Academic journal article Nursing and Health Care Perspectives

Technology in the Nursing Classroom

Academic journal article Nursing and Health Care Perspectives

Technology in the Nursing Classroom

Article excerpt

TODAY, anyone can learn anything, at any place, at any time. With the rapid advances in technology and greater use of the World Wide Web, nurse educators are reevaluating teaching methods and adapting information systems to promote critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Students must accept the responsibility for their own active learning process (1).

Are universities keeping pace with the public demand for a well-prepared, well-educated workforce responsive to today's health care needs? Schools of nursing have been criticized for not recognizing the importance of technology in nursing and health care. In 1997, the National Advisory Council on Nurse Education and Practice recommended that federal resources be made available to increase education in core informatics skills and knowledge, students' involvement with collaborative telecommunications projects, and nursing faculties' knowledge and preparation in informatics (2).

To prepare graduates to meet society's needs, the focus in education must change to one that is student centered, where graduates learn to think critically, solve problems, communicate among diverse populations, make ethical judgments and understand legal issues, and collaborate with colleagues in interdisciplinary teams (1,3,4). Students must be prepared for lifelong learning and the use of technology in the health care arena (5).

IN THE IDEAL LEARNING ENVIRONMENT, technology facilitates learning but does not replace the classroom. In such an environment, students and faculty must work together to learn and test new knowledge and, as partners, evaluate the effectiveness of scholarly work. This is a departure from the traditional model in which an "all knowing" faculty imparts knowledge to passive students primarily through lectures (5).

With changing demographics and the increase in the number of college students over age 30 -- and with limited resources for education -- higher education must change or become obsolete. Employers, state legislators, accrediting organizations, and funding sources are all interested in outcomes. Are graduates prepared to meet the job market requirements and contribute to the profession of nursing? Do they have the tools to work with diverse groups in employment settings?

The mission of Ball State University and the school of nursing is to facilitate use of technology in the curriculum to prepare graduates for the changing workforce. While more than half of the nation's nursing education programs have no informatics education (2), this school has made technology in nursing education a priority since 1992. The integration of technology in the classroom has advanced rapidly at all levels. From the integration of a few Internet assignments along with classroom instruction to the creation of two Internet programs, the initial technological goals of the school have been realized.

The Overall Plan In collaboration with the University Computing Service (UCS) and TELEcommunication comPLEX (Teleplex) departments, the school of nursing designed a template that is used in courses in the associate, baccalaureate, RN to baccalaureate completion, and master's programs. Each faculty member is given a toolkit for Web development that includes products such as Netscape Navigator, news groups, chatrooms, and e-mail. UCS has also designed and marketed an institutional software package that includes Course Wizard[C] Web Designer[C] Web File Manager[C] and InQsit[C], programs designed by school personnel (6).

The Web Designer permits faculty to customize their course Web page, which is managed with the Web File Manager. InQsit is an instrument that may be used for examinations, surveying, and private dialogues between students and faculty, that is, a clinical conference.

The course template consists of nine horizontal icons that organize the course through the use of different tools. The icons are:

* Syllabus

* Course Topics, including a course calendar divided into four sections: week, topics, assignments, and due. …

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