Beginning last October, thousands of students from around the globe began studying at Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) in a totally new way. They studied biostatistics and epidemiology, the building blocks of public health research, at home or in cafés, at any time of day or night, for a few minutes at a time or for hours at a time—as part of HSPH’s first-ever course offered through edX, the online education platform.The course—“Health in Numbers: Quantitative Methods in Clinical and Public Health Research” (PH207x)— was taught by Marcello Pagano, professor of statistical computing, and E. Francis Cook, professor of epidemiology. Both were thrilled with the response to the course.“We were able to keep a huge number of people interested enough in the topics to stay with us for about three months and they spent, on average, about 12 hours a week on the course,” said Pagano.David Hunter, HSPH dean for academic affairs, said that the enthusiastic participation of HSPH in EdX was aimed both at increasing the numbers of trained public health workers around the world and at improving teaching in the School’s residential degree programs.“Online teaching not only increases our global reach, but it provides materials and methods that we hope will make classes at HSPH more flexible and student-centered,” Hunter said. He said the next priority is to have the other elements of the core master of public health curriculum available in edX format. Read Full Story
Read Full Story Levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere rise and fall annually as plants take up the gas in spring and summer and release it in fall and winter through photosynthesis and respiration. Now the range of that cycle is growing as more CO2 is emitted from the burning of fossil fuels and other human activities, according to a study led by Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego.The findings are the result of a multiyear airborne survey of atmospheric chemistry called HIAPER Pole-to-Pole Observations (HIPPO). Steven C. Wofsy, Abbott Lawrence Rotch Professor of Atmospheric and Environmental Science at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), is lead principal investigator of the HIPPO project. HIPPO research flights from the Arctic to the Antarctic produced an unprecedented portrait of greenhouse gases and particles in the atmosphere, the first detailed three-dimensional mapping of the global distribution of gases and particles that affect Earth’s climate.Observations of atmospheric CO2 made at altitudes between 3 and 6 kilometers (10,000–20,000 feet) show that seasonal CO2 variations have substantially increased in amplitude over the past 50 years. The amplitude increased by roughly 50 percent across high latitude regions north of 45°N, in comparison to previous aircraft observations from the late 1950s and early 1960s.This means that more carbon is accumulating in forests and other vegetation and soils in the Northern Hemisphere during the summer, and more carbon is being released in the fall and winter.
Fans of college basketball who compete with friends to pick winners during March Madness each year need only look to their iPhones for an easier bracket-sharing system. Tom Klimek, manager of network design for the Office of Information Technology, launched the application “Men’s Bracket 2012 College Basketball Tournament” earlier this month. The app is his third men’s basketball March Madness bracket system for the iPad and iPhone. Klimek said the application eliminates the hassle of manually filling out, and tracking a March Madness bracket. “Instead of everybody having to fill out paper copies of a bracket and then give it to somebody to keep track of, you can just download the app, create your own pool, invite your friends and all the scoring is done automatically,” Klimek said. Klimek said both the men’s and women’s bracket applications he developed with his business partner Peter Massey have been extremely successful, breaking the top-10 paid sports applications within 24 hours of their releases. Klimek said he attributes the success of the applications to a process of constant dialogue with customers. “I think the success is due to listening to our customers,” Klimek said. “Also, we’re basketball enthusiasts ourselves, so we try to put everything in the apps that we know we would want ourselves.” Klimek said he and Massey decided not to advertise this year’s application since past promotions have shown little increase in sales. “It seems that most of our apps are found by people who are just searching for an app on their phone, instead of by people looking for a specific app after viewing an advertisement,” Klimek said. Klimek said numerous journals and consumer reports have reviewed their applications, and Microsoft even approached them to do business. “They wanted to do a men’s bracket app for the Windows 7 phone, which we felt we didn’t have the time to do,” Klimek said. “But it was still nice to be recognized by such a big company.” Klimek this year’s tournament has been a rough one though, with his championship pick of Syracuse failing to pan out. “My fourteen year-old daughter picked a much better bracket than mine,” Klimek said. “She picked Kentucky to win it all.”
