MOOCS and Health Sciences Education: Hype or Disruption?

Presented by Natalie Lafferty on February 6, 2014 at 12:00 am

In educational circles 2013 was labelled the year of the MOOC – the massive open online course. It was the year that MOOCs were set to go main stream and Udacity, Coursera and edX were constantly in the news attracting ever higher numbers of students on to their courses. MOOCS were going to disrupt education, there was talk of only 10 universities existing in 50 year’ time and academics, including in the health sciences, became concerned about the potential for their departments to close and in turn lose their jobs. By the end of the year however, the positivity around MOOCs was beginning to wane. Column inches turned to news of low completion rates, poor pedagogy and MOOCs nearing the peak of the hype cycle.

This presentation will explore the evolution of MOOCs and the role they might play in the future of health science education. Do they have the potential to disrupt or are we just witnessing hype at play? We will look at the different approaches to MOOCs and means of accrediting learning on them such as certificates of completion for which there is a fee and open badges. We will also consider whether we might see MOOCs accredited as part of health science/professions degrees or for CME? Finally the session will discuss whether MOOC type approaches might offer new opportunities to innovate in teaching and learning that also support inter-professional learning and help our students to develop skills for lifelong learning.

Presenter Bios

Natalie Lafferty is Director of Technology in Learning at the College of Medicine, Dentistry and Nursing at the University of Dundee. She also leads the Technology and Innovation in Learning Team, which supports lecturers and clinical teachers to apply technology to enhance and support teaching and learning. Previously she was the Chief Operations Officer for the International Virtual Medical School collaboration in elearning in medical education and worked at the Centre for Medical Education in Dundee.

Natalie LaffertyIn addition to the development of online learning resources to support the undergraduate curriculum, Natalie has a particular interest in the design and usability of online learning environments in undergraduate medical education. She is also interested in the role that Web 2.0 technologies can play in enhancing teaching and learning and helping students to become producers of learning and develop personalised learning environments that support lifelong learning and a keen advocate of free open access medical education – #FOAMed. Natalie co-leads the #ukmeded Twitter chat and is @nlafferty on Twiiter. She also blogs about technology in medical education and her own experiences of using technologies including on MOOCs at