Author: Regina Rhodes

Training artificial intelligence with artificial X-rays

Artificial intelligence (AI) holds real potential for improving both the speed and accuracy of medical diagnostics. But before clinicians can harness the power of AI to identify conditions in images such as X-rays, they have to ‘teach’ the algorithms what to look for.

Azkals focused on training despite Brit coach pullout

Philippine Azkals

By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
Senior Reporter

THE Philippine national men’s football team remains focused in preparing for big tournaments later this year notwithstanding the recent surprising news of its coach deciding not to continue with his duties.

In a left field move late last week, British Terry Butcher rocked the local football community when he made known his decision to pull out as coach of the Philippine Azkals by way of the UK news agency Press Association.

Named as Azkals coach last June to take over from American Thomas Dooley, Mr. Butcher, in a statement, cited the difficulty in building a “robust plan to meet the football ambitions of the national team and do the country proud,” as the vital issue for his decision to discontinue.

He said it was a tough decision on his part but nonetheless believes the Philippine football program has what it takes to go places and wishes it nothing but the best moving forward.

While saddened by the surprising turn of events, local football officials accepted the decision of Mr. Butcher while expressed commitment to lead and help the Azkals in their preparations for tournaments scheduled for later this year and in early 2019.

“We understand and respect Mr. Terry Butcher’s decision not to continue with his role as National Team coach of the Philippines. As manager of the National Team, I was looking forward to working with Mr. Butcher as we build a strong team for the country’s first Asian Cup. It is unfortunate, however, that Mr. Butcher had expressed difficulty in executing his plans for the national team program. We wish Mr. Butcher well in his future endeavors,” said long-time Azkals manager Dan Palami in a statement following news of Mr. Butcher’s pullout as coach.

Mr. Palami added that they are forging ahead, preparing for the AFF Suzuki Cup which is scheduled for November and the AFC Asian Cup set for January next year, with senior football adviser Scott Cooper taking over the team for now.

The Philippine Football Federation also expressed understanding of Mr. Butcher’s decision and wished him good luck in his future endeavors.

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Seattle Seahawks Training Camp 2018: News and notes from day 9

The Seattle Seahawks returned to the Virginia Mason Athletic Center on Monday, following a day off on Sunday.

Monday’s practice comes on the heels off the team’s annual mock game on Saturday, and officially kicks off the first game week of the 2018 season for the Seahawks. The training wheels are off and preseason preparations are about to be ramped up.

Seattle began the day with more roster news ahead of Monday’s practice, as fullback Khalid Hill was waived with an injury designation, while defensive tackle Lord Adusei-Hyeamang was waived after just two days on the roster. Hill and Adusei-Hyeamang were waived to make room for tight end Je’Ron Hamm and defensive tackle Joey Ivie.

Elsewhere on the roster, cornerback Dontae Johnsonpracticed with the team for the first time on Monday, after starting training camp on the PUP list as he recovered from a broken foot. A roster spot won’t need to be opened up as Johnson already counted towards the 90-man roster.

While Johnson returned to practice, Dion Jordan, Ed Dickson and Clayton Wilson remained on the PUP list. Additionally, Frank Clark remains limited and Doug Baldwin remains out.

Practice Notes

Will Dissly’s Press Conference

  • A singular-focused Will Dissly had his press conference begin with a question about the difference between his expectations coming into camp, and reality: “From a rookie perspective, OTAs was just kind of getting my feet wet. Now my feet are underneath (me) and so we’re just taking it stride-by-stride. I’m not saying it’s perfect, but definitely competing every day and it’s been a lot of fun.”
  • Dissly was then asked if it’s a bigger opportunity than he expected to have: “I was just told to compete. That’s kind of the whole thing about the Seahawks — come in and compete. You work really hard and things can happen.”
  • On how it felt to put on pads on Saturday (in the mock game): “It’s been since January, since I put pads on, so that felt good. First pop was something special, but it’s back to football and everyone’s working really hard, everyone’s growing, so that was awesome.”
  • Asked about his expectations for Thursday night and his home debut: “I’ve only ever practiced at CenturyLink. I’ve never been to a game so I can only imagine what the 12s are like, so I’m excited to experience that. As far as expectations go in the game, we’re just looking to go out and compete, beat the guy across from you, and hopefully we come out on top.”
  • Finally, Dissly was asked about going up against Shaquem Griffin: “Shaquem is fast, man. That 40 was no joke. He’s a special player. One thing I appreciate about him is he’s always coming with a positive attitude. This whole thing is all about energy. Camp gets long and hard, and you see him over there and he’s got a big smile on his face.”