Poland’s coal-related mercury emissions revised upward, significantly FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享MetaMag:Polish coal-fired power plants may be cheating the European Union when reporting their toxic mercury emissions, Gazeta Wyborcza reports. As a result, a huge year-on-year increase in emissions from Europe’s biggest coal plant may be even higher than first thought.Last month META broke the story that mercury emission from Polish coal had jumped by more than 87.5% in just one year. EU data showed emissions from the giant Bełchatów plant in central Poland were eighteen times higher in 2016 than the previous year. Now a Gazeta Wyborcza story published last week has claimed that the mercury emissions for 2016 – reported as an enormous 2.82 tonnes – could in reality be even higher. The paper was shown emissions monitoring data that experts said point to mercury emissions of closer to 4.2 tonnes – 1.5 tonnes more than reported.Mercury is a dangerous neurotoxin which damages human health and can destroy lives. Europe has committed to the Minamata Convention to phase out and limit mercury emissions from human sources and the EU’s Mercury Regulation was adopted last year. Across Europe burning coal is the single biggest source of mercury pollution entering the air. It is often carried over long distances and finds its way into the food-chain through bioaccumulation in large fish.Pressure grew on plant owner PGE to explain the discrepancy as campaigners explained that the increase was due to a new European law that requires the emissions reported to European authorities be based on actual monitoring data. Reported figured were previously estimated. PGE’s estimations for 2015 had been 18 times lower than the reported measured emissions for 2016.After digging deeper into the story, Gazeta Wyborcza reported that even under the new EU monitoring and reporting regime, the plant operators are allowed to take periodic measurements and then declare an average across the year. It is therefore possible that higher measurements were discarded and lower ones used to calculate annual emissions. Wyborcza also said the same practice may be being used by other power stations, including the Pątnów and Turów plants.More: Polish coal may be cheating EU on toxic mercury
Riedl’s training-generation system is called “Scheherazade” after the queen in One Thousand and One Nights who saved her life by telling stories. In response to a user-provided topic, Scheherazade uses crowd sourcing technology to capture stories about a topic from multiple individuals and combines the stories into an integrated situational model that allows the user to make decisions and explore outcomes. Mark Riedl, a 2011 YFA recipient, is an assistant professor of Computer Science at the Georgia Institute of Technology who specializes in the intersection of artificial intelligence, virtual worlds and storytelling. As director of the university’s Entertainment Intelligence Lab, he researches narrative intelligence: the ability to organize and explain the world in terms of stories. Narrative intelligence is crucial for people to tell and understand stories, learn from experiences and operate effectively in the real world. Computers with narrative intelligence could theoretically educate, train, entertain and generally interact with humans the way people naturally interact with each other. “One of DARPA’s goals with the Young Faculty Awards program is to find common ground between university-led basic research and defense needs. The approach Mark is taking with crowdsourcing narratives could help DoD to better leverage the experiences of its warfighters in developing new training tools,” said William Casebeer, DARPA program manager. “Narratives can contain a great deal of collective wisdom about how events unfold and how you can shape the course of the story with your actions and reactions. Being able to tap that collective wisdom using crowdsourcing with those who have important training and operational experiences is critical.” Riedl used the hypothetical scenario of a bank robbery as a test case for collecting stories and generating a plot graph. In the example, a would-be bank robber named John (1) drives to the bank, (2) enters the bank, and then, (3) faced with a plot decision, either sees Sally (the bank teller), waits in line or scans the bank. At such decision points, the narrative can split based on which actions the contributors agreed would follow as a result of the player’s choice. John and Sally’s interactions unfold through a series of such decision points until, as all of the narrative lines agree, John ultimately leaves the bank, at which point he is either arrested or gets away, and the story concludes. Riedl has focused his research on understanding basic, cultural situations, such as going to a restaurant, going to a movie theater, or catching an airplane. These scenarios are currently presented to users as a series of text-based questions and sets of answers. In the future, he envisions rapidly constructing training simulations for complex, mission-oriented scenarios, presented