This course will be offered to third- and fourth-year medical students to enhance their communication skills as it pertains to explaining complex medical conditions, treatments, and healthcare systems to non-medically trained individuals. Being able to successfully communicate complex medical information to patients is an invaluable skill for students and physicians to have. This course will help develop the ability of students to communicate with individuals who have a lower health literacy level. Students will also learn how to condense information from secondary resources into best practice guides using systematic reviews, literature reviews, and foundation papers to update wiki-articles.


1. Discuss neutrality, conflict of interest and bias avoidance in scientific writing and discussing medicine with patients and society.
2. Identify resources that provide a broad understanding of a topic and synthesize that information to educate non-medical educated individuals on a given topic.
3. Evaluate the importance of primary research and reliable secondary sources in continuing to educate a clinician’s practice over the course of their career.
4. Understand the influence that Wikipedia and other resources have in managing patient expectations and knowledge of medicine.
5. Practice utilizing information from a wide variety of sources to update Wikipedia while avoiding plagiarism and close paraphrasing.
6. Discuss the difference between editing an open-access encyclopedia like Wikipedia from writing literature or systemic review.
7. Understand health literacy and how it can impact how a physician interacts with a patient.
8. Learn best practices for communicating with patients with low health literacy.


This will be an online course. Students will be enrolled in the course for 4 weeks in total. During this course, students will be grouped into groups of 6
or fewer students. Students will be responsible for completing all of the Wiki-training modules. Each week students will meet with instructors online
to engage in classroom discussions on the topics listed below in the weekly schedule. Students will be required to choose a page to edit or create during the first week of the block, they will then have 2 weeks to edit their page before engaging in the peer-review process. During the final week, they will respond to peer review and present what they learned during the course.


Program Number: ELEC 442
Program Directors: Maureen H. Richards, PhD; Kevin Wombacher, PhD
Coordinator: Kayla Pecher
Telephone: 815-395-5647
Duration: 4 Weeks

Max Students Accepted: 12

Updated:  6/21/22