Stanford MOOC goes to extremes to teach environmental physiology

The human body is amazing, as is the video that accompanies Anne Friedlander’s Environmental Physiology course – which will be offered as a free Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) to the public this winter, the Stanford Report reports.

To dramatically demonstrate the body’s mysteries and its amazing adaptations, Friedlander, a consulting professor in human biology at Stanford as well as an athlete and scientist, created a series of stories and endurance tests, with the video camera rolling.

She was joined by the experimental subject of the course and the protagonist of the environmental physiology story, Where’s Corey Now? or even more accurately, What in the World Is Happening to Corey Now?

Corey Dysick, teaching assistant for the course as well as a decathlete and Stanford alumnus, was exposed to a number of extreme environments to explore the impact these environments have on his – and, by extension, everyone’s – body.

For one chapter, Dysick and Friedlander spent 48 hours at central Colorado’s Pikes Peak, which tops out at 14,114 feet above sea level, to study the impact of high altitude on the body. In another, they flew in fighter jets to experience the effects of g-forces, or extra gravities.

In the chapter on stress, Dysick and Friedlander jumped from a plane at 15,000 feet over the Nevada desert to explore physiological responses to extreme stress on heart rate, cognition and pain threshold.

Students in the class will be immersed in the resulting sensory-rich videos.

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