins found that medical misdiagnosis and errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States.
  • Big Pharm, the pharmaceutical industry, which Dr. Howard describes as a “robber baron.” She gave the example of Martin Shkreli, who raised the price of the drug, Daraprim, over fifty times its previously-sold price, and also noted that prices of drugs in the United States cost anywhere from three to six times more than the same drug in Canada and Western European countries.
  • Big Food, which Dr. Howard holds responsible for the obesity epidemic. She noted that the sugar industry, according to an article published in JAMA in September, 2016, in the 1960s, had pushed sugar, despite the fact that it was known to be a factor in coronary heart disease, and paid scientists to show that it was fat that was unhealthy. According to Dr. Howard, the food industry then fell into lockstep, pushing high sugar, low-fat foods as a healthy option, as well as “hijacking” healthy foods with sugar.
  • Big Ag, or, as she calls it, a “master of chemical attack strategies.” Dr. Howard points out that Big Ag’s extensive use of antibiotics endangers people who enter a hospital for an emergency due to this. She also remarks that the chemicals used in agriculture, such as chlorpyriphos, which was originally developed as a nerve gas, can cause brain damage in children.
  • Big Pol, or the politicians whom Dr. Howard calls “profit-mad health care demolition experts.” She stated that big politics has been attempting to destroy the health care system for decades, as well as in specific ways, such as being part of the opioid epidemic. According to Dr. Howard, Big Pharm has paid Big Pol to ensure that punishments for excessive or improper prescription of opioids are light, which results in people being addicted to opioids when they likely wouldn’t have been.

Dr. Howard notes that the diagnostic system is broken, and gave the example of a patient who goes to a doctor with a complaint, such as an irritated bowel. The doctor will then say that the patient does have the complaint he has and then give a drug without figuring out why the patient has that complaint in the first place. Dr. Howard opines that the “clockwork” way of viewing the human body, where healing one part will ensure that the entire mechanism keeps running well, is not appropriate, as the human body is an ecosystem which interacts not only among the various parts within it, but also with the environment around it. This is why she focuses on holistic healing, and gave the example of Dr. Bredesen, who is the director of the Alzheimer’s Disease program at the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine, who undertook a study on treating patients with Alzheimer’s. Dr. Bredesen treated Alzheimer’s holistically, dealing with such aspects as food, sleep, dental hygiene and exercise, rather than just prescribing drugs, and six of the ten people in his study were able to return to work after being forced to leave it because of their condition.

Dr. Howard believes that the biological systems of human beings are still geared to a hunter-gatherer diet, rather than one based on grains, as this was the kind of diet that humanity has lived on for most of its existence. She notes that she had good results with her patients when they undertook the “paleo” diet, which she claims is easy and simple. Where exercise is concerned, Dr. Howard notes that doing interval exercise, which speeds up and slows down one’s heart rate comfortably, is the best kind to do, with twelve to fifteen minutes of exercise, four times a week being sufficient.

In the end, Dr. Howard would like public health in the United States to turn around, and have future generations of children as healthy as children during the time when she was a child.

Purchase from Amazon: Alive and Well: Your Survival Guide for the Health Care Apocalypse by Dr. Martha Howard

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Thomas Moore on Our Lifelong Journey Towards Meaning and Joy

In this interview, Thomas Moore talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by about his book, Ageless Soul: The Lifelong Journey Towards Meaning and Joy.

“There is something very valuable about getting older.” ~Thomas Moore

Author Thomas Moore with Oprah.
Thomas didn’t think he would be a writer, when he was young, as he loved words, and was considering becoming a college professor before taking the path his life eventually took, and is presently writing about the things he likes to write about. Thomas wrote Ageless Soul, which sprang from his book Care of the Soul, which has become a “basic book” from which other books were written, and which he has written, as he is a senior, himself. Ageless Soul is about the inner details of ageing, which doesn’t happen only in old age, and Thomas notes that people who turn from their twenties to their thirties go through a passage in their life. He reframes the subject matter concerned in all of his books, and the process was no different with Ageless Soul, which enabled him to come to some interesting conclusions.

