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NIU’s first ‘MOOC’ enjoys successful conclusion

December 6, 2013
Greg Long

Greg Long

Northern Illinois University’s first-ever Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) – Perspectives on Disability – came to a successful close Nov. 17.

Led by Presidential Teaching Professor Greg Long of the School of Allied Health and Communicative Disorders, the 10-week experience  was a streamlined version of the for-credit AHRS 200, a general education course titled, “Disability in Society.”

The free MOOC emphasized personal, philosophical, sociological, psychological, medical and legal perspectives about living with disabilities.

It included more than 55 closed-captioned video segments across 10 lessons, covering issues related to disability and media, language, stereotypes, education, community living and adaptation.

The course featured the work of more than 50 undergraduate and graduate students as well as faculty and staff from several colleges and majors at NIU.

More than 800 people from around the world signed up for the MOOC, and more than a quarter of those who started the MOOC completed it (which is typical of MOOCs). Illinois teachers who completed the course earned 20 hours of continuing professional development units (CPDUs).

laptopParticipants who completed the MOOC were very positive about the experience as well.

“It is gratifying to read the reflections of the participants,” Long said. “They found the videos and resources to be beneficial, particularly the real-life stories shared by our guest speakers. A number of them said that seeing and hearing the speakers helped them better understand and adapt to their own disabilities.”

The MOOC was partially supported by a donation from Bill Nicklas and John and Nancy Castle for developing materials to raise awareness about disability as well as by the College of Health and Human Sciences. Long also credits the support of Stephanie Richter and Tracy Miller from the Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center at all stages of the MOOC project.

“Everyone has been so supportive of this project,” Long said. “We would never have been able to accomplish so much without everyone’s collaboration and dedication. Along with increasing awareness of disability issues, this MOOC has helped to promote NIU around the world as well.”

The course materials will remain available; anyone interested can self-enroll at In addition, the videos produced for the course are available on the Perspectives on Disability YouTube Channel.

For more information about the MOOC, call (815) 753-6508 or email [email protected].