CareSearch Blog: Palliative Perspectives

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A Massive Open Online Course on death and dying

A guest blog post from Deb Rawlings, Research Fellow (CareSearch) at Flinders University, South Australia

  • 1 March 2016
  • Author: CareSearch
  • Number of views: 10867
A Massive Open Online Course on death and dying

I am excited to be part of a project team at CareSearch that are developing a ‘massive open online course’ (MOOC) on death and dying. MOOCs are freely-available short online courses that anyone can participate in. Traditionally they have been used in universities to deliver education out of the classroom, but there has been a surge in their popularity in that they can be used to not only create social networks and engage participants, but impart important messages, provide resources, and facilitate research opportunities. The aim of our MOOC is to build community awareness of palliative care and death as a normal process, and our approach to the MOOC will be in a socio-cultural context (rather than a palliative care context); so for example, the social rather than biological death as seen in dementia. The MOOC will provide a never-before-seen opportunity to watch a community-driven approach to death and dying.

We already know that some of the issues around death and dying are starting to be discussed in public forums, including the advent of death cafes and other gatherings that have started to open the dialogue. This MOOC will potentially facilitate the development of online social networks, a means by which many people are already communicating and interacting. A MOOC can also extend the reach to those who may be unable to attend face-to-face events.

This community-driven MOOC will be based on viewing the participants as contributors, not recipients of education. It will see peer-to-peer social activism, the building of social capital, and exploration of concepts that have impacted on the public. For participants there is an opportunity to engage and discuss death, to do something meaningful to them, and to generate new knowledge. For the project team there is the opportunity to identify influences on people’s perceptions, hear the ‘voice that doesn’t sound’, and to develop new understanding of systems, communities and issues. For CareSearch there is the opportunity to look at ways to talk and write on the website, and explore whether this allows us to create a genuine dialogue.

The MOOC will be delivered over a four week period from the end of June 2016 and will include modules with concepts such as media representations of death and dying, digital dying, socio/biological dying, and how society should engage with death and dying. We would like to encourage people of all ages and from all walks of life to get involved with the MOOC and share their thoughts and views. We are also interested in hearing of any relevant resources or information that would be of interest to the public that we can share - please feel free to leave your ideas and comments below.

For more information about strengthening community action and creating supportive (social) environments, visit our Nurses Hub page on Public Health Palliative Care.


  Deb Rawlings is a Research Fellow (CareSearch) at Flinders University, South Australia.

Editor's note:
The MOOC will be released at the end of June 2016. Register your interest today!


42 comments on article "A Massive Open Online Course on death and dying"

Pauline Marshall

7/03/2016 2:53 PM

This sounds like a wonderful opportunity - please notify me as soon as the MOOC is available.



Natasha Tsoupas

3/04/2016 8:48 AM

Hi Pauline,

Thank you for your comment. We will advise when the MOOC is available.



20/08/2016 6:22 PM

Hi is this course for anyone to do or just people in the medical profession? Enquiring for a friend.

Julie semmens

8/03/2016 1:11 AM

I think the mooc is a great idea .the community needs to think about death and dying.

I also think that when a person is dying we need to be encouraged to have mindfulness and to live in the moment .i watched a father with his new baby that had to be resuscitated and whose future was uncertain and I hoped that the concern for his outcome did not stop him cherishing the time he had with his baby

Carly-Jay Metcalfe

29/03/2016 3:42 PM

Great work, Deb. Looking forward to being part of this MOOC :)

Deb Rawlings

7/04/2016 11:16 AM

Thanks Carly-Jay

nicolette smith

29/03/2016 3:44 PM

Sounds fabulous. Please let me know when MOOC is happening

Natasha Tsoupas

3/04/2016 8:49 AM

Will do Nicolette. Thank you


30/03/2016 10:04 AM

Sounds great , can I access from the UK ?

Natasha Tsoupas

3/04/2016 8:50 AM

Great question Linda. I will send this to the authors.


30/03/2016 10:27 AM

Am interested to be part of the MOOC. Please add me to the list.