Brown spoke to the media for the first time on Monday, and this post will be updated with quotes of interest from his press conference as it’s made available. The Seahawks return to practice on Tuesday morning, at 10:10 AM.

F45 Training Review: The Australian Workout That’s Taking Over

When I picture Australia, I imagine Steve Irwin wrestling a crocodile at a pool party, while sun-kissed, sexy people dance around in tiny swimwear. The vibe is chill with an underlying sense of intensity: These people can definitely hold a tarantula without flinching—and look good doing it.

That’s not entirely the scene at Aussie-born F45 Training, but based on my experience, the workout embodies the same hybrid of intensity and chill Australia’s known for. Hailing from the country notorious for its ability to abbreviate practically any word, F45 stands for “Functional 45,” referring to the programming of the 45-minute workout. Functional movements mimic everyday life (think: squatting, running, lifting, twisting, pulling), and they’re used in all 31 of the class types offered at F45.

Like a lot of workouts on the market, each class uses stations to combine cardio, interval, and strength training. Also like other workouts, F45 claims to be “the most effective workout method for burning fat and building lean muscle.” None of them are necessarily wrong—studies agree that high-intensity interval training is the way to go if you’re looking to burn calories and gain muscle.

So if interval training in a group fitness setting is nothing new, what’s the big deal?

For starters, they’re growing at an insane pace. While the F45 founders call Australia home, they’ve popped up 350 franchises in the last two-and-a-half years and are now making waves in the U.S. of A, selling 30-50 franchises a month. And celebs like Hugh Jackman and Cardi B have already helped draw attention on social media. Eager to find out what all the hype is about, this Sheila spoke with founder Rob Deutsch—and tried the workout for herself.

My 45

The class before mine was still in session when I checked in on an iPad at the front of the Flatiron studio in New York City. F45 boasts innovative technology as the core of its experience, and as I scanned the studio, I saw that the digital check-in was just the beginning.

Flat screen TVs mounted around the room are responsible for everything from timing intervals to displaying the stats of clients wearing F45-specific heart rate monitors. Two screens showed instructions for rotating from station to station, while two others hosted one of the ripped Australians from my fantasy—I mean, vision—as he demoed each of the workouts.

I tried to get a sneak preview of the program to come, but there were a ton of moves happening at once. Like, a ton. The workout of the day involved 18 different stations that we were going to hit twice, and the moves at each station were to be performed for 35 seconds with 25 seconds to transition to the next.

At F45, both the workouts—which have menacing names like “Romans,” “Bears,” and “Firestorm”—and the playlists are programmed so members never get the same sweat twice. Deutsch explains that the programs are created from a database of more than 3,650 different exercises and an exercise encyclopedia that grows by about 1,000 exercises every year.
Photo of rowers, courtesy of F45 TrainingPhoto: F45 Training

With two coaches per class (three, if you count the TV’s), there’s a lot of guidance in the room—and once class began, I needed every bit of it. The masochist in me signed up for the resistance-based “Renegade” class because the class description claimed my muscles would be “screaming after being superset over and over.” Now, I consider myself to be a very fit human, and I’m usually quick to catch on, but the quickly timed interval structure had me spazzing around the room like a squirrel caught in the middle of the road.

I found the tech to be impressive but overwhelming. Torn between looking at my new boyfriend on the screen for guidance and the station numbers marked on the floor, I scrambled while picking out my weights for the station, knowing I had only 25 seconds to get my sh*t together. I wasn’t quick enough on that station (or the next, or the next), so ended up losing a few precious reps.

