Online Course Brings History to Life for Medical Students

It’s important to find resources that bring the topics covered in a course to life for students. Something that can break the boundaries of learning for a student, making the topics and ideas jump off the page and into their minds. To help supplement learning and make courses more than words on a page, the Office of Distance Education and eLearning (ODEE) uses video tools to capture real world experiences for years to come.

One of these courses that was brought to life with multimedia resources is Bioethics After the Holocaust, taught by Dr. Ashley Fernandes and Courtney Thiele, as part of the Master of Arts in Bioethics program in the College of Medicine. Originally an in-person class, this elective course focuses on the policies, decisions, and mindsets that facilitated the atrocities of the Holocaust, and the ethical implications of this event on the medical field. The class asks critical questions that encourage the students to think about themselves and their ethical imperatives as a medical professional, like “What is a person?” and “What does a medical professional do when their code of ethics isn’t ethical?”.

“We hope from this course that students will see the unique part physicians play in the real world,” Dr. Fernandes, Associate Professor in the College of Medicine, said. “From looking at the past, I hope the students will stand up for humane medicine practices in the future.”

A key part of Bioethics After the Holocaust is the class field trip to Germantown, Ohio to visit the Veterans Museum. During this trip, students hear firsthand stories from concentration camp liberators. The stories are an opportunity for students to see what they are learning in the classroom come to life in a unique way. But, in taking this course online, Fernandes and Thiele were concerned this experience would be lost on their distance learners.

“We knew these stories were a great opportunity for students to learn about what happened directly from the veterans who lived through it.” Courtney Thiele, Instructor in the College of Medicine, said. “But, we didn’t know how to translate this to an online format without the course losing this unique quality.”

To bring these stories online, Thiele and Fernandes worked with Jessica Phillips, senior instructional designer at ODEE. The instructors wanted to ensure the Germantown experience was still possible for their online learners. Phillips, along with the Media Services team in ODEE, traveled to the Veterans Museum to capture the liberators stories for all future students taking this course.

“Once I learned about this trip and the stories of these veterans, there was no doubt in my mind that this is something we had to take online,” Phillips said. “I knew we could make it work and that it would become an important part of the student experience.”

With ODEE’s help, this online course is just as engaging and transformative as the on-the-ground version, and the stories have been preserved for future learners. Phillips worked with Fernandes and Thiele to get to know the course and personalize it to fit their needs. Additionally, they were able to preserve a piece of history through two one-hour videos, which would be embedded into the online course modules.

“Being able to capture these stories and tell them online is a huge plus and will positively impact our students,” Thiele said. “I’m so grateful these veterans were willing to share with us and our students, and ODEE was able to help in capturing an important part of the past.”

Are you ready to take your course and its unique resources online? Reach out to the ODEE instructional design team to learn how

Museum Director David Shortt introduces the World War II speakers.Screenshot from the course videos of Germantown Veteran's Museum Director David Shortt introducing the World War II veteran speakers.