Coventry University claimed a first today with the launch of what it describes as a “global virtual classroom created to teach health professionals.”

The new e-learning facility will offer healthcare professionals the chance to obtain a postgraduate certificate in cancer care for teenagers and young adults which has been accredited by the Paediatric Oncology Nurse Education (PONE) group of the Royal College of Nursing.

It is the first online qualification the university has offered since launching its CUOnline initiative last November.

Juliet Hinrichsen, an instructional designer at the university, told E-Health Insider: “The process of building this e-learning qualification took us about a year. In order to make this certificate as educational as possible, we have worked with some top experts in the field from around the world. The aim of us building this opportunity for students was to get them learning as much as possible from as many different sources, not just slabs of texts and journal entries.

“We didn’t want CUOnline to just be a distance learning provider. We wanted it to be a fully-online course delivered as it would be in a university setting, but in a virtual learning environment instead. It was important to us that we provided inter-professional learning, so we included different innovative tools to ensure it was as academic as possible.”

In designing the course, Hinrichsen travelled around the country gathering input from health professionals.

“As part of the need for continuing professional development and reflective learning, we sought as much input from medical experts as possible to ensure the course was up to industry standards. We have included everything from voice tools and web conferencing to providing video and audio tutorials.”

The course will begin teaching on 19 February and includes voice tools, web conferencing, an online chat forum, blogs, podcasts and video and audio recordings. It is open to health professionals anywhere in the world and includes materials which can be accessed in any country from the dedicated website.

Experts who have provided input for the course have come from Australia, New Zealand and Canada, as well as the UK.

The qualification was funded by the Teenager Cancer Trust (TCT), who spent a £50,000 donation on developing the certificate programme.

TCT’s professor of teenage and young adult cancer medicine, Tim Eden, said: “At present, there is no specialist training available for nurses and other health professionals in the care of teenagers and young adults with cancer. We strongly welcome this exciting new project and hope that the course will contribute to raising standards of care worldwide and to ensuring consistency of care provision for young people with cancer.”

The Royal College of Nursing PONE group believe the course will reach out to students on a global scale.

Former chair of the group, Helen Langton, said: “This is not distance learning. The course has been designed to use interactive, online resources to create a virtual classroom where students can chat, exchange ideas, listen and respond to presentations given by their fellow students or by experts in the field. It has been designed so that the material can be accessed at any time during the period that each module runs from anywhere in the world.”

Hinrichsen hopes the new course will bring about changes to perceptions of distance learning.

“With these tools students studying at distance will feel more engaged with each other, and it brings the course to life.

“In addition, using this technology may help students to engage better with their patients because they are entering a ‘cyberculture’ of things such as podcasts and blogs that young people are using all the time, and it may open new avenues for developing different kinds of support mechanisms for patients.”

The course is open to anyone with a suitable background and experience, and can be applied for through Coventry University admissions at 024 7688 7667.  


Coventry University


Royal College of Nursing 

E-learning demonstration