Wikipremed: curriculum innovation through open licensing

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A case study presented by Creative Commons outlines the ways that open licensing of the WikiPremed course has led to positive outcomes for curriculum development.

When John Wetzel offered his WikiPremed course freely to students preparing for the MCAT, he was not primarily addressing the high cost of MCAT preparatory services. He offered his highly integrated approach to reviewing science classes as a way to overcome what he saw as the compartmentalization of science education. The fact that it was free was a bonus.

Aside from the fact that it’s free and openly licensed, what makes WikiPremed different from other premed curriculum? According to John, premed students are constantly getting ready for the “test of the week,” meaning that the takeaways from each unit aren’t very well contextualized. He first noted this gap while tutoring med school students. “Even the straight-A students didn’t get the connections between the biological sciences and chemistry and physics.”  Wetzel set out to create a new approach that not only prepared students for the MCAT, but also connected the dots in their science education.

John sees open licensing as an invitation for others to get involved and suggest improvements. The CC licenses let other experts poke around and suggest improvements that have made it a stronger product and curriculum. “Just making it open makes the world your editor,” said Wetzel. “People see that you are trying to help students and they value that, and it makes them happy to help you.” Because WikiPremed is CC-licensed, it also allows use of other CC-licensed work. “The biggest benefit in this regard is the availability of the biology images from Wikimedia Commons,” he says.

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