Background. An increasing number of continuing dental education, or CDE, courses are available on the Internet. The authors conducted this study to determine general characteristics of online CDE course offerings. Methods. The authors found online CDE courses through Internet search engines and dental indexes. They recorded each course's Web page address, title, topic, length, credit hours and cost. Then they classified course providers, categorized topics, compared course length with credit hours and calculated cost per credit hour. Results. The authors located 157 online CDE courses offered by 32 providers. The courses covered a wide range of topics, and most were five screens long or shorter. Credit hours per screen ranged from 0.05 to two, and cost per credit hour ranged from no charge to $25. Conclusions. Online CDE courses are hard to locate, making this material accessible only to people who are well-versed in retrieving information on the Internet. The brevity of most courses may make them appropriate for incremental study at the dental practitioner's convenience. Guidelines to correlate credit hours with course length should be developed. Practice Implications. Online CDE courses may become an important tool to help practitioners keep current. Several issues, however, need to be addressed before online CDE can reach its full potential.
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