Nurses Address Global Health Care Concerns Through Virtual Learning

Brandpoint  |  2016-03-29

(BPT) - People are more connected now than ever before thanks to the globalization of technology, international travel, commerce and industry. But this interconnectedness also means that health concerns, which were once limited to a community, can have a global impact. The Zika virus, the outbreak recently declared a global emergency by the World Health Organization (WHO), is the latest example of a foreign health issue that quickly raised concern within our borders.

Nurses are using the technology that connects us to prepare for this new reality. Through virtual simulation education, they are learning to care for diverse populations and practicing global health scenarios including epidemics, rare illnesses and other infectious diseases.

“Globalization has changed our approach to health care. Viral diseases can spread rapidly, so we have to be ready,” says Dee McGonigle, professor in Chamberlain College of Nursing’s Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree program. “Virtual learning environments provide valuable, interactive education on best practices for patient safety and disease containment in a real-time scenario that mimics real life.”

Dr. McGonigle heads up the college’s 3-D Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). During the Ebola outbreak in 2014, she and several colleagues built the Virtual Ebola Treatment Center (VETC) in Second Life, a virtual world created by its global community of users. In Second Life, users - known as residents - are represented by avatars that can walk, run, sit, stand, fly and interact with other residents.

Chamberlain students learned how to admit and care for Ebola patients by practicing scenarios in the VETC within Second Life. Faculty from the MSN Informatics specialty track facilitated and mentored students through the risk-free virtual learning experience.

Like the Zika virus, the Ebola crisis was a wake-up call that proved how quickly disease can spread and how important it is to be prepared. Seemingly overnight, health care professionals and students nationwide were tasked with developing expertise on a disease that was previously of little concern to U.S. citizens.

“Nurses around the world were looking for answers,” says Dr. McGonigle. “We knew we had the opportunity to build a critical training tool to prepare our students to treat Ebola patients.”

Chamberlain alumna Kellany Cadogan-Noland, now a clinical learning lab specialist at Chamberlain, utilized Second Life for her MSN Informatics Specialty Track nursing project. Second Life nursing projects are designed to help those who cannot complete them in a real-world situation because of geographic or other limitations.

Cadogan-Noland used the VETC to test potential responses to an Ebola outbreak in the United States. She collaborated with mentors around the country to determine which infrastructures and clinical processes - such as clinical dressing locations for hospital staff - were most effective at disease containment. Within weeks of completing her project, the West African outbreak had spread to the United States. Cadogan-Noland and her team adjusted their VETC strategy to implement and test containment plans as they were announced by the WHO.

“I benefitted more from Second Life than I would have through an onsite project because we could adapt the virtual environment to our learning needs so quickly,” Cadogan-Noland says. “I was able to quickly test scenarios through simulations. We couldn’t have accomplished this within such a short timeframe in a brick and mortar facility.”

Chamberlain faculty and students can easily adapt their model of virtual simulation education to address other emerging global health issues like the Zika virus, giving nurses like Cadogan-Noland an extraordinary window to the rest of the world. Dr. McGonigle and other Chamberlain leaders behind the VETC are planning more interprofessional collaboration in the future to explore new innovative applications of the virtual learning experience for their students.

“The quality of virtual learning is continually evolving with enhanced technology and feedback from putting simulation methods into practice,” says Dr. McGonigle. “We have so much more to discover with virtual learning. We are just getting started as we use it this to educate nurses who will go on to transform health care worldwide.”


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Turning Travel Time Into Learning Time With Kids

NewsUSA  |  2016-03-16

Road trips can be a learning opportunity.

(NewsUSA) - Sponsored News - With many parents making plans to get out of town this spring, it’s the perfect time to introduce fun toys that can turn a road trip or visit to Grandma’s house into a learning opportunity.

Whether you’re playing peek-a-boo, singing nursery rhymes or reading a book to your little one, experts suggest that learning through play is imperative to a child’s development.

“Engaging children in play at an early age is incredibly beneficial to their physical and mental development, but it’s important that they’re getting the right kinds of interaction,” said Dr. Lise Eliot, early brain development expert and member of the expert panel at VTech, a world leader in interactive learning toys for all ages.

