A MOOC spreads the word on global health quality

For Ashish Jha, teaching a massive open online course (MOOC) through the digital platform HarvardX was an opportunity to try a new model for learning. Rather than attempt to replicate the classroom experience, Jha, K.T. Li Professor of International Health at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, sought to create a global community of professionals engaged around issues of health care quality.

He asked students to fill out surveys about quality issues in their own countries and write essays at the end of the course, the best of which will be published in a special section in the journal BMJ Quality & Safety.

The course was viewed in more than 170 countries, including Rwanda, where health workers gathered in study groups at nearly half of the nation’s hospitals.

The “public good” value of such a course is clear, Jha told Harvard Magazine in an article published in the July–August, 2015 issue. Many healthcare workers and decision makers around the world care about quality, but lack the resources for training programs, he said. “Well, we’ve got one. It’s from Harvard. It’s free.”