Project Lead(s): Kate Tairyan
Many developing countries lack qualified health practitioners, with one of the barriers being a lack of affordable, quality medical education.
While there are thousands of useful, freely accessible e-learning objects in health sciences, no one has collected and transformed these resources into a university available to the whole world.
Implemented online, the project team launched the world’s first free, for-credit university-level training portal, NextGenU.org.
NextGenU provides anyone, anywhere, access to university- and graduate-level courses in the health sciences, either for interest or for credit.
All NextGenU courses are offered in partnership with organizations, including universities and professional societies, certified to give courses for credit.
NextGenU’s initial offerings focus on health sciences and include emergency medicine, environmental health, and climate change and health.
NextGenU also offers students extensive human interaction (work products, structured peer interactions and one-on-one mentored activities), interactive computerized learning (interactive quizzes and word games), and both computerized and human assessments.
While there are no admission requirements, in order to receive credit, a trainee must be registered at a recognized academic institution or have obtained the relevant prior degree (e.g., a Bachelor’s degree to get credit for Masters courses, or an MD to get credit for residency training).
Results showed feasibility and acceptability of this online training approach to enhance the skills of health professions students in developing countries.
Since launching the first course in April 2012, five pilot tests in four countries have shown that students using NextGenU training perform as well as or better than students enrolled in traditional courses in the same educational circumstance, and have greater student satisfaction
NextGenU now has more than 3,000 registered students in 134 countries.
Students take NextGenU courses for credit from accredited co-sponsors, while remaining in and serving their local communities, interacting with local and global mentors and peers for skill-building.
In two of their pilot sites (the University of Missouri and Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences, in Maryland, USA), the team was able to show that NextGenU students and traditionally-trained control students performed almost identically on a national Emergency Medicine test for senior medical students, and were pleased with the training’s convenience.
The team has received bridge funding from Grand Challenges Canada to further refine the model and to establish partnerships with collaborators in Africa, Asia, and North and South America.