Online CME: from Medical Teacher

medteach.jpg  These two articles were published in the November 2006 issue of Medical Teacher:

Lockyer J, Sargeant J, Curran V, Fleet L. The transition from face-to-face to online CME facilitation. Med Teach 2006; 28(7):625-630.

This study examines the experiences of nine medical teachers who transitioned from face-to-face teaching to facilitating a course in an online environment. The authors examined the reasons why the teachers agreed to facilitate an online course, the challenges they encountered and their practical solutions, and the advantages and disadvantages they perceived to this teaching environment. Thirty-minute phone interviews were conducted. An iterative process was used to develop the themes and sub-themes for coding. Teachers reported being attracted to the novelty of the new instructional format and saw online learning as an opportunity to reach different learners. They described two facets to the transition associated with the technical and facilitation aspects of online facilitation. They had to adapt their usual teaching materials and determine how they could make the ‘classroom’ user friendly. They had to determine ways to encourage interaction and facilitate learning. Lack of participation was frustrating for most. This study has implications for those intending to develop online courses. Teacher selection is important as teachers must invest time in course development and teaching and encourage participation. Teacher support is critical for course design, site navigation and mentoring to ensure teachers facilitate online discussion.

Practice points

•Online interactive continuing medical education is a new format for physician-teachers.
•Facilitators are drawn to online CME by the novelty of teaching with this new medium and the opportunity to reach new learners.
•Facilitators faced two challenges in their transition from face-to-face teaching: the technical aspects associated with the medium and the skills of facilitating in a different environment.
•Organizations beginning to develop interactive online learning programs need to pay attention to the selection of teachers who are prepared to invest the time and energy into learning and thinking about the technology and their facilitation skills.

•Facilitators recognize and appreciate instructional design support for course construction, navigation tips and facilitation guidance.


Sandars J. Twelve tips for effective online discussion in continuing medical education. Med Teach 2006; 28(7):591-593.

Abstract: Online discussions for continuing medical education are increasing but many are ineffective. Close attention needs to be paid to the requirements of the learner and the wider healthcare organizational context within which continuing medical education takes place. There is a preference for structured and facilitated online discussions by this group of doctors. The essential skills for effective online facilitation are outlined.
See also Twelve Tips: Medical Teacher series

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