Content Design: An Overview

Learner-Centered Design

Learner-centered design is intended to do just that - place the student at the center of the learning experience, as opposed to the instructor or presenter. Where possible, this includes engaging learners so that they interact with the content, one another, and the presenter. The key to doing that is to focus on the intended outcomes of the activity and separating content into what's critical (what you would like to impart an enduring understanding of), what's important to know and do, and what's worth being familiar with. When employed effectively, this provides opportunities for learners to reflect on and demonstrate their learning, encourage dialogue, and generate questions that can be the basis for additional educational activities.


  • Physicians learn from their own experience
  • Physicians learn through their interactions with other Physicians
  • Helping physicians become comfortable with the role of learner is very important
  • An important approach to enhancing physician learning is to develop communities of interaction
  • When physicians can engage in practice research that provides real, tangible results that directly impact their experience, it fosters the growth of learning communities

(Adapted from How People Learn, Bransford, Brown & Cocking Chapter 8)

There's always a little resistance to change, the physician community is no exception. And as very busy (and often over-extended) professionals, "it ain't broke so don't fix it" is a reasonable response to proposed new methods. However, we at CME would humbly argue that CME has been demonstrated to be effective in multiple environment [Davis & Galbraith, 2009; Cervero & Gaines, 2015], and that format does have an impact on effectiveness [Marinopoulos et al.].

It's fair to say that the evidence is mixed; but we can also say that about evidence to support all other education activities from elementary school to the professional level (pre-school studies show much more robust results, so it appears a lot of things get in the way along the typical learning path).