Many CME programs are failing to achieve sustained learning. These programs often use more traditional—and outdated—educational methods.
The answer is not simple, but common problems include:
- Not effectively engaging the learner in the learning process
- Not understanding the learner’s needs at the outset
- Not presenting engaging content
- Not identifying issues with learning material retention
- Not designing CME with the learner in mind
In this post, we discuss six factors that weaken CME effectiveness.
1. There's a Failure to Understand Learners
Many CME programs continue to emphasize traditional teaching methods, ones based on didactic instruction or lectures. These are not effective ways to engage learners, having numerous drawbacks. For example:
- Lectures are taxing for learners. Research has shown that lectures should last no longer than fifteen minutes. In the book, Tools for Teaching, author Barbara Gross Davis states that attention during lectures tends to wane after approximately ten to fifteen minutes.
- Lectures are not engaging, often being long and monotonous. Learners can quickly become bored and tune out.
- Lectures are instructor oriented. Learners are unable to ask questions, discuss ideas, or share valuable personal experiences during lectures. As a result, instructors cannot tell if learning has taken place.
- Lectures do not accommodate individual needs. It is a delivery format that fails to account for disabilities or other learning needs.
2. One Size Does Not Fit All
One factor that weakens CME effectiveness is the “one size fits all” method of instruction. This flawed technique assumes that all learners absorb information in the same way. Your CME curriculum should adapt to suit the individual needs of each learner.
Today’s learners also have limited time for ongoing professional development. As a result, many are choosing to receive their CME through self-study and/or self-directed learning using programs delivered through the internet in the form of videos, audio, and web-based enduring materials. Dynamic formats address varied learning styles for learners who do better with those formats than traditional learning methods, such as lectures.
3. Learning Isn’t Retained
Among the factors that weaken CME effectiveness is learning retention. Research shows that within one hour, learners will forget about 50% of the information presented. After twenty-four hours, they will have forgotten around 70% of the new information. Then, after one week, retention is reduced to an average of 90% forgotten. Additional research has found that information is not retained from CME events for any significant amount of time.
Reinforcement of new learning is an essential ingredient for program success. Your CME program should offer flexible means of learning that include interactive content, such as videos, audio, and internet-based enduring materials. Doing so improves your learners’ different learning styles and content retention because they can study at their own rate and in their own time.
4. There’s a Lack of Interesting Content
If you are seeing many learners failing to complete their CME courses, this may mean your content is not engaging. Are you using only text-based content? Is the traditional lecture the primary form of instruction? If so, you must seriously consider new ways to present your content. Work to provide forms of interactive CME course content to keep learners engaged and returning for more courses.
5. It Was Designed without the Learner in Mind
Your curriculum design is more than writing learning objectives; it includes the design of the educational experience itself. Measures of your learners’ experience should include the course’s convenience, enjoyment, entertainment, and engagement. In many instances, a factor that can weaken CME effectiveness is failing to design your CME courses without your learners in mind. For example, if learners cannot clearly navigate a course, they are losing out right from the start. They need to receive content in an easy manner so they can concentrate on the learning at hand. This is not the only factor.
Effective CME programs must be designed in a way that is highly engaging and interactive, and they must feature inclusiveness and diversity. Your CME course design should present your content with the needs of all your learners in mind and provide a high-quality learner experience. Your courses’ design elements must enhance learner engagement, promote their interactions, and ensure learner enjoyment.
6. New LMS Technology Isn’t Being Used
Older LMS systems can prove to be unwieldy for learners. Having a full-featured healthcare LMS that offers easy integration of the necessary tools that meet learners’ needs is critical. Learners have diverse educational requirements, so an LMS becomes a vital component of any successful CME program.
A web-based LMS platform such as EthosCE can provide your CME organization with ways to address your learners’ specific learning styles through the use of interactive formats, such as videos, audio, and enduring materials. EthosCE provides:
- Third-party video integration from websites such as YouTube
- Self-hosted video in assessments and activities
- Audio directives and podcasts
- Live streaming from offline events such as seminars, annual meetings, and others.
- Access to interactive webinars
- Access to easily produced enduring materials
- Downloadable materials within activities
- Instant feedback before, during, and after learner assessments so you can evaluate learning outcomes
If you are using an older or generic LMS, you may have to purchase or develop these features as you attempt to improve your learners’ educational outcomes. You will see increased costs, and you may also lose learners who are frustrated with that particular LMS's shortcomings.
EthosCE Can Help Your Increase Your CME’s Effectiveness
In many instances, there are issues surrounding a CME program, including failing to understand learners’ needs, using outdated “one size fits all” learning methods, lacking interesting content, and having poor course design and learner retention. Add to these deficiencies an older or generic LMS, and learners who are the ones who suffer. An LMS such as EthosCE can help you strengthen your CME’s effectiveness to provide your learners with the best learning experience possible.
At EthosCE, we understand the challenges of staying up to date and compliant with ACCME changes. We know how critical it is to get things done right the first time when it comes to team-based education and success.
To learn how EthosCE can enhance the continuing education of your healthcare teams, schedule a free 1-on-1 demo with one of our specialists today!