This course will become read-only in the near future. Tell us at if that is a problem.

Syllabus for Online Health Information: Beyond WebMD

Note: the syllabus is currently a work in progress and everything is subject to change.

Communication Tools:
  • Titanpad (
  • Nabble (
  • voxli (
  • Others? 
Week 1: Health Literacy & Me
This week we'll introduce ourselves, take a quick and painless quiz (no grades, I promise!) to see what you know, and learn about the concept of health literacy.
  • [Link to quiz goes here]
  • What is health literacy? [link to free and open reading]
Week 2: Evaluating Online Resources
What are some of the criteria we can use to tell if a particular site is good or bad?  What are the grey areas?  And what's the deal with WebMD, anyway? 
  • [reading 1]
  • [reading 2]
  • [Assignment: choose from list and evaluate site]
Week 3: The Cheat Sheet
This week we'll create a list of resources that are good places to start for health information searches.  And we'll discuss what makes them good, and some of their limitations.  No need for Google; you'll remember these web addresses!
  • [reading 1]
  • [reading 2]
  • [Assignment: share 1 of these resources with a friend, family member, or coworker; tell us about his/her reaction and/or if they'd heard about it]
Week 4: Search Strategies
What if you're looking for additional information or your particular area of interest isn't covered in the sites we talked about last week?  There are tips and tricks to searching for health information, too! And these tricks extend beyond searching in Google.
  • [reading 1]
  • [reading 2]
  • [Assignment: search everything at your disposal to find a research article, a support group, and a clinical trial for your topic.  If you don't find any of these, share your search strategy and explain why you think you did the best you could]
Week 5: Finding Health Information That's Meant for You
We're all unique, and we all sometimes need health information that's directed specifically for our needs.  This week we'll explore resources in different languages, for different ethnic groups, for women or for men, and resources specifically for different age groups.
  • [reading 1]
  • [reading 2]
  • [Assignment: find a resource that could be helpful for a group in your community (fictional is fine!) and draft an e-mail to that group's organization explaining why your choosen resource might be something worth sharing with their members if they haven't already.]
  Week 6: Health Gone Social!
Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn...chances are you've heard of these places, and maybe a few others.  But did you know there's a wealth of current health information available on them?  Although these sites aren't part of the "open" web, they've become part of our day-to-day lives and can provide valuable information.  But just as with websites, you should be aware of what you're looking at...
  •  [reading 1]
  • [reading 2]
  • [Final project: create a handout/brochure/webpage/whatever with resources for a specific health topic (if you can't think of one, I can pick for you; asthma, breast cancer, etc.).  include tips on evaluating information, searching
Week 7: This is the End!  Or is it just the beginning?

Share your final project!  We'll create an archive of your work, should you choose, to share with the P2PU community and beyond, in the spirit of the open model.  We'll also retake the initial quiz to see if we've learned anything.  :)  The readings for this week are "extra credit" and cover topics that may be of interest to the consumer health information seeker (we may discuss these in the final meeting, if there's interest):
  • [reading 1: personal health records]
  • [reading 2: the e-patient concept]

Task Discussion