In the era of the MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) what are the options for FOAMed, particularly around ultrasound? There are anatomy, psychology and ethics MOOC’s aplenty but less about clinical practice. Academic Life in Emergency Medicine have their MOOC which is obviously about EM, particularly pharmacology of EM. I have looked around and found one created by the University of Twente in the Netherlands, accessible through the British Future Learn website. It is free to register and access all the teaching material, consisting of videos and text, formative quizzes and summative MCQ exams. You can purchase a final certificate for $19, or complete the course with no certificate for no cost.
The course starts with some clinical vignettes and how US may be used in these settings, some physics (more detailed than a basic POCUS course – you need to calculate velocity changes in different media, doppler shift, think about resolution and lenses) then artifact description, probe varieties and then circling back over the clinical vignettes with more knowledge and detail. The overview of the six week blocks:
Course Breakdown
The course suggests it requires three hours per week of study, I have found a week takes about 2 hours.


Nearly all the teaching is done by Wiendelt Steenbergen who gives various overview talks in the gardens around the University and then slide type presentations.


There is an interesting use of the padlet website/app for digital pin boards for the students to contribute on which I found really efficient.

How useful are MOOC’s? There is discussion that not that many actually get finished (around 7%), that they do not allow previously disadvantaged people to access university  as the people actually taking them usually already have degree . However some UK universities will now accept some MOOC’s as credit to a more standard undergraduate degree .

So overall – an excellent quality MOOC for the new learner to US. Obviously there is no hands-on component and for such a skill where knobology, surface perception and spatial visualisation is so important, you still need to have time with a probe in hand, ideally while taking the MOOC.


Author: gppocus

Urban general practioner in Melbourne, Australia

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