Good evening, Mr. Warnick. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to demonstrate how an entire CME activity – a webinar, if you will – can be created using only your laptop and a budget of less than $200. You are a team of one on this mission. Please show your work. This message will self-destruct in 5 seconds.

This part was pretty easy. For the purposes of my “mission”, I used the video I recorded of Lawrence Sherman’s presentation “Turning Medical Education Inside Out and Upside Down“ from the Alliance for CEHP’s 38th Annual Conference. This video was created using a Google+ Hangout and then archiving on YouTube (here’s a demo of how to do that). I technically could have created two activities, as the live streaming video could have been one activity and the archived version the second.

Two quick notes: 1) I realize that this is cheating and normally you would have to pay the speaker an honorarium, especially one of Lawrence’s caliber, and that I’m not really staying within my $200 budget, but too bad. I recorded it for free and I’m going with it; 2) This is probably completely unnecessary to say, but I’m not creating a true CME activity. No CME provider is providing Cat 1 credits; I’m not even sure the content would qualify as CME. I’m just going through the motions to show what could be possible. Let’s move on…

I used WordPress as my web platform for this activity. Why? Three reasons:

  1. It’s free
  2. It’s extremely easy to use (I do not know how to program. I do not know how to use HTML. I was able to put this together fairly easily.)
  3. Plugins for WordPress (think apps for your phone) enable you to do almost anything you want on your website. More on this in a moment.

This is where my first expense came in. I had to purchase a URL from a web hosting service. Currently on Blue Host, you can do this for $4.95 a month. That rate goes up a bit after a year and with a few other add-ons, you can count on spending around 10 bucks a month.

Here is the CME activity I created.

This was the trickiest part of the entire activity production. My first instinct was to just use SurveyMonkey, right? But no, that doesn’t work because you can’t issue individualized certificates with SurveyMonkey. Google Forms has the same issue. I quickly learned that this is an issue with many free/cheap survey programs – there’s no way to issue certificates.

The solution ended up being quite simple. WordPress has a survey plugin (one-time fee of $50), that allows you to create surveys and issue certificates. There’s a little bit of a learning curve with it, but I’d say it’s equivalent with learning how to use SurveyMonkey (let me repeat: I am not a programmer and do not know HTML. If you are at all computer savvy, you can figure out how to use this.)

Click here to go directly to the evaluation form.

A few things to note:

  1. You will have to register in order to see the eval/posttest/certificate. This is how you collect demographic data. The nice thing is that participants will only have to register once and then they can easily access any/all of the evals you put on the website.
  2. I’ve set-up this particular eval so you don’t have to answer any of the questions before moving on to the posttest.
  3. on the posttest, if you get 4 or more of the questions correct, you will get a link to your certificate. If you get less than 4 correct, you will be shown the questions you answered incorrectly and have an opportunity to retake the posttest. It’s currently set-up to allow unlimited attempts, but you can limit the amount if you desire to do so.
  4. I did not create a pretest, but that would be easy enough to do
  5. A registered participant can leave the eval/posttest and return later to complete it

And that’s it. An entire CME webinar created for less than $200. Personally, I’m most excited by the potential of using a WordPress site as an outcomes portal. To have the ability to create your own surveys and issue personalized certificates is a tool I would have loved to have had at my disposal these past few years and I’m already brainstorming potential uses for it. I would think a tool like this would be especially useful to smaller organizations that don’t have a programmer readily available and can’t afford their own LMS. If you have any interest in finding out more about this, please feel free to contact me and I’d be happy to discuss it (yeah, blatant self-promotion right there, but what are you gonna do?).

This is really just skimming the surface of what I like to call DIY CME (for the uninitiated: DIY = do-it-yourself). I truly believe that the mass influx of high-quality, low-cost, easily-accessible tools and technologies – combined with a diminishing pool of commercial support – is going to change the way we create CME. There will be less reliance on high-priced vendors and more emphasis on DIY’ing.

But that’s just my opinion.

Mission accomplished.


8 responses to “DIY CME

  1. This is extremely interesting! Thank you for this post! Does the registration, eval and post test data get exported into a spreadsheet? How do you manage the data in the back end for reporting?

    • Thanks, Emma. You can manage the data directly in WordPress or you can export it as a CSV file and work with it in Excel, Access, etc. There is also a special Reporting module that can be added-on (around $40, I think), which looks handy, but I haven’t had a chance to work with, yet.

  2. Wow, that’s fantastic! Thanks so much for the valuable insight! Which plugin(s) specifically did you use in putting together the surveys & generating the certificates? I’m browsing through WordPress plugins now, and it looks like there are quite a few of them.

    • Thanks, Ryan. I used one called WaTu Pro. Seemed to offer the most for what I needed. It’s not perfect, but better than any other options I’ve found.

  3. Just saw this post, Derek–mission accomplished, indeed! Too often convoluted, expensive, or overly complex is the accepted norm in CME when really the only thing that matters is the effectiveness of the education.

  4. Pingback: CMEpalooza Recap | Confessions of a Medical Educator

  5. I do not understand ways in which did you come to those decisions however I see exactly how and also the reason why it’s may work.

    The things you said in the article truly made me believe and improve a few of
    my patterns.

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