Does social learning increase engagement in online courses for healthcare professionals?

Veena Rodrigues, Emily Player

Research output: Contribution to conferencePosterpeer-review


Background: All postgraduate trainees in the UK receive clinical supervision as part of their training. It is recognized that clinical supervisors need training. 1 Traditionally this has been delivered via face to face courses but with increasing time pressures and complex shift patterns, accessing such courses is difficult. To meet this challenge, we developed a two-week massive open online course (MOOC) to provide technology enhanced learning to clinical supervisors. 2 The course was conceived, developed and facilitated by a group of experienced medical educators from various specialties, including a postgraduate doctor. We used the FutureLearn platform which promotes social learning through conversations and interaction at every step. 3 This facilitates the building of communities of practice that facilitate learner interaction, collaboration, and learning. We explored learner perceptions of the course, in particular the value of social learning in the context of busy healthcare professionals. Methodology: Data were obtained from pre- and post-course surveys for each run of the MOOC (March, July and November 2015), FutureLearn course statistics, and thematic analysis of learner comments.Results & DiscussionWe had 7,225 course registrants over the year though 6% of these left the course without starting. Of the 3,055 learners who began the course, 35% (1073/3055) were social learners. An average of 31% (960/3055) learners participated fully; this is significantly higher than the FutureLearn average of 22%. 4 Responses to pre-course surveys suggest that 68% of the learners worked full-time, with over 75% accessing the course at home or while commuting, using laptops, smart phones and tablet devices.Learners found the bite sized videos, animations and steps manageable at the end of a busy working day. Learner comments suggest that interprofessional discussions and social learning made the learning environment more engaging despite having several hundred international participants on the course during each run. Many of the discussions were rated as high in quality and led to sharing of narratives and personal reflections, as well as resources relevant to the discussions. Limitations common to other MOOCs include a large number who enrolled but did not take up the course. Conclusion: Social learning added a new dimension and provided the interaction possible in face to face courses whilst being delivered in an online environment. Further research is needed to assess how learners use the new knowledge and skills in their workplace settings.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2016
EventASME annual national conference 2016 - Belfast, United Kingdom
Duration: 6 Jul 20168 Jul 2016


ConferenceASME annual national conference 2016
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom

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