Pediatric Injury Prevention Online Course Aims to Address Important Training Gaps


The COVID-19 pandemic has forced the hand of many. Schools, universities, businesses – almost every organization that offers any form of in-person education has started offering or improving their programming online.

But even years before the pandemic, online learning was growing in popularity. In 2018, more than 100 million learners signed up for massive open online courses (MOOCs), formats that allow large groups to access free or discounted educational materials at their own pace.

However, none of these major course providers offered open-ended pediatric injury prevention courses. This presented a significant problem for what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention previously recognized as one of the most underestimated public health issues in the country, noted Andrew Hashikawa, MD, associate professor of pediatric emergency medicine at the CS Mott Children’s Hospital at the University of Michigan Health and responsible for online medical education at UM Injury Prevention Center.

“Not only is pediatric injury prevention under-represented in online education, traditional online courses are often only delivered in a linear fashion,” Hashikawa said. “Teachers who might be looking to learn more about peer violence and bullying should take the whole course to find the part they need. We were particularly well placed to challenge this model.

Hashikawa led a team from the UM Injury Prevention Center, which receives funding from CDC, to create a MOOC titled “Prevention of Injury in Children and Adolescents. “The project was a massive undertaking, with contributions from over a dozen UM departments and institutes.

Building the Pediatric Injury Prevention Course

The free course offers eight modules taught by 29 experts and covers dozens of injury topics suitable for different learner profiles, such as healthcare professionals, public health practitioners, social workers and teachers. The courses are offered in several formats, including interviews with national experts, animated videos and hands-on safety demonstration videos.

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Depending on individual interests, learners can move forward through topics in a non-linear fashion. All registrants follow an introductory module, which is considered the “trunk” of the course tree. Then they can follow any branch path – a “choose your own adventure” learner model.

“It works a lot like Netflix: you choose what you want to learn, and then you’ll have other suggested topics that you might be interested in,” Hashikawa said. “Let’s say you’re a coach and you took a concussion course. You might then be interested in watching this same group of teens with safe driving and sharing the road. It’s about tailoring your education, and that’s what I’m most proud of in this effort.

The Hashikawa team used the same content from the MOOC to create a two-week private elective course for UM medical students and pediatric residents taking the entire course.

Gain popularity

Use of course platform data edX, researchers at Michigan Medicine found more than 4,800 people from 148 countries enrolled in the course since 2018. Two-thirds of the learners were women and the majority were between 26 and 40 years old.

The results, published in Online medical education, reveal 91% of the 824 participants surveyed found the presentations relevant to their work. Almost three-quarters felt the course had “very well” or “extremely well” in addressing the implementation of evidence-based injury prevention practices.

About Stuart M. McFarland

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