What are MOOCs, and what can they do for an NHS Trust?

MOOCSo if you haven’t heard of MOOCs yet, here we go.

MOOC stands for Massive Open Online Course. Coined in 2008 (yes, 5 years ago) these courses have exploded across the internet over the past two years.

Offering free, interactive access to courses covering thousands of subjects from 100s of universities –  including many of the most prestigious academic institutions in the world – lifelong learning may finally have become truly achievable

The “open” in MOOC really means open. Anyone with an internet connection can enjoy access to a university standard course taught by a leader in the field. I won’t bore you with the details – just Google MOOC or checkout EdX, Coursera or Udacity as a first step into the MOOCy waters.

So what does this mean for GSTT and its staff?

It is clearly recognised that personal and professional development is the responsibility of the employer to encourage and the employer to pursue. The benefits to both, though hard to measure, are undeniable. These benefits can be realised if the Trust chose to support, encourage and enable staff who take advantage of the opportunities provided by MOOCs.

That support takes three very simple actions:

1. Publicise relevant courses through GTi and other internal communications channels

2. Include MOOC participation in personal and professional development (PPD) points calculations

3. Open the IT fearwall so that staff can access the necessary YouTube and Vimeo videos  and communicate with their classmates via Twitter & Facebook in the workplace

There are further benefits to be gained. For instance, staff that are taking the same course could get together to form local study groups and connect with those in other Hospitals, Counties and Countries who already display a shared interest.

On a personal note – I have completed three MOOCs since November last year. One in Data-visualisation and design, one in using R analytic software and one in Data analysis and statistical modelling. I am signed up this year for a course called The maths of philosophy, and yesterday I joined the Coursera course  Introduction to Data Science … which probably says a lot more about me than you wanted to know.

My point across these proposals is the same: by opening up our doors to the wide world of the web we stand to gain far more than we might ever lose. The only thing on the other side of the Trust’s fearwall is opportunity.

Here’s  the bit at the bottom. You can talk to me by leaving a comment on this blog, following me on twitter @brynrwilliams, using the #CoGElections2013 hashtag or connecting with me on LinkedIn uk.linkedin.com/in/brynrwilliams

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