WUR is developing two new MOOCs (massive open online courses): ‘Nutrition and Cancer’ and ‘Nutrition, Heart Disease and Diabetes’. They are aimed at healthcare professionals, but they are also interesting for nutritionists, policy makers, food technologists and biologists, says Professor in Nutrition and Disease Ellen Kampman.
MOOCs are online courses that are available for everyone to follow free of cost. They often consist of a series of short videos, source material and test questions, and are based on the latest scientific insights. Students can freely choose when to follow the online lectures and make the assignments. WUR now offers twenty-four MOOCs, which are followed by thousands of students around the globe. The new online courses on Nutrition and Disease are being developed by coordinator Liesbeth Posthuma and a team of lecturers, educational developers and multimedia specialists.
‘Participants in the MOOC Nutrition and Cancer learn about the disease and about the role of proper nutrition in prevention or for patients’, Kampman says. Professionals from different groups take the stage in the online lectures. ‘Speakers include a scientist, a dietitian, a communications expert and an oncologist. The course explains at a basic level how nutrition and cancer are linked.’ The MOOC Nutrition, Heart Disease and Diabetes is led by Professor in Nutrition and Cardiovascular Disease Marianne Geleijnse.
From master’s course to MOOC
Both MOOCs are based on existing master’s courses. ‘We base the MOOCs on introductory lectures of the existing courses’, says Kampman. ‘The campus courses are master's courses for a reason, so we have replaced the components that go too deep by material that is important for healthcare professionals.’
The MOOCs could contribute to the regular campus education, says marketing coordinator for online education Suzanne de Bruijn. ‘It changes your view on education. A MOOC offers space to experiment. And the online courses often contain powerful knowledge clips, or useful assignments that people can make independently without too much trouble.’
Nutrition and medicine
The Nutrition and Health programme, in which Kampman’s chair group is involved, is trying to make education about nutrition a part of the medicine programmes. ‘That way, doctors could provide better lifestyle advice, for example’, Kampman explains. ‘Radboudumc already uses two of WUR’s MOOCs on Nutrition and Health (Micronutrients and Malnutrition and Macronutrients and Overnutrition).’
Nutrition and Cancer and Nutrition, Heart Disease and Diabetes will start on 2 and 30 October, respectively. Most of WUR’s other MOOCs will be available again as of 4 September; they are currently being evaluated. The full offer of WUR’s MOOCs is available here.