What should be included in a #MedEdMOOC? Social Media in Continuing Professional Development

After previously considering what a MOOC for OT, and indeed for healthcare should look like, I am delighted to report that plans are underway to develop the first MOOC for Healthcare Professionals and other interested people, and the name chosen is MedEdMOOC (Medical Education MOOC).

One of the things to be considered, is what content we would wish to see included in the MOOC. I’m hoping to use some posts to record my hopes and fears for the MOOC, and I look forward to reading your comments about what I’ve written.

First, a quick reminder of what a MOOC is.

Social Media in CPD (Continuing Professional Development) for HCP (Healthcare Professionals)

One of my passions is the use of online technology and social media by HCPs to enhance and update their skills and experience, in order to offer the very best care to their patients. This can take many forms, and perhaps one of the nearest “real life” analogies I have is that of a peer supervision group.

Within peer supervision, a group of people without large differentials in status and seniority come together to share their thoughts, feelings, challenges and successes around their practice. Whilst patient confidentiality is observed during such sessions, challenges in particular cases may be shared with the group in order to get renewed insights and ideas about how to move the treament on. Additional insight may feed back into the case formulation, and therefore affect the future direction of treatment. Similarly, where a success has been hard won by our clients, the delight of the therapist involved might be shared with the group, who might be invited to help reflect on what the critical factors might have been.

Other ideas can be introduced, for example in a Journal Club, where people discuss and critically evaluate as a group recent research relevant to their treatment area(s). New assessments may be discussed, evaluated, or even tried out on each other. Audit tools, ways to collate evidence and interpret statistical information- anything at all that affects the way we can provide care is up for discussion.

Peer supervision is a time efficient way of supporting occupational therapists and HCPs in practice, using the benefits of group process in addition to the benefits of the individual reflective process. In some ways, it can be seen as the equivalent to a therapeutic group as used within OT practice- in that group process and support from peers is as important as the quality of the supervision received.

I see many parallels in the use of peer supervision offline and the use of communities of practice that form online through social media use, or by clustering around topics of mutual interest. One of the differences is that in the online space through the use of social media, this process often happens in a public space, rather than a private one. This changes the experience of membership of the group.

It contains opportunities as well as challenges:


  • By extending the membership beyond natural boundaries such as the employer or the physical location, groups may coalesce around mutual interest where before insufficient members were present in any single location.
  • Groups can be flexible, and a fluid membership can mean that new members can join the group at any time.
  • The non-heirarchical nature of the medium supports the formation of a group of “peers”, despite differences in status that might be apparent in “real life”. This can offer new opportunities to freely share with each other.
  • Groups can offer opportunities to develop confidence and skills in presenting information in an online format.
  • Group membership can lead to “real-life” relationships and support in an offline setting.
  • The public nature of the setting may serve as a reminder of acceptable public behaviour and mores related to professional role, embedding these behaviours in further online activity such as social networking; in line with professional guidance.
  • The public nature of the group means that insights from experts can be fed directly into the group, ensuring accuracy of the information and relevance of the opinions present.
  • The transparency of this approach may be attractive to HCPs who find it in line with their personal philosophy.
  • Patients and the public may be reassured to understand that this process is part of the “back end” of therapeutic work or medicine, ensuring the support they receive is evidence based, and the basis for clinical decision making may be better understood as a result.


  • The public nature of the group can inhibit the most frank discussions of difficulties in practice.
  • Where social media guidance is lacking or insufficient, mistakes around information governance, or exposure of the individual practitioner to risk, may occur.
  • Rich information captured in body language and non-verbal cues in the “real-life” group setting may be lost in the online group.
  • Engagement in the activities may not be valued by the employer and traditional line-management structure, undermining the value of the process.
  • Participants could undervalue the process because of the fluidity and ease of membership, thus “drop out” before real benefits are gained.
  • Disruptive influences could “flood” the online space making positive progress of the group within the space difficult.

It is my hope that the MOOC will offer space not only to develop CPD for HCP, but also offer a structure around which HCP can reflect and discuss these challenges and opportunities presented by CPD in a community based in an online environment.

These are my initial thoughts about the value of looking at CPD within a healthcare MOOC, what are yours?


I am an Occupational Therapist, who writes about health, particularly mental health. I am interested in social media and Web 2.0, and where these technological advances can support wellness and health.

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Posted in CPD, Evidence based practice, Reflection, Risk, Social Media
12 comments on “What should be included in a #MedEdMOOC? Social Media in Continuing Professional Development
  1. kirstyes says:

    Hi Claire – my comments copied from Facebook
    The journal club idea is good. We use a learning through discussion method with the students that would be good to use in a synchronous environment.

    I’d also like to see people exploring use of ‘non-written’ technology to explore critical reflection as some people do find writing difficult. E.g voice chat, video, online mind-mapping etc.

  2. Milton says:

    One word: Mendeley. The public groups can be fantastic for ongoing PD.

  3. marion waite says:

    Hi Claire

    My colleague George Roberts at Oxford Brookes University has sent me the link to your blog.
    George, Jenny Mackness and I are developing a MOOC for teaching and learning in higher education.
    I am from a health care background (nursing, midwifery & health visiting) and I am on a steep but exciting learning curve about MOOCs. Having said this it is obvious to me to have a health care MOOC.
    Evidence-based practice and reflection obviously should be in there. I teach post graduate evidence based practice in health care online and try to incorporate journal club learning activities, so your idea of including this in a MOOC is spot on (I think).
    I am not sure if you are familiar with the Centre for Evidence Based Medicine in Oxford, well they run a jisc e-mail group, which is highly interactive and aimed at promoting teaching and practising evidence-based healthcare. Personally I think it has outgrown an e-mail environment and would be better as a MOOC, take a look and see what you think https://www.jiscmail.ac.uk/cgi-bin/webadmin?A0=EVIDENCE-BASED-HEALTH
    I see Milton has recommended Mendelay, take a look at Zotero too!
    When will your health care MOOC be running? I would really like to participate.

    • Claire says:

      How wonderful to receive your comment, Marion!

      I think our MOOCs may well run alongside each other- ours is currently planned for the middle of May to the end of June. I am very interested to explore the possibilities for our participants to have an even deeper and richer learning experience as a result of the extra opportunities that the two MOOCs will offer- let’s get in touch and have a Skype chat or Google+ Hangout about it, sometime. Ive passed on the information about this to the wider MOOC organising group, I know they will be as excited about it as I am.

  4. [...] following, at a distance, the development of #mededmooc, a mooc for health care professionals [see here and here and here]. There it appears that it is all in a wide open planning phase. Everything is up [...]

    • Claire says:

      Thanks so much for the link to my blog- I am excited to learn that your MOOC is going to run alongside ours, and hope this will reflect an even richer diversity of content for our participants. Fantastic stuff.

  5. [...] following, at a distance, the development of #mededmooc, a mooc for health care professionals [see here and here and here]. There it appears that it is all in a wide open planning phase. Everything is up [...]

  6. [...] , currently titled #MedEdMOOC is planned to take place from mid-May to June 2012. See here, here and here for earlier blogs about [...]

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I'm an OT called Claire. I write about health, particularly mental health, and also about Social Media and Web 2.0 technology. I am particularly interested where these two fields overlap.
I believe that we all hold the potential for Recovery- let's grow together.

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