Learning through Osmosis: A Collaborative Platform for Medical Education


  • M. Ryan Haynes Co-founder and CTO, Osmosis – Knowledge Diffusion
  • Shiv M. Gaglani Medical Student, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine; Co-founder and CEO, Osmosis – Knowledge Diffusion
  • Mark V. Wilcox Medical Student, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
  • Terence Mitchell Assistant Professor of Anatomy, Campbell University School of Osteopathic Medicine
  • Valerie DeLeon Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Florida; Adjunct Professor, Center of Functional Anatomy and Evolution, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
  • Harry Goldberg Assistant Dean and Director of the Office of Academic Computing, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine


content spacing, crowdsourcing, curricular design, education technology, medical education, mobile, retention, Osmosis


Formative assessment has been shown to improve medical student performance and retention, but many learners lack access to formative assessments because faculty members have limited time to create such resources, and acquiring existing commercial review banks is expensive. In response, we developed a collaborative learning platform for medical student self-assessment called Osmosis (http://osmosis.org/). Osmosis is a web- and mobile-learning platform that provides free access to thousands of crowd-sourced, high-yield practice questions and explanations. The quality of these questions and resources is enhanced through a unique social rating and commenting feature.

During the first year Osmosis was launched at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in January 2012, approximately 250 students in the first and second year classes spent over 2,400 hours answering more than 5,000 questions close to half-a-million times (~2,000 questions answered/student). In addition, over 1,000 Creative Commons-licensed images and YouTube videos have been shared. Usage data and reception by students indicate that the platform fits well into busy schedules and that participants value its role in promoting collaboration and self-assessing knowledge gaps.

We are currently developing additional features for the Osmosis platform related to knowledge retention and curricular design. Since the vast majority of questions and resources on Osmosis are shared under non-restrictive licenses, such as Creative Commons, we are making Osmosis available to peer institutions. It is our hope that more students and faculty members will benefit from, and contribute to, the Osmosis library.


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How to Cite

Haynes, M. R., Gaglani, S. M., Wilcox, M. V., Mitchell, T., DeLeon, V., & Goldberg, H. (2014). Learning through Osmosis: A Collaborative Platform for Medical Education. Innovations in Global Health Professions Education. Retrieved from https://journal.innohealthed.com/index.php/ighpe/article/view/27




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