To help create the right toy for every age, VTech works closely with doctors such as Eliot, as well as its expert panel of early childhood education and development experts to ensure its toys help children meet important milestones. The result is an extensive range of more than 100 baby, infant and preschool learning products that cater to each child’s unique age and stage.

“Learning begins at birth, and babies absorb much more than we realize from their moment-to-moment interactions with the world around them,” said Dr. Eliot. “As parents strive to do what’s best for their child, they can introduce activities that help him or her learn through play. Babies are strongly motivated to reach developmental milestones all by themselves, and toys in VTech’s baby line can encourage them, make learning fun and grow with your little one over those important early years.”

To help discern which toy is right for your child, VTech has taken the guesswork out of the decision with its easy-to-follow milestones guide. The recommendations include some toys that are great for travel, such as:

  • For babies, VTech’s Crinkle & Roar Lion features buttons, sounds and tactile fabrics for little hands to discover, and a baby-safe mirror to help introduce self-awareness. It can be attached to carriers, strollers and more, making it the perfect take-along toy.

  • Infants will love the working Spin & Learn Color Flashlight, which introduces opposites, colors, letters and animals. They can spin the color-changing ring and explore buttons to hear fun melodies, nature sounds or play an interactive game.

  • For long car rides, the Count and Learn Turtle encourages early math skills with toddlers and preschoolers, and lets them explore colors, shapes and instruments. Kids can also exercise their memory and hand-eye coordination skills with a fun repeating sequence game.

For more information, visit www.vtechkids.com/milestones.


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Learning and Attention Issues: A Child's Invisible Struggle

Brandpoint  |  2016-03-16

(BPT) - Suzanne Lang fondly remembers asking her then 5-year-old son, Alec, what he wanted to be for Halloween.

“The king,” he said, beaming.

So they went to the craft store and picked out red velvet and white fur for a cape. Lang made a scepter out of cardboard and spray-painted it gold.

“When I put the crown on his head, he looked at me with big eyes, full of confidence and joy,” she says. “Sadly, I wouldn’t see that look again for many years.”

There had been hints back in preschool that something wasn’t right. Alec’s speech was slightly off. He had trouble in kindergarten with letters and words. But at the same time, he was very bright, creative and inquisitive.

In first grade, things began to unravel. Every day the class would spend time writing in their journals. And every day Alec would try hard but only manage to write one word - and he’d spell it wrong, too.

School became unbearable for him. He began chewing through pencil erasers. He’d come home after school yelling or crying, feeling frustrated and overwhelmed. In third grade, when his school evaluated him, he told the staff he was “stupid,” even though the evaluation found he actually had a very high IQ.

“My little ‘king’ seemed so far away,” Lang noted.

Eventually, the Lang family discovered that Alec had dyslexia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). These issues aren’t uncommon: one in five children struggle with brain-based issues related to reading, math, writing, attention and organization.

“Back then, all I knew was that I needed to start looking for ways to help my son,” Lang says. “But I hit a roadblock I never expected; few parents wanted to open up to me about their children’s struggles.”

It’s an uncomfortable subject, after all. It’s also invisible - no one can tell by looking at a child that he can’t read or write.

“I turned to the Internet, but it was beyond frustrating. Most websites were full of confusing education jargon. And if I found a site I liked, I kept wondering, ‘Can I really trust this information?’”

Lang spent countless hours tracking down experts, eventually finding a reading specialist named Margie Gillis.

“She helped us understand two very important things: why my son was struggling and how I could help him,” Lang says.

That knowledge marked a turning point for the Langs. They found a middle school that gave Alec the chance to meet other kids with learning and attention issues. This helped build his confidence and gave him a sense of community.

“I remember him saying, ‘I never thought there were so many people like me,’” Suzanne says.

Once he had the kind of instruction and support he needed, Alec started to make progress. By the end of middle school, he even started talking about wanting to go to college.

