In Conversation: Dr. Benjamin Greenberg and the New Online Learning Course

By Lyd Lacey

Recently, with the help of Dr. Benjamin Greenberg of UT Southwestern, SRNA released a monumental new resource for all involved with rare neuroimmune disorders — the first-ever micro-learning course in the field of rare neuroimmune disorders. Full of animations and adorable cats, the course’s engaging style aims to make the inherently complex nature of these disorders more comprehensible for everyone, from patients to parents. To understand more about the behind-the-scenes of creating this micro-learning course, I asked Dr. Greenberg some questions. 

 Lyd: What motivated you to collaborate on this micro-learning course? 

Dr. Greenberg: While we tried to provide many clinical benefits to our patients at our center, one of our significant contributions is through education. Knowledge is power, and understanding your condition provides invaluable insight into the approach to care. The micro-learning course will hopefully give patients and families around the world access to information that will empower them to chart an effective treatment plan. 

L: How do you think this course will impact the understanding of rare neuroimmune disorders? 

BG: We hope it will provide a strong foundation of information for patients and families to understand their diagnoses and pursue care. 

L: What are some key takeaways you hope learners will gain from the course? 

BG: The course integrates information about how the immune system interacts with the nervous system, which can lead to the variety of conditions that our patients experience. I think it is important for participants to understand the unique aspects of each condition and the commonalities. 

L: Do you have ideas for future courses? 

BG: I think future courses could integrate more case-based examples, built upon the experience of our patients as a way to bridge the gap between the theory and real-world.

I took the course a while ago after being inspired to better understand my peers as a Teen Support Group Leader. It is crucial to understand the experiences of others from multiple perspectives. Although I know acute flaccid myelitis well, having been diagnosed with it almost ten years ago, I wanted to learn more about other disorders and gain a deeper understanding of others. 

I was initially nervous about the course since I don’t have a medical background, and I sometimes struggle to understand the jargon. However, a key feature of the course was that it was designed for people of all knowledge levels so that it is comprehensible for everyone. This is perhaps the most important element to the success of the course — by not relying on learners to have previous knowledge, it is accessible to all and thus educational for all. As people with a rare neuroimmune disorder, it is our right to be able to understand the science behind our care, and this learning series has done just that. 

After completing the course, I have gained a deeper understanding of the symptoms and outcomes of specific disorders and a better understanding of the mechanisms causing them. In fact, my knowledge of the underlying mechanisms has helped me to better conceptualize the how and why of symptoms. Similarly to Dr. Greenberg, I hope to see more courses in the future, especially ones such as this that break down complex medical topics into easily understandable lessons. Until then, be sure to make the most out of the inaugural micro-learning course!