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Table of Contents
BRIEF REVIEW
Year : 2021  |  Volume : 4  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 309-311

Encouraging enrollment of medical students in massive open online courses


1 Medical Education Unit Coordinator and Member of the Institute Research Council, Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth – Deemed to be University, Ammapettai, Nellikuppam, Chengalpet District, Tamil Nadu, India
2 Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth – Deemed to be University, Ammapettai, Nellikuppam, Chengalpet District, Tamil Nadu, India

Date of Submission29-Dec-2020
Date of Decision11-Feb-2021
Date of Acceptance18-Mar-2021
Date of Web Publication26-Jul-2021

Correspondence Address:
Saurabh RamBihariLal Shrivastava
MD, FAIMER, PGDHHM, DHRM, FCS, ACME, Professor, Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth (SBV) – Deemed to be University, Thiruporur - Guduvancherry Main Road, Ammapettai, Nellikuppam, Chengalpet District - 603 108, Tamil Nadu
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/jnsm.jnsm_174_20

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  Abstract 


Massive open online courses (MOOCs) commonly refer to a group of courses that are offered on a wide range of interesting topics on the online platform and are generally open for all. An extensive search of materials related to the topic was carried out in the PubMed search engine and relevant research articles published in the period 2016–2019 were included in the review. Amid the ongoing coronavirus disease-2019 pandemic, an exponential rise in the demand for online courses has been reported owing to the reduction in the possibility of conventional face-to-face teaching. These courses help the medical students to become self-directed and lifelong learners and eventually play a significant role in meeting the vision of a competent Indian Medical Graduate. In fact, the Medical Council of India recognized the utility of such courses and has made it mandatory for all the postgraduates and even for teaching staff to enroll in the basic course in Biomedical research as a part of enhancing their exposure to research. In conclusion, the enrollment of medical students in MOOC courses can prove to be extremely useful for them in refining their professional skills. However, it is essential to guide the students to opt for the right course out of the available wide range of courses, so that they take a well-informed decision and get benefited from job perspective as well.

Keywords: Coronavirus disease-2019, medical education, massive open online course


How to cite this article:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS. Encouraging enrollment of medical students in massive open online courses. J Nat Sci Med 2021;4:309-11

How to cite this URL:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS. Encouraging enrollment of medical students in massive open online courses. J Nat Sci Med [serial online] 2021 [cited 2021 Oct 19];4:309-11. Available from: https://www.jnsmonline.org/text.asp?2021/4/3/309/322326




  Introduction Top


In today's competitive world, most of the students select their professional course either by choice or more often based on the seats available for them in the competitive examinations. Once they start pursuing their professional course, it can turn out to be extremely stressful, if they have not developed an inclination for the profession. The probability of occurrence of such an event is quite high in the field of medical education, and thus the need of elective courses has come into great demand. These elective courses not only give an opportunity to refine the skills of medical students in their preferred area but also gives them an extra edge in comparison to their other colleagues in their future professional career.[1]


  Methods Top


An extensive search of all materials related to the topic was carried out in the PubMed search engine. Relevant research articles focusing on medical massive open online courses (MOOCs) published in the period 2016–2019 were included in the review. Keywords used in the search include Medical MOOC, and coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19), and MOOC. A total of nine studies similar to current study objectives were identified initially, of which, four were excluded due to the unavailability of the complete version of the articles. Overall, five articles were selected based on the suitability with the current review objectives and analyzed. The collected information is presented under the following subheadings, namely, MOOC, COVID-19 pandemic and online courses, Medical MOOCs, lessons from the field, implications for practice, and implications for research.

Massive open online courses

MOOCs commonly permit thousands of students to join in a single batch and because of the asynchronous nature of the course, the students can learn in their free time without compromising their academics.[2] These courses are being offered through a number of platforms such as Coursera, FutureLearn, Moodle, and Swayam.[2],[3]

Coronavirus disease-2019 pandemic and online courses

Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, an exponential rise in the demand for online courses has been reported owing to the reduction in the possibility of conventional face-to-face teaching.[3],[4] A number of courses have been offered on the online platform and many interested candidates have opted for the same while being at home. This includes the courses which were offered by the World Health Organization itself regarding training the general population about different aspects of COVID-19.

Medical massive open online courses

Medical MOOCs offer a unique opportunity for the medical students to gain deep insights into the fields of their interest. These courses have already attracted lots of attention to the accredited continuing medical education sessions and play a defining role in supporting the medical school curriculum.[1],[3] Further, these courses tend to encourage interprofessional education, complements blended learning, and play an important part in the continuous professional development of the student.[2],[4] These courses help the medical students to become self-directed and lifelong learners and eventually play a significant role in meeting the vision of a competent medical graduate.[5]

Further, these courses are a good place for networking of medical students to work with other participants who have common interests and can even collaborate on a later date.[1],[2] SWAYAM is one of the India's national MOOC platforms, where the medical students can enroll for free in all courses and have to pay a nominal fee, only if the student needs a certificate.[6] In fact, the Medical Council of India recognized the utility of such courses and has made it mandatory for all the postgraduates and even for teaching staff (for being eligible for promotion) to enroll and get certified in the Basic course in Biomedical research.[6]

Pros of medical massive open online courses

In general, MOOC courses are convenient as they bring education to our doorstep, gives an option of flexibility by enabling learners to learn at their own pace, offers better attention to the students, and expands the vision of the learners as they get a chance to interact with students from different parts of the world. As the students learn on their own, it acts as a strong foundation for becoming a lifelong learner, which is one of the main roles in the making of an Indian Medical Graduate. Further, as most of the courses are offered free of cost, a large proportion of learners can avail the benefit, especially considering the fact that these courses are being run by top professionals and agencies, with a careful and need-based selection of the course content. In addition, the course permits enrollment of all students without setting much of eligibility criteria, so that learners from all professional fields can utilize the transmitted knowledge and bring about comprehensive improvement among themselves.[1],[2],[3]

