Free healthcare learning platform nominated for national award

11 Mar 2016 17:10:30.940

A project which has developed digital learning tools to help educate healthcare students, professionals and the public has been nominated for a Guardian University Award.

HELM (Health e-Learning and Media) Open is an internationally-recognised collection of over 200 free-to-use and media rich digital learning tools called ‘Reusable Learning Objects’ which have been used by over 1.5 million people worldwide.

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The HELM Open platform, which was developed in the School of Health Sciences by the Health e-Learning and Media Team at The University of Nottingham, has been used to enable people to learn about conditions such as autism, mental health, dementia, biology and many other healthcare topics.

Developed by communities for communities
Speaking about HELM Open, Professor Heather Wharrad from the University’s Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, said: “HELM Open has been developed by communities, for communities and anyone in the world can access them completely openly and freely via the web. It is about unlocking the knowledge and skills within the academy for the wider community.”

The feedback on the Reusable Learning Objects in HELM Open has been tremendously positive, with an analysis of over 13,000 responses indicating satisfaction levels of between 96% and 100%.

This project was also recognised in the recent national Universities Research Excellence Framework where this case study, submitted as part of the School of Health Sciences submission received an ‘outstanding’ rating for impact.

It is not just students and professionals who find the Reusable Learning Objects on HELM Open beneficial, one parent of an autistic child, commenting on ‘Hello – My Name Is Tom’ said: “As a parent, you can easily get lost in the heat of the moment and feel that you are the only one going through this. I would like to see a link to this site for teaching staff at all our schools.”

Sharing knowledge
The  HELM team is currently running a  Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) to share the knowledge behind the development of HELM Open with other healthcare and e-learning professionals around the world, so others can share their expertise by developing their own Reusable Learning Objects.

There are over 6000 people enrolled on the MOOC called ‘Designing e-Learning for Health’ producing reusable learning objects on important global topics such as ‘newborn blood spot sampling’, ‘preventing mosquito breeding around homes’ and ‘Leadership for health personnel in Cameroon’.

Professor Wharrad added: “Being nominated for this award is recognition for all the hard work that the team has put into the development of HELM Open, and the impact that they have made through it.

Rich repository of health resources
"We should also recognise the input from the individuals and communities who have been willing to share their expertise and stories to create this rich repository of health resources. HELM Open is really helping to enhance knowledge and confidence among students, practitioners and service users.”

The HELM Open project was funded by the School of Health Sciences and the production of individual Reusable Learning Objects funded by charities, NHS Trusts, and health grant funders.

In addition to The University of Nottingham's Guardian nomination in the Digital Innovation category, for HELM, it is also nominated in the Business Partnerships category for its work in engaging academics in the Arts with small businesses through an innovative workshop and seminar programme.

The Guardian University Awards take place on 16th March at the Royal Institute of British Architects in London.


More information is available from Nick King, Marketing Projects Manager, University of Nottingham, +44 (0)115 82 32184, or email

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Notes to editors: The University of Nottingham has 43,000 students and is ‘the nearest Britain has to a truly global university, with campuses in China and Malaysia modelled on a headquarters that is among the most attractive in Britain’ (Times Good University Guide 2014). It is also the most popular university in the UK among graduate employers, one of the world’s greenest universities, and winner of the Times Higher Education Award for ‘Outstanding Contribution to Sustainable Development’. It is ranked in the World’s Top 75 universities by the QS World University Rankings.

Impact: The Nottingham Campaign, its biggest ever fundraising campaign, will deliver the University’s vision to change lives, tackle global issues and shape the future.

Story credits

For more details about HELM Open, please email Professor Heather Wharrad, or tel: +44 (0)115 82 30909
  Nick King  

Nick King - Marketing and Communications Manager, Energy Research Accelerator (ERA)

Email: Phone: +44 (0)115 74 86727 Location: Coates Building, Faculty of Engineering, University Park Nottingham

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