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Sickle cell in the university curriculum: a survey assessing demand for open-access educational materials in a constructed community of interest

Successive UK governments have sought to support expanded teaching of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects within university curricula. There is an increased expectation that the education of health professionals will enhance their knowledge of genetics. Sickle-cell disease is both a genetic condition and a major publichealth issue globally that is neglected in university curricula. An Internet survey involving 226 respondents from sickle-cell communities of interest (science educators, health professionals and voluntary groups for sickle cell) found greater awareness of educational resources on popular Internet sites than on formally constituted academic repositories for open education resources. Sickle cell was widely seen  as an important topic for open education resources. These began in the USA in the 1990s but have only more recently received attention in the UK. A project developing such sickle-cell resources within a repository of open education resources has been proposed to and funded by the UK’s Higher Education Academy (HEA) and Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC). From 2011, ‘SickleCellOpen: Online Topics and Education Resources (SCOOTER)’ will develop sickle-cell open education resources, which can be found on its website (

Author(s): Simon M Dyson, Vivien Rolfe, Mark Fowler

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