“Our technology has enabled us to increase the innovation, which, in turn, maximizes the results,” Deutsch says, and while I’m sure this rings true with regard to the heart rate monitors—à la those at Orangetheory Fitness—I wasn’t wearing one. Not that I didn’t get a good sweat without a heart rate monitor, but I did feel like I was missing out by not having my name up on the TV screen with Kyle and Joan, who were crushing it at 80 percent of their maximum heart rate. (I later learned that you can link up a MyZone3 heart rate band to F45’s “LionHeart” program or you can buy one in-studio—prices vary from location to location, but you can snag one in NYC for a cool $60.)

Let me make it clear that my frustration wasn’t due to a lack of assistance. Thankfully, having multiple coaches in the room not only means there’s always someone around to form-check, but also—in true Aussie form—to shepherd people like me. With some gentle manhandling, I started to get the hang of splitting my focus among the TVs, the floor markings, the coaches, and then, boom—class was over.

Leaving the studio, I felt like I got a decent sweat, but my muscles weren’t screaming as much as my pride was. Seeking revenge, I signed up for “Bears” the following week. I chalk it up to a better work-to-rest ratio (55 seconds of work, 20 seconds of rest in this program) and a practice run under my belt, but I genuinely enjoyed the workout more and felt like it lived up to its 550-calorie burn claim. And the best part? My dignity was restored.

The Community

Aside from the tech and the programming, the studio itself has a sort of rough-and-tumble, no-frills feeling. There’s no juice bar or dim lighting, just a room filled with equipment like rowing machines, sandbags, and bosu balls, and people of all shapes and sizes who seem happy to be there.

In my class, it was clear that people knew each other—the high-fives were flying, and one really enthusiastic guy yelled “LET’S GO!!!” a few times. I was obviously the new kid in class, but we were partnered up for the circuit by the instructor, which eliminated that awkward last-picked feeling.

Photo: F45 TrainingWhen I asked my partner if she came to class often, she told me she was in the middle of F45’s 8 Week Challenge. And she wasn’t alone—a large, weekly calendar near the locker rooms was piled with the kind of stickers you’d give a first-grader for finishing a chapter book.

The 8 Week Challenge also includes an app to connect members outside of the studio. “It’s a complete health ecosystem,” Deutsch says. “It includes knowledge from industry experts, a nutrition program, shopping lists, daily tracking, and support from fellow challenge members across the globe.”

Keep In Mind: It’s a Franchise

I can speak for my experience at F45, but I can’t necessarily speak for yours. As franchises are individually owned, each one will inevitably have its own unique management style and pricing. It’s no surprise that New Yorkers are looking at a $36 per class price-tag compared to the $27 classes in Buckhead, Georgia. And newbies aren’t expected to buy in blindly: I got a buy-one-get-two-free deal in NYC, and this Florida studio offers a week trial for free. Whatever the differences are, Deutsch believes that as a brand they’re filling a gap in the fitness scene left by traditional gyms.

“It’s the space between where people pay a small membership fee to work out on their own and high-cost personal training sessions,” he says. This isn’t a new concept, either, but another option for group fitness lovers never hurts.

Do It Like They Do in Straya

So, should you try it? If you’re looking for a fitness community and a way to log your progress, I say “sure, go for it.” I would, however, seriously advise you to look at the schedule and choose a day when the intervals are longer to avoid my squirrel-in-the-road scenario. Or call the studio and ask for a recommendation for your first class. As your fit friend you’ve never met, trust me: Do as I say, not as I do.

By the looks of it, you might have a chance to try F45 Training in your neck of the woods sooner than later. “We will have 700 franchises sold in the U.S., plus 30 colleges with a studio on campus by the end of 2018, which is a very powerful start to our brand growth abroad,” Deutsch says. Um, deffo, mate.

Jamey Powell is an editorial intern at Greatist, as well as a cycling instructor, yoga teacher, and triathlete. When she isn’t sweating, she’s usually eating or trying to pet someone’s dog. You can follow her antics on Instagram.

Suspect in deadly Toronto van attack dropped out of military training last year after 16 days

The 25-year-old Canadian man accused of mowing down pedestrians with a van in northern Toronto Monday has been charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder and 13 counts of attempted murder.

