Northwestern University Prosthetics-Orthotics Center

The Northwestern University Prosthetics-Orthotics Center turned to Mediasite as student enrollment increased.

The Northwestern University Prosthetics-Orthotics Center (NUPOC), formed in 1958, provides professional development and continuing education courses to personnel serving people with physical challenges. As student enrollment increased and the baby boomer generation began to age, NUPOC decided to pursue a blended learning program and turned to Mediasite by Sonic Foundry. Students now enjoy flexible coursework and greater program accessibility, while professors praise Mediasite's ease-of-use. NUPOC also takes greater advantage of Mediasite by running the distance learning portion of the program concurrently with clinical training and increasing the number of students trained each year. 

At a glance

  • Rising enrollment and patient demand leads the Center to explore distance learning options
  • Mediasite increases flexibility for coursework completion, encouraging professional participation
  • Elimination of faculty time spent on pre- and post-production pleases staff
  • Center showcased as a leader in innovative education


NUPOC was confronted with delivering distance education programs to an increasing number of students that were entering the program. Because the Center has been a leading educator on the cutting edge of innovative advancements, many of the people entering the program are professionals in related fields who want to expand their training, yet they are not willing to walk away from their practices for several months to complete the appropriate education to advance their career.

"As the baby boomer generation continues to age, we will be faced with educating the number of practitioners needed to provide service to the disabled in this country. We knew we couldn't reach all the interested students using the existing teaching style," said Jodi Fox, director of distance education at Northwestern University Prosthetics Orthotics Center. "We realized one way we could make the program accessible to more students was to separate it into two parts. Separating the didactic and clinical portions of the program seemed to be an answer, but the remaining question was how."

Students needed the ability to seamlessly move from one program to the other in order to relate the knowledge with the skills being demonstrated. NUPOC decided to move to a blended learning program: the didactic section would be provided as distance learning while the clinical portion would be completed on-campus.


NUPOC faculty became aware of Mediasite through the Northwestern School of Communication, which had already adopted the technology. Mediasite cuts the opportunity cost for students participating in the blended learning program by allowing more flexible schedules. A great deal of course work can be done online, allowing students to complete the program in eight months: 22 weeks online followed by 10 weeks of on-site clinical course work.

"With the blended learning program we expect students to take 15 hours of online classes a week," said Fox. "Mediasite allows us to offer presentations and lectures in real time. Now, we can capture all the information on-the-fly and have interactivity with our students using Mediasite."

Content is primarily generated by professors who have grown to appreciate Mediasite's ease-of-use because it frees them from hours of pre- and post-production on each lecture.


Fox believes Mediasite is both improving the quality of teaching and enhancing student learning at Northwestern. "Mediasite literally is changing the way we think about our curriculum and how many people we can reach. Blended learning allows students to be at home while still getting their education," said Fox.

NUPOC can now provide the blended learning program to more students by minimizing the on-campus time and allowing students more time to devote to both their education and their career. "With Mediasite, the distance learning module is staged and run concurrently with the clinical modules. This allowed us to add an additional semester to the program," said Fox. "We used to educate 90 students per year. With the addition of the blended program, we can reach 135 students annually."

"We constantly are discussing new ways of using technology," she said. "We are moving toward digitizing everything and having it available as a library - knowing that we have Mediasite to minimize the time it takes to get it onto the web."


Northwestern University's Prosthetics-Orthotics Program (NUPOC) is nationally recognized as the premiere orthotic and prosthetic center in the nation. Formed in 1958, it remains the largest program of its kind. NUPOC offers intensive continuing education and post-graduate courses to professional personnel serving physically challenged persons. Classes are open to orthopedists, physiatrists, general and vascular surgeons, and to physical, occupational and kinesiotherapists, orthotists, prosthetists, pedorthists and other professional rehabilitation personnel. The courses are designed to train qualified personnel in the fundamental and advanced techniques of managing the amputee or the person requiring orthotics management. Instructions in new techniques of measuring, fabricating and fitting prostheses and orthoses, as well as current concepts of treatment, are emphasized.