October 23, 2017

Extreme Physiology Online Learning

This month’s installment is about something I already did and also about something that I would like to encourage you to do.   Over the course of the past two months I participated in a free online learning opportunity provided by Stanford University.  Along with over 10,000 other students from 144 foreign countries, I “virtually” joined Dr. Ann Friedlander and her dedicated colleagues (notably Corey and the EP101 team) for an interactive course on extreme human physiology.  Entitled Humanities Sciences: EP101 Your Body in the World: Adapting to Your Next Big Adventure, the course presented some of the latest peer reviewed information on how extreme environments impact our bodies (because Dr. Friedlander is an exercise physiologist, she expanded the impact of physiology presentations to explain adaptations and provide strategies to improve athletic performance in environmental extremes).  Through entertaining experiential videos, scripted lectures, expert/experiential interviews, and robust additional reference material, the EP101 course explored and exposed the effects of cold, heat, aging, stress, altitude, and variable pressure on the human body.

The “Course Info” tab on the Stanford site leads with the following:

“Want to climb mountains and fly fighter planes? Want to skydive? Want to travel around the country to meet science experts that generate the knowledge we learn? Want to learn practical physiology about how the body adapts to cold, heat, altitude, stress, age and variable pressure? If so, you have come to the right place.  The course includes six physiology topics organized into six sections. Each section will include a story video, video lectures, expert interviews, and additional materials. The material was designed to be experienced in the order below, and takes approximately five hours per section to complete. However, feel free to experience the material in whatever order, and depth, that you like! Many of our students just watch the story videos, and many complete the whole course. But beware! You might get hooked.”

Perhaps check out the course “preview” video here.  (An alternate link for course registration can be found here.)   While not part of the actual course material, I can assure you that both the “Expert” interview with Jonah Willihnganz (“Storytelling”) and the “Experiential” interview – “Science Communication with Tom McFadden” (as well as a subsequent YouTube view of his “Oxidative It Or Love It/Electron to the Next One“) will perhaps make you think anew about the often perplexing Krebs Cycle … etc., etc.; and, perhaps more importantly, how we convey complex subject matter to our intended audiences —I similarly assure you that the “guts” of this class are significantly higher minded than McFadden’s video(s), but I think viewing some of his material may stimulate some of your own creative juices.

I am recommending this course as a fellow adventurer, explorer, athlete, and human being—feel free to jump around and review what sections interest you and take away some useful “pearls”—again, I think the two interviews highlighted in the introductory material are insightful and offer broad applicability to many disciplines.

While the course is no long “live” (and, as a consequence, instructor and peer discussion is now limited), the material remains available via the Stanford site—note that if you are interested in earning CEU credit for this course (USAT offers 5 hour credits), Dr. Friedlander and her team expect to offer the course again later this year.

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