Massive open online course for health informatics education.
OBJECTIVES: This paper outlines a new method of teaching health informatics to large numbers of students from around the world through a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC). METHODS: The Health Informatics Forum is a social networking site for educating health informatics students and professionals [corrected]. It is running a MOOC for students from around the world that uses creative commons licenced content funded by the US government and developed by five US universities. The content is delivered through narrated lectures with slides that can be viewed online with discussion threads on the forum for class interactions. Students can maintain a professional profile, upload photos and files, write their own blog posts and post discussion threads on the forum. RESULTS: The Health Informatics Forum MOOC has been accessed by 11,316 unique users from 127 countries from August 2, 2012 to January 24, 2014. Most users accessed the MOOC via a desktop computer, followed by tablets and mobile devices and 55% of users were female. Over 400,000 unique users have now accessed the wider Health Informatics Forum since it was established in 2008. CONCLUSIONS: Advances in health informatics and educational technology have both created a demand for online learning material in health informatics and a solution for providing it. By using a MOOC delivered through a social networking platform it is hoped that high quality health informatics education will be able to be delivered to a large global audience of future health informaticians without cost.