"Effectiveness of Online Portal Tool for Continuing Professional Development"

Regulatory area: Continuing Competence

Specific Issue: Evaluation Report: on the potential effectiveness and impact of a new online portal tool, which was designed to support veterinarians throughout the Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Cycle--from Self-Assessment/Need Identification, to Planning Multiple Interventions, to Engaging/Learning, to Reflection on Learning, to Change in Practice Behaviour.

Evaluation Process:
1. Over the course of 10 months, a series of webinars was held to introduce the why, what, and how of a new CPD Portal designed for members' voluntary use. After each webinar, a deadline was given for submission of the completed documentation for one of the three formal phases of the Cycle (Assesss&Plan; Engage&Reflect; Document&File with College, before starting cycle over again).

2. A mini-survey was emailed to participants after each submission deadline, asking for feedback on the components of the tool used so far (for sharing with the developers) and on their experience using the tool, including perceived benefits of or impact on his or her personal approach to CPD.

3. Feedback on the submissions was provided to the group as aggregate data at the start of the next webinar, and the developer's technological refinements to the tool based on comments received from participants were announced.

4. Individual feedback was provided to each participant after the final submission was made, as was the link to an online survey about the tool, the pilot program, and the impact of the Portal on his/her own CPD approach and outcomes.

5. Data compiled from each of the above steps was analysed.

What was the outcome?:  There were 2 major outcomes of this interactive evaluation process, which combined instruction, direct solicitation of feedback from participants, provision of aggregate feedback to participants, and an anonymous survey of participant opinions about the tool:

1. Participants provided the College with critical information about the user's perspective on:
a) the tool itself (technology, user friendliness, improvements over paper tools, etc)

b) the manner of instruction provided to users

c) the effectiveness of the portal re: supporting members
throughout their activities throughout the CPD Cycle

d) the impact of the portal on their CPD Cycle experience.
A comprehensive report was delivered to the QA Committee, which recommended to Council that the Portal be made available to the entire membership.

2. A learning module was developed based on the webinar content and on feedback about the pilot experience as provided by the participants. The online learning module is on the College website at:

What are the key learnings?: 
1. Licensed professionals are more likely to adopt a new tool to meet their CPD requirements if they perceive from the start that there are significant benefits to using the tool ("it will help me allocate CE resources for my employees based on demonstrated need"; "I will be less passive and will look for meaningful learning opportunities"; "I will develop a resource library that I can refer to instead of filing away conference proceedings." Finding out what those benefits are from a pilot group can be very helpful in order to encourage uptake from the membership at large.

2. Piloting how to instruct members about a new tool at the same time as piloting the new tool itself can provide important insights into what users need in order to learn effectively; a learning module for all members that can be produced as a result will better support the uptake of the tool when it is launched.

Key Contact:
Karen Smythe, College of Veterinarians of Ontario
Senior Partner, Standards and Policy
2106 Gordon Street
Guelph, Ontario, Canada
N1L 1G6

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