Cons of medical massive open online courses

As the students have the liberty to postpone their learning, more often than not, students might take more time to complete their course. It is quite essential for the students to have better time management skills and be an active learner to eventually meet the intended gains. We are really not sure that whether students are capable of handling their own learning and obviously, it creates a sense of isolation among the learners, which in turn might affect the process of knowledge and skill acquisition. Further, to enhance the acceptance of the course, the teachers have to put in loads of effort in terms of planning the context, range of educational experience, coherence of the curriculum, practical experiences, and assessment of the learning.

The opposite side of not paying the course fee makes the learner relaxed as there is no obligation on them to complete the course and thus a high rate of attrition has been reported among the coursetakers. Because there is not much or nil interaction with the facilitators if a student does not understand a topic, s/he cannot get enough attention from the teacher. Further, as these courses are offered through online media and the students have to just browse the topic, it becomes difficult for them to pay attention for the entire duration of the course. Moreover, it is a challenging task to initiate effective discussion among the participants and even the teachers assume the role of a glorified teacher, with not much to do for the benefit of students.[2],[3],[4]

Better usage of massive open online courses by students

The medical students can enhance their learning and get benefitted by the MOOC courses provided they enroll in those courses which appeal to them either for their sake of interests or for enhancing their vocational opportunities. It is quite essential that there has to be some form of prior planning which enables contact with the teachers either on the synchronous or asynchronous platform. Further, to ensure deep learning, the course administrators should plan for the inclusion of clinical and contextual forms of learning and it is always nice to create a system for delivering feedback. The administrators should ensure that assessments are included in the course periodically, with more focus toward the assessment of critical thinking, clinical reasoning, and problem-solving skills. In addition, eligibility criteria and expectations from the potential participants can also be defined for the MOOCs, so that students take a well-informed call about joining in a specific course.

Adoption of the grading system

In accordance with the proposed National Education Policy 2020, it is a welcome step that all the MOOC courses should adopt a grading system instead of the scoring system. The adoption of grading system enables the medical students to accumulate additional credits, much more than what they will do as a part of the traditional medical graduation course. In addition, the students can utilize these grades for their job opportunities and it also favors the transfer of the students from one university to another. However, grading is a challenging task and appropriate software needs to be employed for the calculation of the grades.

Practical experience

At Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth, Puducherry, and in all of its constituent colleges, including Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, the internal quality assurance cell has identified a set of courses (such as Designing Learner-centric MOOC's for designing a MOOC course, Biostatistics and design of experiment Course for improving the application of biostatistics, Health Research Fundamentals Course for enhancing research skills, Quality Research Methods and Research Writing Course for improving the research writing skills, Intellectual Property Rights course for improving the orientation about intellectual property, copyrights, patents, etc.), which can be beneficial for the faculty members. The University is encouraging the staff to join in these MOOC courses to ensure capacity building and professional development. Although the popularity of Medical MOOCs is on the rise, we should acknowledge the limitations of these courses, such as their utility in training students in clinical skills. Similarly, even medical students have been encouraged to enroll in MOOC courses and enhance their learning as well as career progression. The enrolled students and faculty members have shown a better understanding about the topics after completion of their courses.

Implications for practice

As the online MOOC courses have remarkable visibility and to some extent credibility as well, the adoption of such courses needs to be encouraged among both undergraduate and postgraduate medical students. At the same time, the faculty members should also be motivated to opt for such courses to improve their pedagogic skills, research skills, handling computer software, etc.

Implications for research

It is the need of the hour to explore the role of such courses in providing additional Academic Credits in both undergraduate and postgraduate programs. The inclusion of such an element will definitely encourage students from not only medical field but also even other fields to be happily ready for joining in such multiple courses and availing the benefit of these courses.


  Conclusion Top


The enrollment of medical students in MOOC courses can prove to be extremely useful for them in refining their professional skills. However, it is essential to guide the students to opt for the right course out of the available wide range of courses, so that they take a well-informed decision and get benefited from job perspective as well.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.



 
  References Top

1.
Robinson R. Delivering a medical school elective with massive open online course (MOOC) technology. PeerJ 2016;4:e2343.  Back to cited text no. 1
    
2.
Swinnerton BJ, Morris NP, Hotchkiss S, Pickering JD. The integration of an anatomy massive open online course (MOOC) into a medical anatomy curriculum. Anat Sci Educ 2017;10:53-67.  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.
Zhang Q, He YJ, Zhu YH, Dai MC, Pan MM, Wu JQ, et al. The evaluation of online course of traditional Chinese medicine for MBBS international students during the COVID-19 epidemic period. Integr Med Res 2020;9:100449.  Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.
Zhou T, Huang S, Cheng J, Xiao Y. the distance teaching practice of combined mode of massive open online course micro-video for interns in emergency department during the COVID-19 epidemic period. Telemed J E Health 2020;26:584-8.  Back to cited text no. 4
    
5.
Chabriere E, Parola P. Malaria: Massive open online courses MOOC. Travel Med Infect Dis 2016;14:636.  Back to cited text no. 5
    
6.
Swayam. Couse Catalog; 2020. https://swayam.gov.in/explorer. [Last accessed on 2020 Dec 29].  Back to cited text no. 6
    




 

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