Alek Minassian, with a stone-faced expression and clad in a white jail jumpsuit, appeared in court this morning in Toronto, which is the sprawling capital of Ontario province. He is scheduled to appear in court again May 10 via video link.

Minassian was arrested and taken into custody Monday as the suspected driver in the van attack, which killed 10 people and injured 15 others, according to the Toronto Police Service.

The Canadian Armed Forces confirmed in a statement to ABC News that Minassian was a member for about two months last year, from Aug. 23 until Oct. 25. He didn’t complete his recruit training and requested to be voluntarily released from the forces after 16 days of the training, according to the Canadian Armed Forces.

PHOTO: Alek Minassian, 25, has been identified by Toronto police as the suspect who allegedly killed 10 people in a van attack, April 23, 2018.

Alek Minassian, 25, has been identified by Toronto police as the suspect who allegedly killed 10 people in a van attack, April 23, 2018.

Neighbors of Minassian, who lived in the Toronto suburb of Richmond Hills, described him as very quiet and odd. They told ABC News they saw him in the neighborhood — including one neighbor who said he regularly saw him jogging — but had never spoken to him.

At a news conference in Canada’s capital this morning, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provided no suspected motive for the attack but said investigators still “have no reason to suspect that there is any national security element to this attack.”

“Obviously, all Canadians continue and will continue to have questions about why this happened, what could possibly be the motives behind it,” Trudeau told reporters in Ottawa. “As was indicated last night by our public security minister, at this time we have no reason to suspect that there is any national security element to this attack, but obviously the investigations continue.”

ABC News

PHOTO: Toronto Van Attack

Monday’s attack began at Yonge Street and Finch Avenue in Toronto’s bustling North York neighborhood, police said. The suspect then drove the white Ryder van south for nearly 1 1/2 miles, ramming into more pedestrians at Yonge Street and Sheppard Avenue. The vehicle finally stopped on Poyntz Avenue, just off Yonge Street.

Witness Ali Shaker saw the van jump the sidewalk and said people walking were “crumbled up,” he told Canada’s CTV News.

“He’s just hitting people one by one, going down,” Shaker said. “It was a nightmare.”

Visibly frightened by what he saw, Shaker could barely recount the horror he witnessed. He said he was driving when the incident occurred.

“I’m so shaky — I can’t believe this is happening,” he said. “This is so unbelievable.”

Shaker initially assumed the driver was experiencing some kind of medical emergency, he said, and even attempted to try to stop the driver from causing more carnage.

“I thought he had a heart attack or something so I was trying to chase him on the way, almost trying to catch up,” he told CTV News, adding that the driver was moving fast.

“He hit everybody on the sidewalk; anybody in his way he would hit,” Shaker added. “The bus stop — all shattered. There was a lady in there I saw and I stopped and I looked and I went after and all I see is just crumbling one by one.”

PHOTO: According to eyewitnesses, a white van hit pedestrians in Toronto, Canada, April 23, 2018, CTV reported.CTV

According to eyewitnesses, a white van hit pedestrians in Toronto, Canada, April 23, 2018, CTV reported.

Phil Zullo, who also witnessed the attack, told CTV News he saw “shoes and hats flown everywhere.”

Another witness said he stopped outside of a building for a smoke break and saw a middle-aged man get struck as he was crossing the street.

“As I lit up my cigarette I saw a man walking in the middle of the intersection and a van plowed right into him,” the witness, who went by Steve, told CTV News. “I saw the guy go flying. … It was just clear as day, just saw the guy get hit by the van and pieces of the van fell off.”

Afterward, Steve said he rushed into the middle of the street to tend to the injured man “to make sure no other cars struck him.”

The victim, he said, was around 50, was unconscious “and could barely move.”

The van kept driving and hit others, Steven added, leaving behind pools of blood.

“I saw three or four [people] on the ground around me,” he said. “Other people were getting CPR.”

He’s convinced that stopping for the cigarette break saved him, Steve said.

“I had just stopped to light the cigarette and if I hadn’t done that I would have been killed as well,” he said. “I would have been right there with that guy.”

