MOOCs and massive organisational professional development

We are moving into an era in healthcare where it is becoming increasingly cheaper to capture and generate information about an individual’s genetic make-up and where we are rapidly developing our understanding of all of this genomic information and its contribution to our health. The developments made possible by new genetic technologies will influence diagnosis and treatment of an increasing number of conditions in the coming years.

Consequently, there is a massive need for healthcare professionals at all levels to understand these new developments and their implications for patient care in their area. In my role as manager of the Digital Team at the National Genetics and Genomics Education Centre, we’re involved in creating educational materials for the fledgling NHS Genomics Education Programme. For example, we’re currently working on an online course in bioinformatics targeted principally at healthcare scientists across all of the healthcare science disciplines.

However, I'm convinced that there is a really solid case that can be made for MOOCs in meeting such a huge professional development and awareness raising challenge. The potential and ideal audience for educational material about genomic medicine is so large and varied, the healthcare sector is so large and also so fragmented, and the need is so urgent, that I’m convinced there is a place for vocational MOOCs as part of the solution to the problem of educating a huge number of people in so many different roles (and large numbers of interested patients) about genomics.

I recently took part in a really stimulating workshop organised by Donald Clark and the UfI Charitable Trust to inform and shape recommendations to the trustees of the charity about how it might invest in activity to nurture the development of MOOCs to support vocational learning in the UK.

As part of the day I was recorded (looking very sleep-deprived) making this case to camera the video below:

Further video from the day can also be found on the Primer on 'MOOCs & VOOCs' page on the UfI website].(
Image CC BY-ND Alessandro