Natasha Tsoupas

3/04/2016 8:51 AM

Thanks Abby will add you to the list.


31/03/2016 7:11 AM

Sounds wonderful

Natasha Tsoupas

3/04/2016 9:00 AM

Thanks Kate


31/03/2016 1:02 PM

Wonderful. Know nothing about MOOCs. Will learn. Please include me when you start up in June. Would love to let others know too.

Natasha Tsoupas

3/04/2016 8:56 AM

Hi Sue,

We will let you know and that would be great if you could share.



1/04/2016 12:37 AM

Also keen to access from the Uk if possible?

Natasha Tsoupas

3/04/2016 8:52 AM

Hi Claire,

Great question will send it to the authors.


christine goodall

1/04/2016 8:31 AM

Sounds as if it just what we need to encourage more open discussion and sharing would be interested in partaking if its available

Natasha Tsoupas

3/04/2016 8:57 AM

Thanks Christine i will add you to the list and advise when available


1/04/2016 8:53 AM

Sounds fascinating, please add me to the list...

Natasha Tsoupas

1/04/2016 7:12 PM

Thank You Vanessa will do

Joy Wharton

2/04/2016 4:53 PM

Great idea!

Have you considered promoting this via Dying Matters? (UK)

Deb Rawlings

7/04/2016 11:19 AM

Thanks Joy,

We will be discussing promotion shortly. I'll add it to the list although we are Australian and so are likely to advertise via local initiatives.


4/04/2016 3:56 PM

Great opportunity, please add me to the list....

Natasha Tsoupas

19/05/2016 1:05 PM

Hi Polette, registrations are now open. Please visit

birgitta kastenbaum

2/05/2016 2:52 PM

Please add me to the list, looking forward to being a part of the community. I am in the US

Natasha Tsoupas

19/05/2016 1:04 PM

Hi Birgitta, registrations are now open. Please visit


4/05/2016 4:49 PM

Excellent work Ms. Deb.

Can we share it internationally ??



13/05/2016 2:54 PM

Great initiative, please include me in your contacts for when the course is available. Thankyou!

Natasha Tsoupas

19/05/2016 1:03 PM

Hi Fiona, registrations are now open. Please visit

Carolyn Mackellar

16/05/2016 4:53 AM

would love to be apart of the MOOC if possible

please add me to the list

Natasha Tsoupas

19/05/2016 1:03 PM

Hi Carolyn, registrations are now open. Please visit

Elaine Rawiller

18/05/2016 8:29 PM

Please add me to the list to receive notification when this is released. Thank you. Elaine

Natasha Tsoupas

19/05/2016 1:01 PM

Hi Elaine, registrations are now open. Please visit

Annette Tesoriero

5/06/2016 5:07 AM

This looks great. I would like facilitate a local group in our community who can be engaged with the MOOC and who can come together face to face for discussion. However I have no idea if that would work as far as the online components are structured,

Debbie Williams

6/06/2016 3:28 PM

I'd love to join in

Annette Tesoriero

7/06/2016 11:12 AM

We are in Nowra NSW ... is that close to you? If so... lets start the Shoalhaven conversation

Alice Yu

15/06/2016 2:50 PM

Please add me to the list, I'm interested in the topic.


16/06/2016 1:23 PM

I look forward to being involved in this project and having lost my Father to Cancer in 1989 and only weeks ago my Mother became Palliative and passed away I feel passionate about this area.

I also nursed in Palliative care in the mid 80s and look forward to hearing about how Palliative has evolved since then.

Denise saunders

3/07/2016 5:16 PM

Great to hear about your course as a nurse I'm very interested in your recent updates and compassion of support towards palliative care death and dying Pauline we are part of the journey Denise saunders

Henery peter

16/03/2018 9:59 PM

Hello Admin,

It is very nice that your blog is providing information regarding the program. I want to aware you towards the “Free Online Course on Research Methods: An Engineering Approach”. There are many free courses opportunities available, but you must take the time to explore the options.

Application Deadline varied according to the program.

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