A van with a damaged front-end sits idle on a sidewalk after the driver drove down a sidewalk crashing into a number of pedestrians in Toronto, Monday, April 23, 2018. The van apparently jumped a curb Monday in a busy intersection in Toronto and struThe Associated Press

A van with a damaged front-end sits idle on a sidewalk after the driver drove down a sidewalk crashing into a number of pedestrians in Toronto, Monday, April 23, 2018. The van apparently jumped a curb Monday in a busy intersection in Toronto and stru

Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto confirmed in a statement that it had received a total of 10 patients from Monday’s incident. Two of them were pronounced dead upon arrival. Five others were in critical condition and three were in serious condition, the hospital said.

Images from the scene showed multiple victims on the ground, while video showed the moment a single police officer confronted the suspect on the street.

In the video, taken by an onlooker, the officer draws his firearm and stands off against the suspect, who appears to be pointing an object. The two exchange words, and the suspect eventually yields to the repeated calls to “get down,” allowing the officer to handcuff him.

During this morning’s press conference, Trudeau called the incident “a senseless attack and a horrific tragedy.” He told reporters he spoke with Ontario’s premier and Toronto’s mayor Monday night.

Trudeau will go to Toronto “as soon as it makes sense to do so,” he said, but doesn’t want to distract from the investigation for now.

Toronto Mayor John Tory told reporters Monday afternoon that his “thoughts are with those affected by this incident.” He said the beautiful weather meant many people were out on the street.

“There were a lot of pedestrians out,” Tory said, “enjoying the sunny afternoon.”

PHOTO: Police arrive on the scene where a white van struck pedestrians, April 23, 2018, in Toronto, Canada.CTV via AP

Police arrive on the scene where a white van struck pedestrians, April 23, 2018, in Toronto, Canada.

Canadian Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Ralph Goodale called the incident an attack but said he didn’t want to speculate when asked whether the terrorism was to blame.

“We cannot come to any firm conclusions at this stage,” Goodale told reporters Monday. “The police are conducting their thorough investigation into what happened and why it happened.”

U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen is in Toronto as part of the G-7 Security Ministerial, which is set to conclude today. A senior official with the U.S. Department of State told ABC News the U.S. delegation is safe.

PHOTO: A tarp lays on top of a body on Yonge St. at Finch Ave. after a van plowed into pedestrians, April 23, 2018, in Toronto, Canada.Cole Burston/Getty Images

A tarp lays on top of a body on Yonge St. at Finch Ave. after a van plowed into pedestrians, April 23, 2018, in Toronto, Canada.

The White House released its first comment on the attack late-Monday night, saying, “The United States stands with the Canadian people in the aftermath of today’s tragic event in Toronto, where a van drove into a crowd of people killing several and injuring many more.”

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of those affected, and we wish a full recovery to those injured,” the statement continued. “The United States Government pledges to provide any support Canada may need.”

Ryder, the brand of rental truck involved in the incident, said in a statement it was saddened by “this tragic event” and extended its “deepest sympathies” to those impacted.

The company also stated that it is “cooperating fully with authorities.”

ABC News’ Malka Abramoff, Andrew Fies, Erin Keohane, Tom Llamas, M.L. Nestel, Pierre Thomas and Gerry Wagschal contributed to this report.

Training Camp Recap: Latest workout highlighted by the goal line drill

The Pittsburgh Steelers were scheduled for a full workout on Sunday, but Mother Nature had different plans.

After having the workout already pushed back due to impending weather, the team was forced to leave their grass field and head to the field turf. Even there the weather shortened a good portion of practice.

Bad news for those in attendance, but probably good for the banged-up Steelers. With a scheduled day off on Monday, a large majority of the team was given the day off. Nonetheless, practice still went as scheduled, or as close to it as possible, and that included the first goal-line situation for the offense and defense.

Unfortunately, nothing really noteworthy took place during these drills, other than a Xavier Grimble catch which would have been ruled incomplete in 2017, but was a touchdown in 2018. When they existed the field, it seemed as if the players were anxious to get out of the weather and enjoy a day off.