“Even as Alec started to thrive, a sadness came over me,” Lang says. “I thought, ‘How many other parents are out there looking for answers?’”

That’s when she embarked on a new mission - to help other parents whose children have learning and attention issues. That journey led her to join the team at Understood.org, a comprehensive resource that empowers parents of kids with learning and attention issues.

Understood was created by 15 nonprofits that care deeply about kids with learning and attention issues. Its mission is to empower parents with clear explanations and practical advice about learning and attention issues. This powerful new resource offers parents daily access to experts, personalized support and connection to other parents in a safe online community. One of the site’s interactive tools, Through Your Child’s Eyes, allows parents to experience the challenges of living with learning and attention issues, like ADHD or dyslexia. All for free.

“Understood launched in October 2014, and my greatest hope is that it becomes a lifeline to every parent who is looking for answers,” Lang says.

Alec is now a college freshman studying engineering. He’s on the dean’s list and is thinking about what he’ll do after graduation.

“I asked him when he visited over spring break if he knew what he wanted to do, having so many options,” Lang says.

While Alec doesn’t exactly know yet, he did let his mother know that he wanted to do something cutting edge - something that will “change the world.”

“He was confident, almost beaming,” she says.

Her “king” was back.


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Want to Create a Bookworm? Start Reading Early and Often

NewsUSA  |  2016-03-15

Celebrate National Reading Month with LeVar Burton and Reading Rainbow.

(NewsUSA) - Sponsored News - Most parents know the best way to get kids to read later in life is to read to them early and often. But even parents' best efforts to create bookworms sometimes fall flat -- especially in today's world of lights and action best seen from a screen.

Yet, studies continue to suggest that the benefits of reading from an early age not only teach kids the rules of syntax and expand their vocabulary, but, according to one study released last year, also activate the part of the brain that allows them to understand the meaning of language.

Because of its interest in closing the reading gap among children in this country, RRKidz Inc., home of the beloved children's brand Reading Rainbow, embarked on a Kickstarter campaign in the summer of 2014. Through generous donations by its legions of fans, the company raised more than $6.4 million in 35 days.

As a result, Skybrary Family, the award-winning digital library of books and videos, was released. On the heels of this successful introduction, RRKidz Inc. is proud to announce the launch of Skybrary School, an educator-specific version with features designed to increase reading frequency and build literacy skills.

This new digital library, especially for early elementary school students (K-3) and their educators, offers close to 1,000 fiction and non-fiction books, all in the hopes of creating life-long readers and learners.

"Teachers devote their lives to giving students the tools needed to succeed in reading, and we want to make sure we are doing the same for them," said LeVar Burton. "With Reading Rainbow's Skybrary Family and now Skybrary School, we are offering a comprehensive solution to assist both educators and parents in providing engaging and relevant content to develop children's literacy and learning skills."

In addition, the service features more than 200 educational video field trips hosted by Burton, such as a trip to the White House, peeking inside the Mars Rover at NASA, behind the scenes at Cirque du Soleil and other locations. Other benefits to Skybrary School include:

  • Working with acclaimed publishers such as National Geographic and Britannica to discover books that meet children's interest and reading level

  • Forty standards-aligned, themed lesson plans inspired by books and videos in the library

  • Instructional programs with flexible online and offline activities

  • A web-based subscription service with on-demand access to read and learn anytime, anywhere

  • New books and videos added to the service every week

RRKidz Inc. is also giving Skybrary School to 10,000 classrooms nationwide for free.

For more information, please visit www.readingrainbow.com.


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3 Tips to Land a Job After College

Brandpoint  |  2016-03-08

(BPT) - America’s unemployment rate recently hit its lowest level in seven years. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, that’s just in time for 2.8 million graduates with bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees to enter the workforce.

However, a college degree does not always lead to gainful employment. Millennials make up 40 percent of the unemployed in the United States, according to Anthony Carnavale, a director and research professor at Georgetown University’s Center on Education and Workforce.

Now, more than ever, it is imperative that students select a college or university with the resources to land them a job. While it is important to consider proximity, cost, accreditation and atmosphere, you also want to keep the end goal in mind - a career.

