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U Michigan Launches Residential MOOC on Healthcare Policy

The University of Michigan (U-M) has launched its first residential MOOC with more than 800 undergraduate, graduate and professional students signing up in its first week.

Dubbed "Understanding and Improving United States Healthcare: Special U-M Student Edition," the free course is open only to U-M students, sponsored by the U-M Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation and taught by Matthew Davis, professor of pediatrics and communicable diseases and of internal medicine at the U-M Medical School, professor of public policy at the Ford School of Public Policy, and professor of health management and policy at the School of Public Health.

"With colleagues at U-M, I've conducted research about the confidence of medical students in various aspects of their education, and across the U.S. they are less confident about health policy than just about any subject they study," Davis said, in a prepared statement. "There are not a lot of faculty in medical schools across the country teaching about health policy."

Davis previously taught a MOOC on the same topic open to an international audience and taken by 3,800 students, about 850 of whom completed the course. Students taking the U-M course, however, will have more incentive to complete the course, as it has been added to the curriculum of the medical and dental schools.

"U-M is making strategic investments in support of a wide range of curricular innovations," said James DeVaney, assistant vice provost for digital education and innovation, in a prepared statement. "A big area of emphasis is increasing student access to interdisciplinary learning experiences. U.S. health care policy is a groundbreaking initiative in the brief but eventful history of MOOCs and a terrific illustration of U-M's unique approach to digital innovation."

In the fifth week of the course, students will meet in small groups to discuss the course.

"This innovative MOOC is a departure from traditional teaching methods," said Michael Rubyan, a health management doctoral student who helped teach the international MOOC and helped create the U-M MOOC. "We produced it as a TV show, every week a new episode. We created one-on-one interviews with faculty that are like what you might see on '60-Minutes,' a series of mini-documentaries on the history of reform, and in week six, we have a panel discussion that mirrors 'Meet the Press.' It's designed to be engaging and entertaining."

"Participants also will have an opportunity to design a health insurance program, using a special simulation experience developed by Susan Goold, professor of internal medicine at the Medical School and of health management and policy at the School of Public Health," according to a news release. "Her CHAT (Choosing Healthplans All Together®) program helps users create health plans that take into consideration the realities of scarce health care resources."

More information is available at

About the Author

Joshua Bolkan is contributing editor for Campus Technology, THE Journal and STEAM Universe. He can be reached at [email protected].

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