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Award shortlist for online healthcare course

COVID-19 Critical Care, a free short online course delivered on the FutureLearn platform, has been shortlisted for Best Small-Scale Project  in the Smarter Working Live Awards

The Smarter Working Live Awards celebrate innovation, collaboration and excellence, and recognise the ability by individuals, teams and organisations to drive positive change.

In March 2020, clinicians teaching on the University of Edinburgh’s online Masters in Critical Care recognised the lack of targeted training for healthcare professionals working with critically ill COVID-19 patients. To provide urgent support at scale, we rapidly assembled a team comprising individuals from the University of Edinburgh, FutureLearn, NHS Lothian, the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh (RCPE) and NHS Education Scotland to assess how existing MSc learning resources could be made openly available to those who needed them most.  

The course was envisioned, designed and developed in just ten days on the open learning platform, FutureLearn. We devised an online survey to understand the learning needs of NHS frontline staff and a wider clinical audience, enabling us to identify which resources would best support frontline staff working in critical care environments. Academics allowed their content to be made freely and openly available for learners. Publishers Elsevier and McGraw Hill gave open access to several world-class textbooks. Experts from the critical care community in Edinburgh led parts of the course design and content development. Commercial interests were set aside in order to allow the rapid delivery of this vital educational resource to all comers, at no cost to the learner.   

The content has recently been updated to reflect changes in clinical practice learnt during the pandemic, and the course made permanently open and available ensuring that the resources continue to provide key support to those who need it most.  

I found this to be an amazing course with a lot of detailed, relevant content presented in a logical sequence. Access to online textbooks and videos from doctors in other countries were bonuses. Demonstration videos, pictures and graphs enhanced the learning experience. I  strongly recommend this course to anyone who is likely to become involved in treating COVID-19 patients. The self-care contains a lot of advice and techniques that transfer well into other stressful worksites.

Learner on COVID-19 Critical Care

Online delivery and repurposing of existing content at speed enabled more than 50,000 learners from 200 countries to access key materials on demand for free during the pandemic through our short online course, COVID-19 Critical Care.  This course has been a true example of how OER can offer worldwide crisis solutions.