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FIU Online & Department of Emergency Management Partner to Create Emergency Preparedness MOOC

– FIU Online. August 19, 2015

Focus placed on hurricane readiness as 2015 season is underway

While South Florida has been very fortunate to have several quiet hurricane seasons in recent years, it only takes a single storm to make a dramatic impact. To share its knowledge and experience to help all communities along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts be better prepared for potential hurricanes, FIU Online has partnered with Florida International University’s Department of Emergency Management to create an Emergency Preparedness MOOC, a Massive Open Online Course that is free and open to anyone with internet access, that includes various modules with one specifically dedicated to hurricane readiness.

The 25-minute hurricane readiness module provides an overview of these violent storms and their potential danger, plus comprehensive information how to protect your home, your family and your workplace. It includes a video with Roary the Panther, FIU's official mascot, to see how he prepares for a hurricane, plus excellent resources on how to develop a family communications plan, determine your flood risk, guide to proper tree pruning and what to put in an emergency kit. The course also covers what to do during the storm, and after it passes. Throughout the course, there are opportunities to check your knowledge as well as a list of frequently asked questions that covers everything from how much water you need to whether you should prepare food in your fridge before the storm.

Amy B. Aiken, FIU's Director of Emergency Management explains why a tool to assist with hurricane readiness needed to be developed:

“Since South Florida hasn't been hit by a major hurricane in more than a decade, there's a certain level of complacency. There are also plenty of people new to South Florida who have never experienced a hurricane. So whether this serves as a refresher course or it's new information, my hope is that the course will help start some important conversations before a storm strikes.”

This tool also helps the university community be well informed in advance of an imminent storm. FIU uses FIU Alert, which notifies students and employees of hurricane watches and warnings via email messages, FIU’s main webpage and social media.

Matthew Acevedo, a senior instructional designer for FIU Online, adds that they designed this comprehensive emergency MOOC as a “just in time” resource with accessibility in mind.

“Because the content is so important, we wanted to remove all the barriers to access—we eliminated the registration and login information, and created the content to be responsive on all devices, so that the course looks just as good on an iPhone or iPad as it does on the desktop.”

The Emergency Preparedness MOOC, which went live in early July, also includes modules on Criminal Threats, Thunderstorms, Tornadoes, Pandemic and Ebola Virus. You can access all the Emergency Preparedness topics at http://prep.fiu.edu/.