Aims and objectives: To assess formative and summative milestones in a digital course and the reach to low- and middle-income countries of a Massive Open Online Course focussing on supporting nurses dealing with an emerging pandemic. Background: The severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has ravaged the globe and increased the need for timely and accurate information from reliable sources. Access to reliable and accurate information, as well as support, is important in achieving health systems strengthening. Using a Massive Open Online Course format, an educational resource aimed at large-scale interactive participation via the Internet, and participants were engaged in a course focussing on nursing in a time of crisis and involved using social learning principles. Design: Observational descriptive study. Method: Routinely collected data were collated during the period of 18 May–18 July 2020 focused on both formative and summative milestones in the course. Data were separated and classified by income in accordance with the publicly accessible 2020 World Bank Open Dataset. Results: During the 2-month period of observation (18 May–18 July 2020), 10,130 individuals from 156 countries enrolled in the course. More than 51% of participants were Active Learners. Thirty per cent completed over 90% of the course content by the end. There was widespread distribution of learners in low- and middle-income countries across Asia, Africa and Latin America. Conclusion: The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the importance of reliable and valid information sources. The use of Massive Open Online Course format can facilitate dissemination. Relevance to clinical practice: In the context of a dynamic global pandemic, leveraging digital resources to allow access to reliable information and resources is important. Incentivising participation through recognition of learning is important. Engaging in a social learning platform also has the power for reflection, promotion of resilience and capacity for health systems strengthening.