Thomas notes that fear is a natural part of life, but that people shouldn’t get overwhelmed by this and should, rather, acknowledge such fears, as fear and ageing are part of the human experience. He notes that, as people get older, the struggles that they worked with when they were younger get become more settled, and that people can then address the issues that concern their soul, as getting older becomes a better place to be. Thomas acknowledges the physical aspects of getting older and notes that the key is to not view oneself as a merely physical being, which is a materialistic outlook. Making the shift in looking at ourselves as having a spiritual aspect, according to him, helps one to realize that ageing isn’t so bad. Doing this enables one to slow down, become more contemplative and spend time to do nothing as well as to walk and get close to nature, which enables one to get in touch with one’s spirituality.

Thomas notes that “growing older” is different from “ageing and maturing,” giving examples of people who have died young but who have the kind of profound insight and knowledge that is more applicable to one who has lived and entire life and had matured. He notes that people who have grown older but who haven’t matured haven’t had the kind of life experiences necessary to do so and defines ageing as one taking life on, with all its invitations. Such involves change and taking risks, which is something not everyone does.

Thomas went over some of the stages of ageing, which are:

  • The first taste of ageing, which is a realization that one is ageing when one notices a somewhat insignificant event, such as one’s first gray hair or wrinkle;
  • A “heroic mode,” which is the period of life when one “rolls along,” building oneself and one’s family and career;
  • The “empty nest” syndrome, which is when one realizes that one has to change the way one lives;
  • Movement towards thinking about retirement, when one realizes that both retirement and old age are approaching;
  • Being actually old, where a significant shift is felt.

Thomas notes that adjusting to, and accepting, the process enables one to handle the transitions better and helps one live a full life in old age. He remarks that one needs to reflect to get in touch with one’s spiritual self to successfully live in one’s old age and gave such examples as reflecting and connecting with the spirit through art or poetry, without which ageing becomes a sudden shock.

Thomas remarks that the anger that comes out in old age, which could cause one to be considered cantankerous and chronically angry, come from past unsettled issues, which could come from when they were still children, and that this anger is triggered by the realization that the world is changing at a time when they had learned to become effective in the world. The anger also causes other people to become lonely and disconnected with others and the world at large.

Thomas remarks that the experience of connecting with one’s spirituality in one’s old age differs from person to person, and that, in old age, one is looking for something more than just “going to church.” For him, being connected to nature and the arts are doorways that enable one to have a spiritual outlook on life, noting that, when one is retired, one has time to do so. Thomas also notes that, when one is old, one has something to give back, experiences reflected upon, which give the elderly something to say, which can make one a good mentor and which makes one’s life more meaningful. He also notes that youth and age have to remain together in one’s sense of self, which is possible, as well as to be around young people, as doing so enables one to remain flexible.

When interacting with others, Thomas remarks that how he comes across to others is more important than what he actually says to others, which makes others remark to Thomas that he seems younger than he actually is. That said, Thomas acknowledges that there are things he can no longer do physically, as well as that there are other things he can do, in ways where he shows that it is possible to grow older without surrendering to age.

Purchase from Amazon: Ageless Soul: The Lifelong Journey Towards Meaning and Joy by Thomas Moore

Friday, March 9, 2018

Kate Genovese on the Story of Her Athlete Son and His Own Prison of Addiction

In this interview, Kate Genovese talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by about her book, Hat Tricks From Heaven: The Story of an Athlete in His Own Prison of Addiction.

“If you have the ability to get them help, get it, because you may not have another chance.” ~Kate Genovese

Kate has been a nurse for thirty years, and she wrote Hat Tricks From Heaven as a way to help her recover from her grief after the death of her son Geno, who is the person and whose addiction is what the book is all about. She got the title from a hockey term, where a player gets three goals in a game, after which hats are traditionally thrown onto the ice, as such is considered an achievement to note. She might have originally written it to heal, but as she wrote it she realized that it could help out others who are addicted or who know someone who is addicted.

According to Kate, Geno was a charming person who was always happy and who was always wanting to do something fun. He was also sensitive, good at explaining things, athletic, smart, handsome, almost “an empath,” and always willing to help others out, which came naturally. That said, he also had a temper and, as Kate noted in her book, had addictive tendencies even as a child. As a child, he wanted to get into the NHL, and during his days playing both hockey and football got injured, which required medical treatment.