While the defense did win the overall drill, it should be noted that David DeCastro and Marcus Gilbert were given the day off.

Time for some other nuggets of information from this shortened practice:

Tuesday’s workout should be better

With the Steelers traveling to Philadelphia on Thursday for their first preseason game, Tuesday will be a big practice, and Coach Tomlin is looking to have many of the banged-up players back on the field.

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin: “I anticipate us getting a number of those (injured) guys back on Tuesday.” That might include Antonio Brown, who’s considered day-to-day.

— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) August 5, 2018

That’s pretty much it. Not much to report due to the shortened workout and many players given the day off.


#LIVE: Coach Tomlin addresses the media following practice at #SteelersCamp.

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 5, 2018

DC Keith Butler on the defense, who has stood out at #SteelersCamp, our upcoming preseason game against the Eagles and more.

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 5, 2018

Roethlisberger practicing corner routes with the running backs.

— Dale Lolley (@dlolley_pgh) August 5, 2018

Thanks for sticking it out with us, #SteelersNation.

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 5, 2018


.@steelers tight end Xavier Grimble pulls in a touchdown pass during goal line drill, JuJu Shuster-Smith looks for a good one and quarterbacks Mason Rudolph and Landry Jones look on as Ben Roethlisberger throws.

— Charles Palla (@ChazPalla) August 5, 2018

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 6, 2018

Seattle Seahawks to open 13 training camp practices to the public

The Seahawks training camp will begin July 26 and fans interested in attending a practice must register through the team’s website, beginning Thursday, June 21.

Medical Training for Addiction is Still Mostly Unchartered Territory

Photo by Mikail Duran on Unsplash

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, addiction is a disease that contributes to 632,000 deaths in the United States annually.  However, comprehensive addiction training is still rare in medical school education.  A report by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University detailed “the failure of the medical profession at every level — in medical school, residency training, continuing education and in practice” to adequately address and prevent the crisis.

Dr. Timothy Brennan, who directs an addiction medicine fellowship at Mount Sinai Health System, said that combating the epidemic with practicing providers is “like trying to fight World War II with only the Coast Guard.”  They haven’t been prepared to tackle it head-on.

Now, however, after a decade-long push by doctors, medical students and patients to legitimize addiction medicine, slow but steady change is taking root.  The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) requested that the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine host a workshop, “Integrating Infectious Disease Considerations with Response to the Opioid Epidemic” on March 12 and 13, 2018, to address an urgent need to implement effective opioid use disorder treatment in health care settings and to address the intersecting epidemics of opioid misuse and its infectious disease (ID) consequences.

Photo by Asdrubal luna on Unsplash

Also, in June, the House of Representatives authorized a bill to reimburse education costs for providers who work in the addiction arena.  There are only 52 addiction medicine fellowships nationwide, and in August, the first twelve received gold-standard board certification status from the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education.

Boston University includes pioneering addiction training into all four years of its medical program.  The students learn about “motivational interviewing,” a technique that encourages patients to formulate health goals.  Students are being taught to engage patients with a joint-decision-making, rather than offering provider-only solutions.

Dr. Bradley M. Buchheit of Boston University teaches his students, “Substance use disorder is a chronic, relapsing disease.  So is diabetes.  Diabetics don’t follow a diabetic diet 100 percent of the time.  If they were to have a slip-up, we would figure out what went wrong and say. ‘Is there anything else we can do?’”

Dr. Daniel Alford, a professor and associate dean at Boston University, who helps create the curriculum, said that because addiction medicine is relatively new, however, the program can’t rely on fellows.  Thus, the team is still having a hard time solidifying its presence. “The biggest challenge now is how do you sustain it?” he said. “Who keeps updating it?  When faculty leaves, who will replace them?”

There is not much incentive to specialize in addiction medicine, either.  Because patients are stereotypically viewed as manipulative and doomed to repeat destructive behaviors, the field is viewed as a thankless one from a medical student perspective.  Also, according to a 2017 study, insurance companies view addiction treatment as an afterthought to mental health care, so much of the treatment remains uncovered by most policies.