as three-dimensional visualizations. Participating warfighters could record their stories into the system within days or even hours after the experience. Their collective knowledge could benefit, for example, a soldier on foot patrol in an unfamiliar culture. Narratives detailing common mistakes in social interaction could prevent that soldier from misinterpreting intent in a tense situation. A branch in such a narrative might detail the unintended consequences—such as a failure to collect important information that might save lives later—stemming from an unintended social slight. To help overcome these challenges and improve the viability of online cultural training, one of the academic researchers receiving mentorship and funding through DARPA’s Young Faculty Awards (YFA) program has developed a computer system that can automatically parse and aggregate people’s stories about a given topic and reconstruct variations of those experiences. The outputs are interactive training simulations similar to role-playing videogames or choose-your-own-adventure books. By Dialogo June 19, 2013 Scheherazade works by collecting human experiences on a specific topic in linear narrative form and building a generalized model about the topic domain using plot graphs. It can handle any topic for which people generally agree on the main events that should occur, although not necessarily on the specific sequence of events. The system instructs contributors to segment their narratives to avoid complex linguistic structures, and form sentences that contain only one event and one verb. The system then analyzes the narrative examples to identify consensus among primitive plot points, and clusters them based on semantic similarity to create plot events that unfold sequentially until a decision point is reached, at which point a new line of plot events and decision points is triggered. The process is described in detail in Riedl’s paper on “Story Generation with Crowdsourced Plot Graphs.” The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq demonstrate the strategic significance of tactical actions by junior and noncommissioned officers who interact with local populations. This kind of interaction benefits from extensive cultural training, but opportunities for such training are limited by the compression of the Department of Defense’s force-generation cycles. Virtual training simulations provide a partial solution by offering warfighters on-demand, computer-based training, but creating such tools currently requires substantial investments of time, money and skilled personnel. Because some plot events cannot logically co-occur in a single narrative, the system identifies mutual exclusion between plot events. In the bank robbery scenario, mutual exclusions include pulling a gun versus handing a note, using a bag versus handling money directly, or escaping versus being caught.
Your company needs every advantage to survive and thrive, and having a healthy organizational culture is a prime competitive advantage. It’s hard to imagine but your organization’s success, and perhaps its very survival, will be determined in large part by its culture. A healthy culture provides a stable platform for employees to be productive, while they learn what is required of them to prepare for the tsunami changes ahead. Dramatic change is on the business horizon. Not just change that is visible, but change that is beyond the field of vision. Leadership’s responsibility includes preparing the organization for continuous and disruptive change. While the precise impact is difficult to predict, disruption on a large scale is clearly expected.Advancement in technology is a prime cause of change, but not the only one. Technology is upending the relative value of the various skills of your employees. Skills valued yesterday may not be valued or needed today or in the future. Artificial intelligence (AI), in particular, is changing the contours of the modern workplace, and it is often fundamental to modern innovation. For example, consider that Google is exploring ways to respond to a shortage of AI experts through a goal to have a few experts help many other non-AI-experts build their own AI software. It is exploring artificially intelligent machines that can develop other artificially intelligent devices in an effort to expand the reach of AI. The result would be a lot fewer expert human resources needed in this advanced field. Imagine the disruption as AI becomes more ubiquitous. What impact will this advance have on today’s skilled and unskilled jobs? And on your entire organization? One can envision countless alternative futures for which your organization must prepare. Effective leaders rethink disruption through the lens of opportunity. They seek ways to engage the workforce to use the tools of technology in alignment with organizational strategy. But to really work, the organizational culture must support the effort.A healthy culture is a learning culture, in which the entire organization has clarity of values. The expected behaviors are defined and well communicated, especially the value of