26 January 2023 marks three years since WHO launched its first OpenWHO.org course on the then-novel coronavirus and started providing accessible, up-to-date and informative health knowledge for a diverse global audience amid the fast-evolving pandemic. As of this date, OpenWHO offers a total of 190 online courses, 46 of which address COVID-19 topics, and has totaled 7.4 million course enrolments.
To adapt to a multilingual world and best serve the affected global population, OpenWHO courses have been produced in a total of 65 languages, with an average of four languages available per course. 15 country-specific learning channels have been developed with WHO Country Offices to provide access in Member States’ official languages. All learning content has been created and vetted by WHO science and expert teams to ensure its scientific accuracy.
To have the widest possible impact and reach learners from remote communities to high-tech metropolises, including in health emergency contexts, OpenWHO has leveraged existing technologies and is offering simple, adaptable and accessible learning content. OpenWHO courses are provided in self-paced, multi-use formats so learners have the option to participate whenever and however works best for them, in line with the universal design for learning framework. Materials are also increasingly optimized for a world in which many rely on mobile phones to stay informed.
Feedback received to date shows positive and encouraging trends. An analysis of two surveys for the platform’s second most popular course – Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) in the context of COVID-19 – confirmed high user satisfaction, with learning needs overwhelmingly met. More than 95% of participants said they would change at least some IPC practices after the course, a majority of whom were women aged 20 to 39 years working in a health-related profession.
In addition, survey results from learners who followed the COVID-19 vaccination training for health workers confirmed the effectiveness of self-paced, multi-use formats from the user perspective, as well as the value of modular and low-bandwidth friendly materials to reduce barriers to access.
Finally, recent feedback indicates that OpenWHO’s learning reach has extended beyond the online platform as communities adapt materials to local contexts and key learners impart the knowledge they gained, creating a multiplier effect.
By harnessing the potential of simple formats and technologies to empower millions of people across the globe with knowledge to protect themselves and their communities, OpenWHO has helped WHO further the goal of supporting everyone, everywhere in attaining the highest level of health. Moving forward, this knowledge-transfer platform will remain an important and effective tool in the preparedness for and response to health emergencies across the globe.