No matter how well designed your activity is, though, adult education theory also tells us that a one-time event is seldom enough to make learning stick. Think about how you can continue engaging your learners after the fact. For example:

• Ask them to make a commitment to change.
Literature suggests that the simple task of writing something you will do after participating in a learning event increases the probability you will actually do it. Geissel presented a summary of 12 Planned Change Assessments® conducted by Healthcare Performance Consulting among participants in online CME activities from 2011 to 2012. The assessment measures the changes physicians intended to make immediately after participation, and actual changes in practice 4–6 weeks later. On average, 70 percent who said they’d make a change did.

• Provide online discussion boards.
Establishing communities of practice via discussion boards can enhance an education event. Literature suggests participation rates in discussion boards are highest when the communities are first established in a face-to-face meeting, and when experienced facilitators continuously engage learners in the discussions (Gaun, JCEPH 2008: Social Interaction and Participation: Formative Evaluation of Online CME Modules). One tip to getting more engagement online: Have your faculty commit to participating on the boards at certain times after the educational event.

• Followup surveys:
Tests are teaching tools, said Geissel and Jackson. In addition to supporting outcomes evaluations, followup surveys can reinforce the key takeaways from the event and facilitate retention.