Perhaps Dr. Buchheit is an anomaly.  “I really enjoy working with these patients,” he said. “They have often been kicked to the curb by the formal medical system.  They don’t trust us.  So, for them to walk into a room and have a doctor say, ‘It’s great to see you, thank you for coming in,’ is very powerful.  And then you can see them get better with treatment.  It can be very rewarding work.”

There are some issues that commonly come up in conversation.  Students are often concerned they are being naïve when they opt to trust their hypothetical patients while intuitively knowing they should practice caution.  They wonder if increasing doses of pain medications will protect these individuals from seeking alternatives on the streets.  They are confused regarding which route to take.

And, although traditional medical training typically encourages its pupils to come up with definitive solutions, treating addiction means getting comfortable with ambiguity.  Practitioners need to learn to follow their gut.


Integrating Treatment at the Intersection of Opioid Use Disorder and Infectious Disease Epidemics in Medical Settings: A Call for Action After a National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine Workshop

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WPI project aims to use artificial intelligence to enhance teacher training

WORCESTER – A new government-funded research project at Worcester Polytechnic Institute aims to use artificial intelligence in hopes of revolutionizing the way teachers evaluate their own performance in the classroom.

Computer science professor Jacob Whitehill and his colleagues have received a $750,000, three-year grant from the National Science Foundation to develop the Automatic Classroom Observation Recognition Neural Network platform, or ACORN for short, which will combine machine learning, natural language processing, and elements of psychology and educational theory to deliver rapid feedback on teacher-student interactions.

“I’ve always loved teaching – I really enjoy the dynamics between myself and my students,” Mr. Whitehill said, adding that he’s been particularly fascinated with finding a way to identify the characteristics of a positive exchange between instructor and pupil.

Currently, teachers rely on one-on-one and group feedback, as well as some video-aided assessment, to evaluate those interactions. Mr. Whitehill believes ACORN could allow them to critique themselves not only much more frequently, but also without the pressure of a peer or supervisor being involved.

“This kind of technology allows them to get objective feedback on their own teaching every day if they wanted to,” he said. “And they don’t have to worry about it being seen by anyone else.”

ACORN, which is based on automatic facial and emotion recognition technology, essentially involves showing a machine hundreds of videos of classroom interactions and teaching it to identify physiological and speech cues – tone of voice and eye contact, for example – that indicate an effective interaction with a student. Using a heat map, for instance, ACORN could pinpoint when a teacher is showing emotional support of a student, and then share that information with the Classroom Observation Interactive Learning System, or COILS – a complementary technology to ACORN that Mr. Whitehill and his team also plan to develop – to be synthesized into an interactive training exercise for that instructor.

Working with Mr. Whitehill on the project will be WPI professors Erin Ottmar and Lane Harrison, as well as Jennifer LoCasale-Crouch, a professor at the University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education. Undergraduate and graduate students at WPI will assist. 

In the Worcester schools, teachers occasionally use technology, including video, to brush up on their skills, according to Magdalena Ganias, director of curriculum and professional learning.

“Some teachers do ask someone to videotape them, so they can watch themselves” in action, she said, or watch videos of other teachers being critiqued.

But she and Sarah Kyriazis, the school district’s manager of instructional technology and digital learning, said they wouldn’t want to see technology completely replace human interaction in professional development.

“I think there’s a lot of research showing that there’s a huge jump in professional learning success when teachers have coaching and modeling in the classroom,” Ms. Kyriazis said.

Neither administrator was ready last week to speculate about the potential of the AI- based approach being developed at WPI.

Mr. Whitehill said ACORN and COILS aren’t intended to replace conventional interpersonal teacher training exercises.

“This is such a hard artificial intelligence task,” he said. “We won’t be able to analyze a real classroom environment like a human can.”

But he hopes the technology could be a low-cost  supplemental professional development tool, and one that is intuitive enough for teachers to do on their own. Mr. Whitehill intends to make it a free service to schools.

“This is a very exploratory, ambitious project,” he said. He said it could be a decade before a finished product is finally available for schools to use.

In the meantime, Mr. Whitehill and his research team will work toward the goal of producing “high-quality research” to propel the project even after the government grant expires in three years.