So what else should you look at when researching a school?

1. Make meaningful industry connections.

It’s all about connections in today’s job hunts, and it’s likely the same will be true for the class of 2020 and beyond. In fact, 80 percent of jobs aren’t advertised according to Steven Rothberg, founder of CollegeRecruiter.com.

A search on a university’s LinkedIn page will reveal the cities, companies and industries in which alumni work. Access to a strong alumni network will help prepare students for a career by opening doors to internships and jobs.

A network of trusted and connected professors is equally as important as a network of successful alumni. During the campus visit, students should ask about the faculty’s experience and reputation and make introductions early.

2. Gain real world experience.

Today’s employers are on the lookout for students who have found their niche and demonstrated leadership skills in real-world scenarios.

For example, students thinking about a career in engineering should look for schools with programs like EcoCAR 3, a premier collegiate competition grooming the next generation of advanced engineers trained across disciplines - from engineering to marketing. Public relations majors can participate in the Bateman Case Study Competition, where college teams create and implement a full public relations campaign to raise awareness on a selected topic. The National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition offers students interested in information assurance or computer security the opportunity to defend a commercial network against common outside threats.

“More and more we’re seeing today’s top companies request students from our program because they’ve gained the hands-on experience that the classroom doesn’t offer,” says Kristen De La Rosa, EcoCAR 3 program director at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory. “We give students the opportunity gain access to millions of dollars of cutting-edge technology and top industry experts to solve complex engineering and marketing challenges. For this reason, almost 100 percent of our participants land a job immediately after graduation.”

3. Position yourself close to the action.

While a beautiful campus is nice to look at, that alone isn’t enough to justify years of time and money. It helps to be close to an industry hot-spot where internship and volunteer opportunities are plentiful and easy to access.

Studying near industry hubs will help students gain access to mentors, networking events and international conferences, furthering their competitive advantage and adding value to their degree.

Tech-savvy students who dream of launching the next big start-up should position themselves near the action in Silicon Valley, Boston or Austin. For those looking to create the next head-turning design it is best to study fashion and design in New York City or Los Angeles.

Physical proximity to an industry, participation in extracurricular activities and third-party recommendations can help make a student’s dream career a reality. Parents and high schoolers should keep these tips in mind throughout the college application process to make the most of college and hopefully land that first job.


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Relax and Engage: 4 Ways to Learn On Vacation

Brandpoint  |  2016-03-08

Students at the Sailing School at Chautauqua Institution.

(BPT) - With busy schedules and jam packed to-do lists, people often view vacations as a time to simply lounge by the beach and soak up the sun. And while that may sound like paradise, when was the last time you truly pursued a passion, goal or curiosity?

Vacation is a great time to take your goals and passions off the back burner. A learning vacation can help you reclaim old interests and discover places you never knew existed. One of the best learning vacation destinations is in western New York State. Home of Chautauqua Institution and many other learning venues, it’s a place to both relax and grow your mind. Whether you’re traveling with family, friends or all on your own, here are some of the best ways to learn on vacation:

Find a destination focused on education

Instead of booking a flight to your ordinary vacation spot, why not try somewhere new? Take an adventure to a destination known for learning. The Chautauqua Institution is known for its life-long and vacation learning program. This educational center founded in 1874 on Chautauqua Lake features 750 acres of historic buildings, vacation homes and cottages, the grand Athenaeum Hotel and a nine-week summer schedule filled with learning opportunities for all ages. Nearby, the City of Jamestown is home to the Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History, the Robert H. Jackson Center for Justice and the Lucille Ball - Desi Arnaz Center for Comedy.

Go somewhere to learn a new activity

Is there a sport, activity or hobby you’ve always wanted to try? If you’re interested in birds or nature, choose to vacation in a place with recreational trails and nature gardens. If you’ve always wanted to give skiing or snowboarding a shot, find a resort like Peek’n Peak Resort in Chautauqua County with learning academies focused on winter sports as well as golf. From sailing and kayaking to fly fishing and stand up paddling, the possibilities are endless for what you can learn in western New York.

