Background: Massive open online courses (MOOCs) have become immensely popular in a short span of time. However, there is very little research exploring MOOCs in the discipline of health and medicine.
Objective: We aim to provide a review of MOOCs related to health and medicine offered by various MOOC platforms in 2013, by analyzing and comparing the various offerings, their target audience, typical length of course, and credentials offered. We also discuss opportunities and challenges presented by MOOCs in health and medicine.
Methods: Health and medicine-related MOOCs were gathered using several methods to ensure the richness and completeness of data. Identified MOOC platform websites were used to gather the lists of offerings. In parallel, these MOOC platforms were contacted to access official data on their offerings. Two MOOC aggregator sites (Class Central and MOOC List) were also consulted to gather data on MOOC offerings. Eligibility criteria were defined to concentrate on the courses that were offered in 2013 and primarily on the subject of health and medicine. All language translations in this paper were done using Google Translate.
Results: The search identified 225 courses, of which 98 were eligible for the review. Over half (58%, 57/98) of the MOOCs considered were offered on the Coursera platform, and 94% (92/98) of all the MOOCs were offered in English. Universities offered 90 MOOCs, and the John Hopkins University offered the largest number of MOOCs (12/90). Only three MOOCs were offered by developing countries (China, West Indies, and Saudi Arabia). The duration of MOOCs varied from 3-20 weeks with an average length of 6.7 weeks. On average, MOOCs expected a participant to work on the material for 4.2 hours a week. Verified certificates were offered by 14 MOOCs, while three others offered other professional recognition.
Conclusions: The review presents evidence to suggest that MOOCs can be used as a way to provide continuous medical education. It also shows the potential of MOOCs as a means of increasing health literacy among the public.
Keywords: computer-assisted instruction; continuing education; eLearning; education; health education.