Medical student at Rowan University develops first known MOOC on osteopathic medicine

Realizing there is a gap in the public's understanding of osteopathic medicine, Timothy Tsai, a fourth-year medical student at Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine, has led a collaborative effort to create a free massive open online course (MOOC) that is the first known course of its kind to focus on osteopathic medicine. Launched in mid-May, the free course has already attracted more than 1,200 students eager to learn more about osteopathic medicine's holistic approach to health promotion and disease prevention.

"Before enrolling in medical school, I had experience with MOOCs and wanted to create something similar about osteopathic medicine," Tsai explained. "The course we designed provides an overview of osteopathic medicine. Even if you are not interested in that as your career, the course can be a great resource for learning exactly what an osteopathic physician does and how osteopathic manipulative treatment can help patients."

Bowing to the demands of medical education, however, Tsai's original idea to create the course remained "stagnant" for about a year and a half. Then, support from the medical school's Department of Family Medicine and NeuroMusculoskeletal Institute breathed new life into the project. Those departments and students from the medical school's SYNAPSE organization, in collaboration with Rowan's Department of Information Resources and Technology, worked with Tsai to create the course.

"Developing the first known MOOC on osteopathic medicine is a major achievement for Tim and everyone who worked together on this project," said Dr. Joshua Coren, chairman of Family Medicine at the School of Osteopathic Medicine. "This program will help future students learn about our field, help patients to understand what we can do for them and let many others see the great student, staff and faculty involvement of our school and university."

Dr. Thomas Cavalieri, dean of the Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine noted the significance of the team's accomplishments. "It isn't just about being the first to create a course like this," he said. "The team's commitment to producing a program that is both comprehensive and, at the same time accessible to anyone, is a significant achievement that will help to advance the reputation of our school and of the osteopathic profession."

The course includes four modules - Introduction to Osteopathic Medicine; History of Osteopathic Medicine; Osteopathic Manipulative Treatments; and Clinical Applications of Osteopathic Manipulative Therapy. The medical school's Academic Technologies group provided video support, recording the course lectures, all of which were presented by faculty at Rowan's School of Osteopathic Medicine.

Once all the elements of the course were assembled, one final hurdle remained: making the course available online. With assistance from Rowan University's Division of Global Learning & Partnerships, the team from the School of Osteopathic Medicine was finally able to see their work come to fruition when, two months ago, the course was posted on the Canvas Network, one of the world's leading providers of open, online courses.

A free, self-paced course, "Introduction to Osteopathic Medicine" is designed to allow students to complete all four modules in four weeks, assuming they are able to devote approximately four hours each week. To learn more, or to register, visit the course website.


Rowan University


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