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Week of May 7, 2012

STAFF Spotlight

‘Computer geek’ teaches students to incorporate technology into fitness

Six years ago, Marc Stephens was so out of shape that his doctor warned him to start making some changes or risk serious health complications.

“By the time that I graduated college I was probably close to 200 pounds, and sitting at a desk for the next 20 years only made that worse,” Stephens says. “I was about 240. 2006 came around, and my doctor basically said, ‘You need to start losing some weight.’ I took that to heart.”

Photo by Austin Thomason, Michigan Photography.

It took a couple more years for things to really click for Stephens, an instructional multimedia developer at the Medical School who says he hadn’t been exercising and didn’t pay much attention to diet before that.

He has since lost more than 60 pounds by walking, biking and incorporating his love of technology into a new routine.

“I am a computer geek,” he says. “I’m into all the little toys and such. So I started tracking (my weight) with computer software.”

He used GPS to map out a route, and wore a heart monitor that kept track of his results. His weight loss, plus the way he lost weight, impressed his bosses at the Medical School so much that they said he should teach a class on it.

From that came “Tech Savvy Fitness,” a two-week elective course for medical students that Stephens taught last fall. The five students in the class were given heart rate monitors and GPS receivers. The students mapped out a course on Google Earth, went for a 45-minute walk, and uploaded their data to the Garmin GPS website for analysis.

“It was a really fun class,” Stephens says. “The students raved about it. They wanted more.”

Given his background in technology, it’s no surprise that Stephens leaned on these tools for both his own weight loss and his class. He says his dad bought a computer when he was young and encouraged him to learn to use it.

“Computers were very much a niche thing (back then). If you had a computer, you were definitely a geek,” Stephens says. “Not many people had them.”

He joined the staff at the Medical School in 1992 and has been a full-time employee since 1993. His first job, which he held until a few years ago, was managing the help desk at a computer lab. The school didn’t have anyone on staff dedicated to Web design, and hired Stephens to fill that void.

“I develop websites, instructional videos and other instructional materials for the medical school. (I work with) faculty to meet what our students need,” he says.

Stephens has worked on numerous projects for the Medical School in this capacity. Among them are Orienting Your Learner, an aid for hospital faculty hosting medical students, and Professional Skill Builder, a computer module that trains students by simulating real-world clinical cases. He also is the chair of the publicity committee for the campuswide Teaching Technology Collaborative’s Enriching Scholarship conference.

He says his favorite thing to work on is the video production.

“I started as a video production student at Washtenaw Community College in fall 2009 and soon found that I love editing video, crafting the raw video footage to tell the educational story,” he says.

One of the perks of Stephens’ job is being able to work with something he’s passionate about, but that also impacts lives.

“Times change and I change with them,” he says of the continuing evolution of technology. “I have a deep and abiding interest in technology and how that can be used to improve our lives.”


The weekly Spotlight features faculty and staff members at the university. To nominate a candidate, please contact the Record staff at urecord@umich.edu.

 

STAFF SPOTLIGHT

Marc Stephens, instructional multimedia developer, Medical School, on what it takes to get in shape: "Both feet, in the water, go … because there is no other way to do it."

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