Stephen Carson

Principal Consultant, Digital Education Concepts LLC

OPENPediatrics is marquee story in new book on social learning

Boston Children’s Hospital project OPENPediatrics is the lead story in The New Social Learning

Cover of book The New Social LearningWhen looking for examples of innovation in education, medical education may not be the field that comes to mind first. Yet, in updating their book The New Social Learning, authors Tony Bingham and Marcia Conner lead with an innovative program from Boston Children’s Hospital that provides free and open-access education to pediatric clinicians worldwide: OPENPediatrics.

OPENPediatrics exemplifies key aspects of social learning as described by Bingham and Conner: Connectivity, collaboration, dialogue, and diverse perspectives.  The program is the brainchild of Dr. Jeffrey Burns, Chief of Critical Care at Boston Children’s Hospital, who drew inspiration from open education, social media, and massive multiplayer online games to create a platform that connects clinicians worldwide.

In just over a year, the OPENPediatrics community has grown from 1,500 beta participants to more than 5,500 physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists in 125 countries and more than 800 hospitals.  These community members engage in truly global conversations around key aspects of critical care, form groups and exchange resources, and access a library of peer-reviewed videos developed at Boston Children’s Hospital and other leading centers of pediatric care.  The site also includes structured guided learning pathways that provide structured training with pre- and post-testing and certificates of completion.

Bingham and Conner describe the impact of OPENPediatrics in their introductory chapter:

“…OPENPediatrics makes it possible for doctors to rapidly share information every time there is a new type of medical emergency afflicting a child. Solving this problem across the miles has long been difficult because it hasn’t been possible to “load the boat,” a phrase used at teaching hospitals to remind medical students they weren’t alone. If you had a problem, if you needed help, if you needed to learn something new, there were always people in your immediate area you could call on at any time. OPENPediatrics now makes it possible to load the boat across vast distances.”

In just one example of the global connection OPENPediatrics fosters, in 2013 Dr. Kathryn Maitland of Imperial College London presented a video about the results of her FEAST Trial, which found that providing fluid boluses to children with sepsis in sub-Saharan Africa actually increased mortality, counter to conventional thinking.  The video generated 85 comments by clinicians from 15 countries across the globe, including Chile, Lebanon, Nigeria, Thailand, and the United Arab Emirates.

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