Dr. Britigan takes lead on NU's first MOOC

by Melissa Lee, University of Nebraska | April 22, 2014

Image with caption: Denise Britigan, Ph.D.

Denise Britigan, Ph.D.

Denise Britigan, Ph.D., assistant professor in UNMC's Department of Health Promotion, Social and Behavioral Health, will teach the University of Nebraska's first massive open online course (MOOC), "Health Literacy and Communication for Health Professionals," beginning in the fall.

The course starts Oct. 19, within a year of NU's partnership with Coursera, a leading provider of MOOCs, and is designed for individuals interested in improving their health literacy and communication skills.

Enrollment is open now open for the course.

"Our goal in joining with Coursera was to provide a platform for our faculty to build on the University of Nebraska's long history of providing high-quality education to students regardless of location. With this new MOOC -- our first -- we are doing just that," said NU President James B. Milliken.

"I'm very pleased that our faculty are taking advantage of this opportunity to better serve students in Nebraska and around the world," Milliken said. "While MOOCs are of course just one strategy, they represent an exciting opportunity to expand access to our rich coursework and talented faculty to many more students."

The course is eight weeks long and requires about three to five hours per week of work, including readings and instructional videos. Students who successfully complete the course will receive a "Statement of Accomplishment" signed by Dr. Britigan. Students will not earn University of Nebraska credit by completing the course.

Dr. Britigan noted that two-thirds of the U.S. population reads at an eighth-grade reading level or below -- and that when it comes to health information, reading levels are even lower. This presents a challenge for health professionals who need to give patients medication instructions, for example, or explain behavioral changes that will help improve their health.

"As a professional community, we need to make sure we're communicating health information to patients in a way that they can understand it," she said. "There are a variety of strategies and skills that can be used in health communications, and the goal of this course is to share those skills so that we can serve the public more effectively. I'm excited to be taking advantage of the MOOC format to make this important course content available to all students who are interested."

NU's partnership with Coursera gives all four NU campuses the opportunity to explore and develop courses that use the platform.


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Ketki Patel
April 22, 2014 at 12:58 PM

This is really exciting Dr. B!

April 22, 2014 at 7:39 AM

Good work, Denise! It's great to be the first in a new educational forum. Hal