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Registration open for NIU disability MOOC

August 19, 2013
Greg Long

Greg Long

Registration is now open for Perspectives on Disability, Northern Illinois University’s first-ever Massive Open Online Course (MOOC). The free online course was developed to raise awareness about disability, a fact of life for millions of people around the world, from personal, philosophical, sociological, psychological, medical, and legal perspectives. The MOOC is led by College of Health and Human Sciences professor Greg Long, a Presidential Teaching Professor in the School of Allied Health and Communicative Disorders.

Staci Fulton, a former AHRS 200 student who has a disability, is hoping the MOOC based on the course will have a positive impact and says, “I think it’s important for people to realize that despite the many stigmatizations about disability, we can live normal lives, no matter what accommodations we may need. This MOOC will be a real eye opener for people and I am hoping will give people more of an open mind when it comes to disability!”

NIU instructor Lisa Gagliano adds, “The MOOC is unique because it is built upon the ideas, experiences, and perspectives of people with disabilities. They are our leaders and teachers, and their stories are real, relevant, and sometimes…raw.”

The online course is designed to provide an introduction to disability and people who have disabilities. It is also intended to create awareness, comfort, and sensitivity toward disability as an issue of cultural diversity and inclusion. The course is designed to reach out to nearly all learners, from middle school to adults.

“As a person with a disability, I sometimes think that people see disability issues as taboo topics. I hope this course will help change that attitude and encourage people to feel more comfortable with talking about these things,” adds NIU graduate student Alex Fireman.

The course begins September 9, 2013 and continues through November 17, 2013. Weekly lessons introduce participants to a variety of perspectives about disability with an etiquette question, short lectures, guest speaker interviews, readings, and assigned activities.

Dale Sczweck, who is among the course’s guest speakers, says, “Taking this course will expose the learner to many disabilities, through the words and experiences of people with disabilities. This course puts people with disabilities at the front of the class, providing teachable moments through discussion and thought-provoking materials designed to guide the student through the terms, techniques, and etiquette appropriate to getting to know people who have disabilities.”

Students who complete the weekly quizzes and course assignments will earn certificates of completion. In addition, Illinois teachers may earn 20 Continuing Professional Development Units (CPDUs) upon course completion. No NIU credit will be awarded for completing the course.

The course will be delivered via Blackboard CourseSites, a free, fully-hosted and supported online course system featuring the company’s latest teaching and learning technologies. The Blackboard platform was recently recognized by the National Federation of the Blind for accessibility and offers 24/7 technology support for students as well as an automatic self-enrollment process.

The course is offered free of charge. Registration is currently open at For more information about the “Perspectives on Disability” MOOC, contact Professor Greg Long at [email protected].