Monitoring Health


Technology Projects

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Monitoring Health

With more than 40% of adults in the U.S. currently dealing with two or more chronic health conditions, 71% of health care dollars are being spent on managing chronic conditions. My interest is in helping people better manage their chronic conditions by developing easy-to-use tools people can employ at home to monitor their health. their health conditions.

I am currently designing and developing My Glaucoma Helper, a voice-enabled application to help people who have glaucoma instll the correct eye drops at the right time. Studies have shown that non-adherence to glaucoma medications is unfortunately very high, estimated to range from 24% to 59% [1]. “Open-angle glaucoma (the most common form affecting 90% of glaucoma cases) is the leading cause of irreversible blindness in the US and worldwide, following cataract, which is reversible [2]” and “the only proven method of slowing glaucoma is to lower intraocular pressure (IOP) with daily medications for an indefinite period [3].”

“Since reduction in IOP with ocular hypotensive agents is effective in slowing the progression of glaucoma, non-adherence could be considered a risk factor for irreversible vision loss [4,5,6]. Importantly, non-adherence to treatment has been shown to contribute significantly to disease progression and avoidable vision loss [6,7,8,9,10].”

Even though people know they’re at risk of losing their vision, they don’t necessarily use their drops on a regular basis. Perhaps, a different approach would help. Recent studies have attempted to improve adherence with such approaches as automated dosing reminders [11]. My Glaucoma Helper uses voice reminders and timers to assist people in remembering to take their drops and allowing sufficient time between instillation of multiple drops. Following Charles Duhigg’s approach to habit formation [12], My Glaucoma Helper incorporates known psychological techniques to help people build and reinforce their habit of instilling their drops at the prescribed interval on a daily basis.

I recently joined the IEEE P1752 Standard for Mobile Health Data working group to participate in the development of an interoperability standard to help make patient-generated data from disparate sources accessible.

Building on my gerontechnology work to address the challenges faced by people who have glaucoma, I am currently using Data Science tools to design and develop back-end data collection for the Glaucoma Helper. The Glaucoma Helper will be enhanced with the addition of exploratory data analysis of the data that is collected from those who choose to participate.

Here is Charles Duhigg's diagram showing the steps for creating a habit [12]. Diagram of How to Create A Habit by Charles Duhigg



Recognizing the need for collaborative frameworks to address problems faced by older adults and their caregivers, I decided to build a collaborative gerontechnology solution. I presented a paper at the 2008 International Conference on Creating, Connecting, and Collaborating through Computing (C5 2008) in Poitiers, France, entitled: Collaborative Gerontechnology. Based on my research, I built a team to develop a prototype. After piloting the prototype with a variety of older adults and their caregivers, we were awarded two Small Business Technology Transfer Research (STTR) Grants to support our work by the National Institute on Aging (NIA), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The final reports submitted to the National Institutes of Health are available online at: Sensor-Enabled Elder Social Support Platform and Online Psychosocial Assessment Instruments.

Technology Projects

Voice Technology

For my M.S. in Computer and Communication Sciences, I developed a single word speech recognition system with speaker training. My research focused on examining how prosodic signals (pauses and intonation) can be used to automate the understanding of continuous speech. Now that there are commercial voice technology systems available for home use, I am developing voice-enabled applications for Amazon Alexa. My focus is on developing voice-enabled applications for eyes-busy, hands-busy situations to help people better monitor and manage their chronic conditions at home.

Data Science

Looking for ways to improve the effectiveness of online learning, I started developing learning analytics. I led the Learning Analytics team for the Designing a New Learning Environment Stanford online course and created a requirements document for our team to measure the effectiveness of different learning approaches for students in an undergraduate biology lab course. Then, in order to be able to employ current Data Science tools, I completed a Data Science certificate program. Seeking to determine if participation in certain course activities would predict their grades, I developed a Shiny app Predicting Grades of Online Learners Based on Activity Indicators to look at different ways learners engaged in several Harvard and MIT online courses, such as completing lectures, participating in discussion forums, etc.

Collaborative Technologies

After successfully harnessing collaborative technologies to build and manage a number of high-performance virtual teams, I was asked to contribute to the Encyclopedia of Virtual Communities and Technologies, edited by Subhasish Dasgupta. I wrote a paper entitled: Success of Virtual Environments. The full text of the paper is available here. I also led workshops with my Montreal Band colleagues on employing collaborative tools to create and manage highly effective virtual teams at the University of Applied Sciences in Luebeck, Germany and at ED-MEDIA 2005--World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia & Telecommunications in Montreal, Canada. Recently, I was asked to lead a Collaborative Tools for Distributed Teams workshop as part of a day-long Tools & Practices Workshop for the Center for Innovative Cultures at the Gore School of Business in Utah. Workshop participants came from industry, academia, non-profit organizations, and government agencies to learn how to support teamwork and collaboration in organizations that are distributed across geographical, organizational, or functional boundaries.

Multi-Intelligent Online Learning

Applying the Theory of Multiple Intelligences, developed by Howard Gardner, I have focused on reaching a wide range of adult learners by adapting the presentation of educational content to people with differing profiles of multiple intelligences. Therefore, for my PhD dissertation, which I completed in 2002, I developed a prototype adaptive online learning system and performed a formative evaluation of the prototype. I tested the prototype with a wide range of adult learners, gathering feedback on how the prototype system could be improved so that online learning can offer "anyone, anyhow" learning in addition to providing "anytime, anywhere" access. My complete dissertation is available online: Applying Multi-Intelligent Adaptive Hypermedia to Online Learning, and many other educational technologists have cited and built on my research. Individual chapters are also available online: Overview of Research Study in Applying Multi-Intelligent Adaptive Hypermedia to Online Learning, Theoretical Foundation in Educational Psychology for Multi-Intelligent Online Learning, Adaptive Hypermedia Technology for Multi-Intelligent Online Learning, and Web Technologies for Multi-Intelligent Online Learning.