Be adventurous with food and drink

Make a point to try a dish you’ve never tasted at least once per day on your vacation. Challenge yourself to get out of your comfort zone and taste the local cuisine. Wherever you’re staying, ask for recommendations on which restaurants to check out. You could even poll some locals to find the best places to go for coffee, and any other must-visit places. Wine enthusiasts can research local wineries to schedule tours and tastings to discover a new favorite and learn how it’s made. Lake Erie Wine Country has several wineries, events and attractions to keep you informed and entertained while relaxing on vacation.

Make travel friends

Traveling gives you the opportunity to meet people from all over the world. Strike up a conversation with the couple or family next to you at lunch and you could end up making some life-long friendships. Staying in a locally owned hotel or bed and breakfast can also be easy ways to interact with new people on a daily basis. Look for dining and sight-seeing partners; you never know who you’ll meet.

Put a fresh spin on your vacation planning this year. Design a learning vacation, enjoy new experiences and return home feeling revived and refreshed. For more information and educational ideas, visit www.tourchautauqua.com.


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Fostering Your Child's Love for Science Could 'STEM' the Tide of Job Shortages

Brandpoint  |  2016-02-18

Finalists of the Young Scientist Challenge solve a problem through science.

(BPT) - Middle school is a make-or-break time for budding scientists.

The subject matter gets more difficult, test anxiety often occurs and other interests emerge. U.S. students rank 27th in math and 20th in science out of 34 countries scored, according to the latest research from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. That lagging interest in STEM - science, technology, engineering and mathematics - is contributing to an ongoing U.S. shortage of highly-skilled workers that may reach 3 million by 2018.

3M, a company rooted in science, understands the need for the next generation of science innovators, inventors and leaders. For decades, 3M scientists and engineers have developed products that solve problems and improve lives. A shortage of STEM-savvy workers will slow innovation across all industries.

If your child has a passion for science, encourage their curiosity. Here are some ideas from 3M science experts on how to further foster a love of science:

1. Find an after school program or STEM mentor.

A high-quality STEM after school program leads to improved attitudes toward STEM fields and careers; increased STEM knowledge and skills; and higher likelihood of pursuing a STEM major in college according to a study from the Afterschool Alliance. Another option is to find a mentor. Teachers, college students and working professionals are often eager to share their knowledge with budding young scientists. Many universities and businesses encourage mentorship, and your school's science teachers might have some suggestions on where to find one that's right for your child.

2. Plan at home experiments.

According to 3M science mentors, taking science out of a book and applying it to real life is one of the best ways to spark an interest in science. You can find plenty of science experiments to conduct inside your home. A great resource is www.scienceofeverydaylife.com, which features fun activities that explain science principles, like how solar energy works by cooking a pizza with the sun or how chemical reactions function by making homemade ice cream.

3. Encourage exploration.

As interest grows, students are eager for more challenges. For instance, with the Summer Olympics on the horizon this year, a sport-loving student may want to explore more about the forces that impact gold medal-quality swimming, running or cycling. Linking science to another interest can further their passion.

4. Give them a challenge.

A range of opportunities exist for interested students at science-based summer camps, after school programs or fairs. If your child is already on a path of science experimentation and innovation, consider encouraging him or her to enter science challenges and competitions. Each year 3M and Discovery Education partner to develop the Young Scientist Challenge. Students in grades 5-8 can enter the contest by creating a one to two-minute video on a proposed solution to solve an everyday problem. All video entries must be submitted online at www.youngscientistchallenge.com by April 20, 2016.

5. Hit the road.

Going to an observatory or space museum is fun, but also a major learning opportunity. Before taking the trip, view the destination's website with your child and identify areas of particular interest. That will build anticipation and really amplify the visit.

Over its nine years of involvement in the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge, 3M has seen the tremendous impact a parent, family member or mentor can make in a child's curiosity and confidence in science. That foundation yields strong critical thinking skills and opens the door for rewarding career opportunities with lasting benefits.


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