Suffolk University has created its first MOOC, The History of Boston, a free online course that will engage Bostonians, tourists, history buffs and students worldwide with the Boston events and people that brought the spark of democracy to the world. The course will be available beginning Oct. 20, 2014, and registration is now open.

The History of Boston offers a chronicle of the city from the 1600s to today. It begins with the Puritan settlers and tells how their government and culture led to the American Revolution. It describes the abolitionist movement in Boston and its role in the Civil War. And it lays the groundwork for understanding later developments, such as the rise of the Kennedys and their role in America’s civil rights struggle. 

Interactive features

The course features videos, discussion boards, social media and games that can be used to earn and share badges. It can be accessed on smartphones or tablets by people walking on the Boston streets where history was made, and a geolocation feature brings them directly to site-specific videos and information.

Suffolk Professor and noted Boston historian Robert Allison offers historical insight and serves as a guide through the course’s virtual tours of Boston landmarks, including the Freedom Trail, USS Constitution, Harbor Islands, Old North Church, Faneuil Hall and African Meeting House. He introduces and interviews key figures such as current Mayor Marty Walsh and City Hall predecessors Tom Menino and Ray Flynn, cultural mavens Beverly Morgan Welch of the Museum of African American History and author William Martin, and activist Mel King.

“Teaching people about the history of Boston is my passion,” said Allison, “Boston has always been a dynamic city with creative and courageous people working to build a better world. That’s why Boston remains revolutionary to this day, redefining education, the arts, government and medicine and sending its ideas out to the global community.”

Inserting fun into learning

“There’s no reason that learning can’t be fun, and we created an interactive, fact-filled course that will attract a wide range of people – from out-of-town students beginning their studies in Boston to businesspeople coming into town for meetings,” said David Kusek of Digital Cowboys, which collaborated with the University in creating The History of Boston MOOC.

Through the course, Suffolk University aims to show Bostonians, visitors, history buffs and students worldwide how much of modern American culture and innovation sprang from the people and history of Boston.

The History of Boston course is hosted on the Canvas Network.