Diagram of Multi-Intelligent Online Learning

Serving as Curriculum Development Director for the Stanford University Western Institute of Computer Science (WICS), I organized the program in Computer Science and taught courses in Electronic Commerce and Web Business Development to professionals in industry, academia, and government agencies. Our courses were offered as face-to-face week-long intensive courses in the summer as well as online to organizations through the Stanford Center for Professional Development. I then worked with the University of Hong Kong to establish the first Master's degree program in Electronic Commerce and Internet Computing in the Asia Pacific region, accepting the first cohort in 1999. As part of the Master's degree program, I taught my E-Commerce and Web Business Development course as a hybrid in-person and online course to 127 working professionals. Prentice-Hall was interested in the Stanford Web Development curriculum I had developed with some of the other Stanford WICS faculty members, so I co-authored two books: Supporting Web Servers and Analyzing E-Commerce and Internet Law, which were published by Prentice-Hall in 2001. The books were adopted to help teach Web development and E-Commerce at a number of universities. Supporting Web Servers was subsequently translated into German and published for the German higher education market as well.

After I completed my PhD, I presented a summary of my dissertation at the Association for the Advancement of Computers in Education (AACE) E-Learn 2002 conference in Montreal, Canada, and my paper: Applying Multi-Intelligent Adaptive Hypermedia to Online Learning, was published in the conference proceedings.

Meeting other e-learning researchers at E-Learn 2002, I co-founded an international e-learning collaboratory, The Montreal Band, and conducted action research with colleagues in Germany, the UK, Belgium, Mexico, and other parts of the U.S. The first paper that resulted from our collaborative action research was: A Model for Systemic Change Management in Education, which I co-authored with Michael Bischoff, in Germany, and Marylu Menchaca, who had come from Mexico to work in Texas. Our paper was selected as the best paper presented in the session: Applications of Information & Communication Technologies in Education during the International Conference on Education and Information Systems: Technologies and Applications (EISTA ´03), July 31-August 2, 2003 in Orlando, Florida. The Journal of Systemics, Cybernetics, and Informatics subsequently published A Model for Systemic Change Management in Education in Volume 2 - Number 1 - Year 2004. Later, our paper was translated into Portuguese to become a chapter in a book on e-learning in universities published by Cengage Learning for the Brazilian higher education market.

I collaborated with two other Montreal Band members, Ann Shortridge, in the U.S., and Toby De Loght, in Belgium, applying the Entry Point Framework I had learned from Howard Gardner and his Project Zero team at the Harvard University School of Education, to faculty development. We discussed our collaborative action research in a paper entitled: The Online Water Cooler: Inviting Faculty into Professional Development through the Entry Point Framework (abstract), (full text of paper), which we presented at the Association for the Advancement of Computers in Education (AACE) ED-MEDIA 2005--World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia & Telecommunications in Montreal, Canada. Ann, Toby, and I also co-authored a paper entitled: TNT-IDS: Showcasing an Educational Informatics Project Development Guide Prototype, that was published in the e-Journal of Instructional Science and Technology (eJIST).

I also collaborated with Leslie Shelton, who was applying the Theory of Multiple Intelligences to literacy training for adults. Leslie and I were asked to create an interactive training program for people working with adults in literacy training programs, and the program we developed was entitled: Unleashing Potential through Multi-Intelligent Literacy Instruction.

As an adjunct faculty member at the University of San Francisco, I worked with other faculty members to develop online learning programs to accompany their courses in the Master's in Information Systems (MSIS) program. I documented my experience developing problem-based online learning for adult learners and presented my paper entitled: Developing Process Skills and Content Knowledge through Multi-Intelligent Problem-Based Hybrid Learning at the PEG2003 conference in St. Petersburg, Russia in July, 2003. I extended this work into a new virtual environment and presented a paper entitled: Reaching Adult Learners through the Entry Point Framework and Problem-Based Learning in a Croquet-Based Virtual Environment (abstract) at the 2005 International Conference on Creating, Connecting, and Collaborating through Computing (C5 2005) in Kyoto, Japan. The full paper is available here. I also organized e-learning workshops with my Montreal Band colleagues at the University of Applied Sciences in Luebeck, Germany and at ED-MEDIA 2005--World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia & Telecommunications in Montreal, Canada. At the 2007 International Conference on Creating, Connecting, and Collaborating through Computing (C5 2007), I led a workshop on Creating Multi-Intelligent User Experiences through Digital Media.

Santa Clara University was interested in helping their faculty learn how to use technology-enabled learning approaches to reach all different adult learners, so I presented the Theoretical Foundation for Multi-Intelligent Technology-Enabled Online Learning and developed and led interactive workshops on Technology-Enabled Learning and Educational Methodologies and Enabling Technologies to a cross-section of faculty members in different departments. To reach a wider audience of university faculty members, I taught a similar workshop on Designing Multi-Intelligent Technology-Enabled Instruction at the Lilly Conference on College and University Teaching and Learning.

For more information, please contact --

Benay Dara-Abrams, PhD -- benay at brainjolt.com, @benayda

Benay Dara-Abrams photo

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