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Kansas State University's first free online course reaches students on six continents

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

MANHATTAN — In fall 2014, Linda Yarrow, assistant professor of human nutrition, taught Kansas State University's first massive open online course, or MOOC, to 2,100 people across the globe. The course reached participants in North and South America, Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia.

The MOOC, called Health and Wellness 101: Everyday Small Changes, covered topics on living a healthy lifestyle, including healthy meal planning and cooking, body image, physical activity, sleep habits, lowering disease risk and stress management. Yarrow says health and wellness issues appeal to a diverse global population.

"Everyone, at some point in their life, becomes more concerned about their health," Yarrow said. "Sometimes it's because they realize their needs change as they get older, and other times they witness friends and family having health complications. We tried to make the course very personal, though it's hard to do on such a large, international scale."

On a national level, several employers across Kansas and the United States encouraged their employees to complete the course or promoted it to their clients.

"We had teachers from the Wichita school district whose administration said the course counts toward personal development," Yarrow said. "We had junior high and high school science teachers using it to teach a science elective to students. We had wellness staff from corporations who were in charge of promoting health and wellness at their organization, as well as extension agents nationwide who took their clients through the program as a group."

The MOOC also increased awareness about Kansas State University's academic opportunities and reputation to a larger international audience. Providing information for free, from a credible source, helps foster more global connections.

"We had very positive comments about K-State," Yarrow said. "Many students stated they loved getting information from such a reputable source. One student even said she Googled the reputation of the university first and was impressed so she signed up. K-State is well known within the United States, so it was great to be able to promote the university worldwide."

The second offering of the health and wellness MOOC began Jan. 12 and remains open to all students until March 22. Learn more about the course or enroll in the current MOOC offering at http://global.k-state.edu/healthforyou

Source: Linda Yarrow, 785-532-7177, lyarrow@k-state.edu
Written by: Rosanna Vail, 785-532-2720, rvail@k-state.edu; and Anna Shippy, 785-532-5888, akshippy@k-state.edu
K-State News and Communications Services