Online Continuing Education for Health Professionals: Does Sticky Design Promote Practice‑relevance?


  • Roxanne Ward Zaghab
  • Carlos Maldonado
  • Dongsook Whitehead
  • Felicia Bartlett
  • Magaly Rodriguez de Bittner


Keywords: Health Care Practitioner, continuing education, situated online learning, learner engagement, continuous improvement, and practitioner-learner


Abstract: Online continuing education (CE) holds promise as an effective method for rapid dissemination of emerging evidence‑based practices in health care. Yet, the field of CE continues to develop and delivery is predominately face‑to‑face programs. Practice‑oriented online educational methods and e‑learning platforms are not fully utilized. Educational theorists suggest an experiential approach to CE consistent with adult learning theory. A compelling question remains: Can online asynchronous CE programming prepare health care providers in delivering higher‑level practice competencies?. To address this question, the authors have identified seven composite ⠜sticky⠀ factors that have been critical to the engagement of learners and the creation and delivery of practice‑oriented online educational programs (Zaghab et al, 2015). The sticky factors are based in knowledge management (Nonaka, 1994; Szulanski, 2002) and adult education or andragogy (Knowles, 1970; 1984). In this paper, sticky factors are mapped to Moore and colleagues⠒ (2009) higher level learning outcomes in health care CE. Data are presented on learner reported practice‑related outcomes in a selection of online CE courses on the CIPS Knowledge Enterprise⌢ portal with the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy⠒s Center for Innovative Pharmacy Solutions (CIPS). A dynamic, adaptive e‑learning environment built by technology partner, Connect for Education, Inc., provides the innovative platform and the Acclaim! interactive learning technology. This technology‑instructional partnership is dedicated to an iterative continuous improvement process called the Learner Stewardship Cycle (Zaghab et al, 2015). The cycle improves stickiness and learner engagement in order to achieve higher‑level learning outcomes in CE. Findings suggest that of the 769 learners successfully completing an online course with two or more sticky design segments, the majority report reaching level 4, 5 and 6 learning competencies. Learners from the professions of pharmacy, nursing, medicine, and other health



1 Dec 2015