CMEpalooza Recap

It’s now one week post-palooza – seems like a good time for a recap. Let’s get right to it…

So, what was the point?
The point of CMEpalooza was three-fold:

  1. Provide a forum for individuals to present on any topic related to CE/CME. More specifically, I was particularly interested in folks who were uncomfortable presenting in traditional formats or who had something they wanted to share but had been unable to do so at the Alliance conference and elsewhere. I think CMEpalooza was successful in meeting this goal, judging from the variety of presenters and topics we had. I know for certain that several of the speakers did presentations for which they had abstracts turned down by the Alliance. I don’t know if any of the presenters chose to talk at CMEpalooza because they don’t like speaking at “normal” live meetings/conferences, but at least there were people presenting whom I’d never heard speak before.
  2. Show that doing an event of this scale was possible with freely available tools. In other words, if I was going to talk-the-talk, I wanted to walk-the-walk. I’ve done a number of blog posts and presentations on DIY CME and I’ve done some small scale projects, but I really wanted to show that the same tools I used for my smaller projects could be used just as easily for larger scale projects. Mission accomplished. We had a two day, 21 session event that over 200 people visited each day (more details below) and I spent absolutely no money on. Zero dollars. That includes software, hardware, marketing, AV, etc. All the tools I used were free for me and they’re free for you.
  3. Demonstrate that content is still king. From my perspective, the beauty of CMEpalooza was not that Google+ Hangouts is this incredibly unique learning format that keeps participants engaged purely through its own inherent awesomeness. Really, it’s just streaming video with slides and talking heads. Nothing so special about that. No, the beauty of CMEpalooza was the diversity of topics and excellent speakers — there was something for everyone. Participants visited CMEpalooza for the content, not the format. The tools are what enabled me to put it on, but if we had had lousy presenters or topics no one was interested in, no one would have watched regardless of how it was presented.

Was it a success?
Well, I had pretty low standards going in to it — as I stated many times, my goal for CMEpalooza was a consistent standard of “good enough” — so based on that, I’d say yes. We had a few technical glitches and delays, but nothing that stopped any sessions from happening and we never got too far off-schedule. All of the presenters and participants I heard from seemed to be happy and/or impressed with how it went (side note: I heard from a couple of folks afterwards who told me  they had their doubts about whether I could pull off an event of this scale with the tools I was using). I was happy with how it went. But, let’s look at the actual data.

Live sessions: most sessions averaged between 30 and 40 viewers, with a high of 50 and low of 10. The exact number of viewers per session is difficult to determine since I heard from multiple individuals who said they were watching sessions in a group setting, so the actual number of viewers is likely a bit higher than the number of views.

Archived sessions: The CMEpalooza archive was posted a week ago and since then, each session video has been viewed at least 33 times. Most of the March 20 videos (which were posted 3 days earlier than the March 21 videos) have at least 70 views with a high of over 100.

Website: On the first day of CMEpalooza, March 20, the CMEpalooza website had 243 unique visitors and 1932 views. On the second day of CMEpalooza, March 21, the website had 204 unique visitors and 2055 views. Since then, the website has averaged about 140 views per day.

Considering that when I first decided to do CMEpalooza, I didn’t know if anyone would watch, I can’t help but think that these numbers show that it was a rousing success.

If you had to do it over again, what lessons were learned for the next go-’round? (Question courtesy of Jacob Coverstone)
In all honesty, there’s not a lot that I would change. A few things that come to mind:

  • If I do it solo again, I’d design the schedule differently to give a little more time in between sessions. I’d like to have a little more time in the “green room” with the presenters before going live, to work out any last second glitches and not feel quite so rushed.
  • A second moderator would be ideal. As one session is going on, the other moderator could get the next one set-up and be ready to go as soon as the current session was over. They would also be able to help with questions. I was literally running slides with my left hand and responding to email, texts, etc with my right.
  • I wasn’t totally satisfied with the options for Q&A. The Google+ app worked exceedingly well, but too few people watching had a G+ account to use it. I’m not sure if the lack of questions was due to people not being able to ask them or just not having any.
  • It’s not a high priority, but having a nice set of headphones/microphones for all presenters would have been helpful. It’s something to consider if I do this again.

Are you going to do it again?
Many people have asked me this and…I don’t know. People seemed to enjoy and appreciate it, so I think I’d like to. I was in a unique position that allowed me to have the time to dedicate to a project like this (i.e. one that i made no money from) and I don’t know if that will be the case in the future. So for now I’m going to leave it that I’d like to, but we’ll see…

Overall, I was really pleased with how CMEpalooza went. If anyone has any questions or feedback, please feel free to comment below or shoot me an email. Thank you.

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4 responses to “CMEpalooza Recap

  1. Amazing work. I was in love with google+ before and am more in love now. I am so proud of what you did! I have asked several surgeons and my staff to sign up for this well before palooza.

  2. The interactive learning component is tremendous. But I wonder if you have any thoughts on the Google terms of service that allows them access and use of the Hangout content in any way, shape or form or for them to allow access to other companies? With regard to actual CME use – wouldn’t there be concerns with the freely “public” aspect of it and the lack of control as to how that content could be used commercially? Even if not accredited CME, I’d think there could be issues with ownership of the content and images from either the presenter or conference/society/publication side. Just thinking in type here… Curious as to your thoughts or anyone else’s….

  3. I would love to understand the technical aspect of how this worked in google plus. I found a wealth of knowledge in both of the two day sessions, and I too would like to utilize the “free”. That would be an interesting session for CME Palooza II.(hint hint) Technology; here is how you use_____ Google chat, Google hangout, social media for meeting discussions, Here is how to do a CME blog. etc I seem to spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to do these things and /I know if I could just find someone who already knew…

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