Instructional Design as a Change Agent in a School of Nursing

By Godsall, Lyndon; Foronda, Cynthia | Distance Learning, May 1, 2012 | Go to article overview
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Instructional Design as a Change Agent in a School of Nursing

Godsall, Lyndon, Foronda, Cynthia, Distance Learning


The Institute of Medicine (IOM) report, The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health, provides direction for academic administrators to require faculty to perform with cutting-edge competence in teaching (IOM, 2010). Within the directive, administrators are advised to regularly evaluate nursing programs for adaptability, flexibility, and accessibility (IOM, 2010). Hence, faculty must strive to engage learners and incorporate technology to provide student-centered, accessible programs. In response to societal demands and trends, traditional and proprietary universities have been transitioning nursing programs and certificates to online formats. Collectively, there is a wide range of offerings that include blended/hybrid models to fully online programs where students never step foot on a campus. Of course, there are proponents and critics of both models, but the reality is that education has changed and the future place of technology in teaching and learning appears imminent. Nurse educators must embrace technology-infused education to thrive in academia and amply prepare students to succeed in the profession.

Moving traditional programs to online formats is a laborious process more complex than simply shifting content. The entire delivery process must be carefully contemplated to ensure a participative and multifaceted learning experience for the student. Pedagogy in nursing has been shifting away from traditional approaches and is now inclusive of gaming, use of video, social media, and virtual simulation to name a few examples. Although nursing faculty are experts in their specialty areas, many struggle with the skillset required to independently implement these new methods and migrate their courses to the fullest potential. The knowledge, skills and experience of an instructional designer is pivotal to the process. Subsequently, more schools of nursing have added instructional designers to their departments.


As Locatis (2007) stated, the penchant for science and health care, including nursing, is not to stifle the advances of technology but to embrace it. Some of the most innovative educational technology applications have been in health care. Amazingly, some of the earliest uses of technology in education were developed in the 1960s with the development of databases and educational simulations (Locatis, 2007). Some of the earliest applications of educational and clinical interaction were through interactive television and telemedicine. Historically, the health professions have been leaders to adopt innovative technologies and pedagogies.


According to Kanuka (2005), in the simplest sense, instructional design is the process of translating general principles of learning and instruction into plans for instructional materials and learning activities. According to Reiser (2012),

the field of instructional design and technology (also known as instructional technology) encompasses analysis of learning and performance problems, and the design, development, implementation, evaluation and management of instructional and noninstructional processes and resources intended to improve learning and performance in a variety of settings, particularly educational institutions and the workplace, (p. 5)

Instructional design has become a necessity in both industrial and educational settings, supporting the creation of training and educational excellence in a variety of modalities. Gustafson and Branch (2007) stated instructional design is a systematic process that is employed to develop education and training programs in a consistent and reliable fashion. The origins of instructional design are difficult to pinpoint; however, the instructional design process traces back to the 1960s with use in higher education (Barson, 1967).

Most of the early instructional design models were based on behaviorism, broadly described as a way to measure the study of human behavior (Burton, Moore, & Magliaro, 1996).

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