Online course for older citizens

“Mastery of Aging Well: A Program for Healthy Living” is a new online course developed by Oregon State University’s Division of Outreach and Engagement.  It went live Aug. 25 and is available free of charge at

Created for aging adults and those who care for them, the five-part series is co-sponsored by AARP Oregon and supported by a U.S. Dept. of Agriculture grant. The target audience is all Oregonians, particularly those in rural areas. As the course is Web-based, it will also be available worldwide.

“We believe this is the first program of its kind,” said Sharon Johnson, OSU Extension Service associate professor in family and community health, and project leader for content development. “The goal was to build an integrated, easy-to-access online series designed specifically with the older learner in mind.”

The Mastery program consists of self-paced learning modules narrated by Johnson. Each segment offers practical, research-based information relevant to the challenges many older adults face every day:
•Memory Difficulties: Should I be Worried? Covers how memory works, with special focus on how to improve memory and recall.
•Depression in Later Life. Offers an overview of depression and aging, and information on what predisposes aging adults to the risk of depression.
•Medication Jeopardy. Outlines the risks attached to taking medications and how age influences risk.
•Food As Medicine?  Is a compelling presentation about eating and aging, with nutritional recommendations for the aging adult.
•Physical Activity and Exercise in Later Life. Shows how exercise/activity programs can help aging adults stay independent and physically able.
“AARP is pleased to partner with OSU on this ground-breaking effort,” said Joyce DeMonnin, director of public outreach for the group’s Oregon office. “Older adults need this type of credible information they can trust and it’s great they can get it online wherever and whenever they choose.”
All course content is based on material Johnson has presented in face-to-face workshops and refined over the past decade in her role as a field faculty member in the Jackson County OSU Extension Service in Central Point.
A second Mastery program, known as Option 2, will launch in early 2010.  It is a greatly expanded version led by an online instructor, with extensive opportunity for student-faculty interaction. Option 2 includes additional learning materials and will be fee-based. The final program, Option 3, is also fee-based and will include instructor interaction, all course materials on DVD and the opportunity to earn a certificate of completion.
The OSU Extension Service and OSU Extended Campus, partner organizations in OSU’s Division of Outreach and Engagement, developed the Mastery course collaboratively. It is the first major grant-funded extended learning project created by Outreach and Engagement.

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