adaptive learning, to give your people the tools needed to develop and grow. The tools may include in-person and digital learning platforms, mentoring and coaching, employee time that is specifically and directly allocated to learning new skills and achieving new capabilities – with a focus on skills and abilities to prepare the organization for the future. These actions lead to more engaged, loyal, and satisfied employees, who are more creative, innovative and productive. Those organizations that focus on creating this type of culture have significantly lower turnover and are evangelists for recruiting the best talent. Organizations with healthy cultures outperform the competition, experience higher earnings, and surpass industry benchmarks for return on investment.Effective leaders integrate culture into their management and board conversations about strategy, risk, and performance. When management implements strategies with conscious attention to the effect on employees and the organizational culture, it creates the employee engagement and loyalty that is so critical for value creation. To quote a recent NACD Report, Culture as a Corporate Asset, “if led and managed well, culture is the rocket fuel for delivering value.” 15SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Stuart R. Levine Founded in 1996, Stuart Levine & Associates LLC is an international strategic planning and leadership development company with focus on adding member value by strengthening corporate culture.SL&A … Web: www.Stuartlevine.com Details
Sometimes it can be incredibly difficult to know exactly what to get a loved one for Christmas. With the big day just around the corner, time is running out to come up with the perfect gift idea. Although it may not have the pizazz as the year’s trendiest or most popular present, giving cash this holiday is a surefire winner when it comes to a gratifying gift. But, as easy as it is to just slip some dough in a card, it’s not always safe to simply pass along cash without any protections if it’s stolen or lost. If you decide to give money this year, consider these three safer alternatives to the classic wad of cash.Go old schoolWriting a check may seem like an incredibly old-fashioned way to pay, but it is also safe and convenient. And now with Remote Deposit Capture (RDC) the recipient can easily open up their online banking app, take a photo of the check, and deposit it immediately right from their phone. Additionally, checks require a recipient’s name, so unlike cash that can slip out of a card and be picked up and used by anyone, a check is protected in that the recipient must show identification in order to cash it.Pay onlinePeer-to-peer payments (P2P) have been increasingly popular with the launch of convenient apps such as Venmo, PayPal, and Square. Also, many banks recently picked up the service Zelle allowing consumers to send and receive money between two bank accounts. These new online services are much safer than gifting cash because they are encrypted and are reliable when it comes to resolving unauthorized transactions.Give gift cardsInstead of handing over cash that can be spent on anything, gift cards are a little more personal in that they are geared toward a more specific shopping experience. For example, you know your brother is outdoorsy but you don’t know exactly what he may want or need. Instead of forking over cash, giving him a gift card from an outdoor retailer like REI or Cabelas, shows him you pay attention to his interests. When it comes to protections, if it gift card is lost or stolen anyone can pick it up and use it. But unlike cash that is gone forever, gift cards may be replaced with the help of customer service if the buyer can show proof of purchase including a receipt with the gift card number. 24SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Wendy Moody Wendy Moody is a Senior Editor with CUInsight.com. Wendy works with the editorial team to help edit the content including current news, press releases, jobs and events. She keeps … Web: www.cuinsight.com Details
continue reading » ShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr The availability of funding for small businesses is essential to keeping local economies afloat. In a 2019 Forbes article, writer Nish Acharya notes: “Across America, cities, states, and regions have spent the last decade transforming their economic development strategies to emphasize local entrepreneurship, university partnerships, and local small business support.”That kind of activity extends to credit unions, too.“We have been providing small business loans to the community for more than 20 years,” says Dan Smithson, CEO of Star USA Federal Credit Union ($158.7M, Charleston, WV). “We know firsthand the role these businesses play in our local economy.”Indeed, small businesses play a critical role in local economies. Unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic has forced businesses to close for health and safety concerns, throwing into flux the future of companies, jobs, livelihoods, and communities.
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