26 January 2023 marks three years since the WHO launched its first OpenWHO.org course on the then novel coronavirus and began to provide accessible, up-to-date and informative health knowledge to a diverse global audience amid the rapidly 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 enrollments.
To adapt to a multilingual world and best serve the affected global population, OpenWHO courses are produced in a total of 65 languages, with an average of four languages available per course. 15 country-specific learning channels have been developed together with the WHO country offices to provide access in member countries’ official languages. All learning content has been created and vetted by the 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 offers 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, consistent with the universal design for learning framework. Content is also increasingly optimized for a world in which many rely on mobile phones to stay informed.
Feedback received so far 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 working in a health-related occupation.
Additionally, survey results from learners who attended the COVID-19 vaccination training for healthcare 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 suggests that OpenWHO’s learning reach has expanded beyond the online platform, as communities adapt materials to local contexts and key learners transfer the knowledge they have gained, creating a multiplier effect.
By harnessing the potential of simple formats and technologies to empower millions of people around the world with knowledge to protect themselves and their communities, OpenWHO has helped WHO advance the goal of supporting everyone everywhere to achieve the highest level of health reach. Moving forward, this knowledge transfer platform will remain an important and effective tool in health emergency preparedness and response around the world.