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New online health education initiative could benefit learners worldwide

We live in an era in which digital technology is reaching people in the most remote areas of the globe. Given that capability, Stanford is launching a new venture that will offer online education in health to a wide range of learners, from medical professionals to community health workers in the developing world.

The new Center for Health Education will be led by Charles Prober, MD, who as senior associate dean of the medical school pioneered a number of innovative programs in digital education. He will work with colleagues in the Office of the Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning (VPTL), who have experience and expertise in the world of online teaching.

Lloyd Minor, MD, dean of the School of Medicine, noted that under Prober’s leadership, the medical school has developed an international reputation for building innovative curricula.

“The new Center for Health Education will capitalize on this progress through a strong partnership with VPTL, helping extend advances in understanding achieved by our world-class faculty to learners far beyond our campus boundaries,” Minor said.

Prober views the program as opportunity to have a greater impact on human health, using the expertise available at Stanford. For example, a topic like nutrition education can be tailored to reach different audiences, whether it’s medical students, health professionals in continuing education or residents of a rural village in India or South Africa.

“Anything we create of inherent value for health care should be repurposed for health care for all, including developing countries,” he told me.

The center will expand on existing programs and build partnerships with other organizations, including universities, government agencies and U.S. and foreign nonprofits.  Among other things, it plans to grow Stanford’s year-old Digital Medical Education International collaborative, which works to improve health education by making high-quality content available in developing countries.

While the center initially will draw content from the medical school, it will ultimately include other Stanford faculty whose work relates to health and wellness, including experts in climate change, economics, psychology and international law, Prober said.

Previously: Working to bring online medical education to South Africa, A Stanford expert in the science of learning turns his attention to medical education and Using the "flipped classroom" model to bring medical education into the 21st century
Photo by Norbert von der Groeben

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