Massive Online Open Courses as a way of engaging rural health professionals and communities in open discussions about death and dying.

Dr Lauren Miller-Lewis1, Professor Jennifer Tieman1, Deb Rawlings1, Professor Deborah Parker2, Dr Christine Sanderson3

1College Of Nursing And Health Sciences, Flinders University., Adelaide, Australia, 2Faculty of Health, University of Technology Sydney, Sydney, Australia, 3Faculty of Health, University of Technology Sydney; and Calvary Health Care Kogarah, , Australia

Abstract:

Background: Massive-Open-Online-Courses (MOOCs) have changed the way in which geographically-dispersed health professionals and the community can engage with each other. MOOCs are freely available short online courses that make use of the digital environment to deliver educational content and create socially-constructed learning and exchange. CareSearch, an evidence based palliative care website, offered the Dying2Learn MOOC, which aimed to build community awareness and acceptance of death as a natural part of life.

Methods: The free five-week course provided the opportunity to discuss and collaboratively learn about issues around living, dying and palliative care. The platform enabled evaluation of participant engagement, learning gains and pre-post attitudinal change. Data was examined using mixed-methods.

Results: 1156 people joined the online course in 2016, and 1960 joined in 2017, demonstrating a need for online forums offering the chance to explore death and dying from social perspectives. In 2017, most MOOC participants resided in Australia, with 38% living in regional and rural areas. Over two-thirds of participants identified as health professionals (19% of which were in Allied Health), with the remainder being members of the general community. Both health professional and general community course participants reported feeling motivated and empowered, became more comfortable with talking about death, and reported high levels of satisfaction with the experience.

Conclusions:The Dying2Learn MOOC was well-utilised by health professionals and the general community in rural Australia. This highlights the potential of these innovative online digital platforms for increasing community awareness of death and palliative care, and for health professional education.


Biography:

Lauren’s background is in health and developmental psychology, with a PhD in this field. Dr Miller-Lewis is part of the CareSearch team at Flinders University. CareSearch is a website that aims to provide trustworthy information about palliative care to the Australian community, and the best palliative care research evidence to health professionals. In her position at CareSearch, Lauren brings experience in psychology, health research, and health professional education. Her role at CareSearch involves website content development, research, and facilitating online learning and engagement for health professionals and the community.