Geno was prescribed percocet when he suffered a knee injury during ninth grade, but Kate and her husband didn’t start to twig on Geno’s addiction until he was seventeen, when, after he was supposed to be fully recovered from shoulder surgery, he insisted on seeing a doctor to prescribe him pain medication. As a nurse, Kate was surprised when the doctor agreed with Geno and prescribed percocet, and while she had misgivings, Kate went along with what the doctor advised. Kate, however, took the precaution of giving the percocet to the school nurse with instructions that she be the one to give it to Geno, which was something that angered Geno so greatly that Kate realized that something was likely going on.

Kate and her husband attempted to keep an eye on Geno after he went to college and moved out, and when Kate asked how he was doing a few times after he played a hockey game she noticed that the pupils of his eyes were constricted to the point of being as thin as a pin was wide - a symptom of having taken narcotics - and that his eyes were somewhat bloodshot. Kate remarked that Geno was taking too many painkillers, but Geno said that he would stop taking painkillers when he stopped playing hockey.

Geno then got a good job and had a steady girlfriend whom he was considering marrying, but at the age of twenty-five Geno called up Kate, who was making less money than he was, for money for his rent. Kate said that Geno said that he had gambling debts - which seemed legitimate, since Kate knew that Geno was addicted to gambling - but it was only around two years after that when Geno’s roommate called her up and said that he and Geno were addicted. The roommate then mentioned that Geno owed him $2,000 and that he, himself, would be going into rehabilitation in California, and while she was somewhat doubtful about the news, as she didn’t know the roommate at all, her husband went to where Geno was, picked him up and brought him home.

Geno might have admitted that he had an addiction and that he needed help, and while he did attempt to go at it alone, through Narcotics Anonymous and counseling, within two weeks’ time, he started getting high again, going to friends’ houses whenever his parents confronted him. Kate then noted that that became the pattern, and along the way Geno lost his girlfriend and his job, when he got into an accident with the company car. Kate and her husband were at a loss, as Geno was almost thirty by that time, with Kate telling Geno that she loved him and hated the disease. Geno only got some restrictions on himself only after he got into trouble with the law, but he eventually overdosed and died from it.

According to Kate, a large change in personality is an obvious symptom of someone who is addicted, stating, as examples, that Geno didn’t care what he looked like and when he once punched the door of his room angrily because he wanted to start a fight, as he apparently couldn’t get the drugs he wanted. Kate mentioned that, for parents, it is okay to check their child’s room while the latter are still living with them, as she remarked that she was likely to have found paraphernalia early on, while Geno hadn’t yet moved out.

Kate recommends that peers who know a peer who might be doing drugs go to the parents or the school guidance counselor or teacher with his concerns. She says that the addicted person should not be left alone, particularly since teenagers don’t realize that, once they are dead, they are dead. For parents, Kate points out that, if the child is not yet of legal age, they can force the child to go into rehab, and she acknowledged that parents who are looking after an addicted child who is of legal age was a lot more difficult. Kate mentioned that she went to Al-Anon meetings, which were support groups for the families and friends of addicts, while her husband had a lot of heart-to-heart talks with Geno - something which Kate remarked was pointless, as addicts only sit around and wait for one to get done before going out for their next fix.

Where the doctor was concerned, Kate said that he should have just said that Geno didn’t need it anymore, and mentioned that laws are presently being discussed to prevent doctors from issuing drugs unnecessarily. Where those in the legal system are concerned, Kate remarks that they need to realize that addiction is a disease which jail time wouldn’t help. Kate remarked that the judge should have put Geno in rehab for thirty days, after which the discussion about what legal consequences he faced would be conducted, so that Geno’s head would, at least, be clear by that time.

When all is said and done, where the book is concerned, Kate wants to have a “sober house” built to house addicts and to help them come to terms with their addiction. She emphasizes that addiction is a disease as it does change the addict’s brain chemistry and structure, and that recovery is possible. Kate notes that Al-Anon is a good place for those who are family and friends of addicts, and that different hospitals hold similar meetings, as there is a lot of stress related where dealing with addicts is concerned. She remarked that exercise helps, and that running and yoga helped her out greatly.

Purchase from Amazon: Hat Tricks From Heaven: The Story of an Athlete in His Own Prison of Addiction by Kate Genovese