Online course with truly global outreach

Several thousand students worldwide have signed up for the University of Bergen’s (UiB) second Massive Open Online Course. For several of them, this is their first chance to study occupational health.

IMPROVING OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH: Providing better knowledge on how to make the workplace safer has been one of the main goals of the online course. Using recordings of work situations in Tanzania provides students with relevant situations for their studies.

Main content

Every day, 6,300 people die as a result of work accidents or work-related diseases. A new online course from UiB seeks to prevent workers from injuries and death. The main focus group is health personnel in developing countries.

When the online course started in March 2016, around 5,300 participants had signed up. Bente Moen, professor and leader of the Centre for International Health at UiB, is more than pleased with the number of students.

”An online course such as this reaches many who would not have access to this knowledge otherwise,” she says.

Providing relevant knowledge

Moen explains that there is a lack of literature on the subject, and that existing literature often is written with Western contexts in mind. Many of the students that undertake the course are from countries in Asia and Africa, where there in some cases is no education on the subject of occupational health at all. Parts of the recordings and video shoots for the course are made in Tanzania, showing actual situations. The goal is to provide instructions that are relevant for the course.

The course spans six weeks, and Moen and her colleagues are actively following online discussions connected to the course. She has not seen a single negative comment so far.

Good planning is required

The course is made in collaboration with researchers from UiB together with colleagues in Tanzania and Ethiopia, and published in partnership with FutureLearn (see FACTS).

Lecturing through an online course is quite different from a regular lecture, according to Moen.

”Everything has to be carefully planned beforehand, there is little room to be impulsive. This makes the lecture very thorough and complete, however. First and foremost, this has been an exciting experience,” says Moen.

In autumn 2015, UiB launched its first open online course: Causes of Climate Change, giving insight on climate challenges. Both courses are produced by the DigUiB Learning and Communications Lab, collaborating with UiB researchers.              

“The UiB strategy for 2016-2022 turns digital education arenas into an important part of both our education, beyond qualification and our global involvement. What Bente Moen and her colleagues have accomplished with this online course is a fantastic example of an activity fulfilling UiB’s strategic intentions,” says Oddrun Samdal, Vice-Rector for Education at the University of Bergen.