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Everyone can do something - Organ Donation MOOC launched

1 Aug 2017 - 11:45
Organ Donation MOOC launch

Picture: Dr David Thomson with Rondine Carstens (digital media designer), Tasneem Jaffer (learning designer) and Kristi Edwardes (video producer) who helped create the course.

With August being Organ Donor Awareness month, it seemed like the perfect time to officially launch UCT’s latest Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) from the Faculty of Health Sciences, Organ Donation: From Death to Life. CILT’s Sukaina Walji, the MOOCs Project Manager welcomed everyone to the celebration of UCT’s ninth MOOC, and fourth from the Health Sciences Faculty. A short introductory video showcasing the university’s MOOCs and its educators gave the audience a glimpse of some of the stories and impacts the MOOCs have had on educators and learners.

The evening kicked off with a few words from the Acting Dean of the Centre for Higher Education Development (CHED) Associate Professor Mbulungeni Madiba who admitted that he was surprised at how little he knew about organ donation before going to look at the course. He noted the purpose of MOOCs was to reach audiences beyond UCT and drew attention to the commonality of this goal with the work of CHED, which aims to address the challenge of access. 

Before Dr David Thomson, Critical Care Specialist and Transplant Surgeon at Groote Schuur Hospital and the Lead Educator of Organ Donation: From Death to Life took to the floor, the Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences Professor Bongani Mayosi commented that it was his hope that the impact of the MOOC would go beyond the university and have a positive impact in communities.

As he spoke about the experience of making the MOOC, Dr Thomson had the audience in laughter when describing how he and the MOOC production team had to convince people to “act” in the MOOC in order to film reconstructed medical procedures. He remarked “how do you find a picture to represent a wrapped body? You find someone at CILT (Centre for Innovation in Learning and Teaching) and get your colleagues to wrap them!" But beyond the lighthearted jokes, the importance of his work, of which the MOOC is a part, was made apparent when he commented that in South Africa, a country of around 55 million people, there are only 200 000 registered organ donors, "we've come a long way since the first heart transplant…and yet the gap between those who need a transplant and donors widens" he said. When he mentioned that 80 percent of families refuse when approached for organ donation once a loved one has been medically declared brain dead, many in the audience were taken aback. In offering a MOOC to inform medical professionals about the key issues around organ donation, Dr Thomson hopes to make a dent in these worrying statistics and stated that the course is in the process of being accredited for Continuing Professional Development.

He reiterated his belief that education is the best way to improve the state of organ donation in South Africa and in his words, “no-one can do everything, but everyone can do something.” 

Dr Juan Klopper, Head of Postgraduate Surgical Research and the Head of Surgical Education, and the creator of the highly successful Understanding Clinical Research: Behind the Statistics MOOC shared a similar sentiment as he chaired a panel discussion on the experiences of making MOOCs and how they could be used in formal teaching and staff development. He was joined on the panel by Associate Professor Susan Levine (lead educator, Medicine and the Arts: Humanising Healthcare), Dr Thomson (Organ Donation) , Dr Judith McKenzie and Mr Ikechukwu Nwanze (Education for All: Disability, Diversity and Inclusion) and Deputy Dean of postgraduate studies in the faculty of Health Sciences Professor Sue Kidson.

The panelists shared their experiences and emphasised the role MOOCs could play in student learning - both with their own students and more broadly. Professor Kidson commented that MOOCs could be used to prepare students when coming to university while Mr Nwanze shared that three students had enrolled for a PG Diploma in their department after having taken the Education for All MOOC. A/Prof Susan Levine told the story how she used her MOOC to offer a “flipped classroom” for her Master’s students.

At the end of the panel Dr Klopper reiterated how grateful he is to be part of a faculty and university where making MOOCs is possible. He called on the university community to recognise that “we have unique knowledge and unique skills and we have a duty to do this for people everywhere”. 

Director of CILT, Associate Professor Laura Czerniewicz closed off the event by thanking everyone that created the Organ Donation course, those involved in planning the evening, the UCT MOOCs production team, and the educators who made the decision to teach in the open through MOOCs. In her words, “we’ve been good at it because we have fantastic educators already doing great work and we must acknowledge these risk takers who were willing to join us not knowing what was out there”. 

To sign up for the Organ Donation: From Death to Life course or see what other MOOCs are on offer from UCT visit the MOOCs sign-up page.