Background: There is an increasing use of online continuing medical education (OCME), but the potential use of social and collaborative learning to change professional performance and improve patient care has yet to be fully realised. Methods: The integration of the main themes from the presentations and comments from participants at a symposium at AMEE 2011. Results: Sociological perspectives on change in professional performance highlight the need for social and collaborative learning in OCME so that learners can share information (explicit knowledge) and opinion (tacit knowledge). The educational topic should be relevant to the complexity of professional practice and use iterative cycles of implementation and critical reflection in social networks so that proposed solutions can be tested in actual practice. The challenge of developing effective online discussions for collaborative learning is recognised. Conclusion: The provision of OCME requires a shift in both policy and practice to emphasise the importance of social and collaborative learning. Further research is recommended, especially to evaluate the implementation and impact of social and collaborative learning for OCME on patient care and the use of newer Web 2.0 approaches.
- online learning