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The future of online nursing education

The future of online nursing education

COVID-19 has forced educational institutions to strive to implement comprehensive and quality online learning programs, and the education of nurses is no different. Three experts weigh.

Dr. Mary Lou Sole

Dean and endowed with the Chair of the College of Nursing, University of Central Florida

Josh Hamilton-Rasmussen University

Dr. Josh Hamilton

Dean and Director of the Rasmussen University Alumni Program


Matt Cooper

Founder of Skillshare

What does the future of online nursing education look like for you?

Mary Lou Sole: Online education will continue to grow as more students look for flexible options for higher education. The pandemic has shown us how important it is to have high quality online offers. New technologies are integrating with more traditional online education to engage students and immerse them in the content area. We will also see more adaptive and flexible learning options that allow the student to complete coursework based on a personal schedule.

Josh Hamilton: Students will be searched online affordable, flexible online options that meet their needs how professionals work. We will see that more schools will do what Rasmussen has always done when it comes to our postgraduate and postgraduate diplomas: focusing on learning and mastery of experienced tools, rather than noting the flow of time in the classroom or e-learning environment. We don’t expect students to spend time on classes and assignments that are irrelevant to the work they do today – and the work they want to do after school! Nursing education needs to become more authentic and modern so we can keep up.

Is technology good enough to give nursing students the hands-on experience they need when getting a degree online?

JH: Online learning was originally focused on didactic content. Some learning skills can be integrated into online courses with relevant technology and software. For example, online health assessment courses combine simulated technology to improve the study of assessment skills. In particular, such technology brings to the classroom more subtle “soft” skills of interacting with people to gain a much more holistic assessment and establish a trusting relationship between the client and the nurse. There are several creative and effective means of assessing students ’skills. Students can learn skills to practice and send performance videos for assessment. Simulated programs also provide an opportunity to learn and demonstrate critical thinking skills. However, I believe that most programs take time integrated into a clinical setting to gain real-life experience. Much can be demonstrated through simulation; however, application in a clinical setting is very important. The well-designed distance education offer transfers this aspect of education to the field of online learning.

What is the most common problem students face when trying to get an online education, and how can this be avoided?

Matt Cooper: The challenge our students face is not knowing where to start and finding the confidence to take the first step. We believe that new students start with enthusiasm and want to dive, but it can also feel a little overwhelming for them. With online learning also requires much more self-discipline. We’ve all heard about the struggles children and their parents have faced with virtual schooling during the pandemic, and it’s not so different for adults trying to focus on the classroom when there are endless distractions that get in the way. It is up to us to make sure that the student experience is very personalized and that there is a sufficient amount of structure offered. It is this awareness that has led us to launch the learning pathways that lead the student from A to Z on the topic.

MLS: Students may mistakenly believe that online education is easier than traditional means of delivery. Students must possess a significant level of self-determination to adequately plan, organize, and successfully complete an assignment, course, and program. The main difference between distance and local education is the importance of learning from each other and participating in courses with classmates and teachers in two-way communication. Distance learning involves much less sitting and passive listening. It is interactive to the point that it is necessary for success. An online student can’t sit in the last row of class and just listen. To be successful, you need to be involved. Students must immerse themselves in learning.

What is the biggest challenge you have faced as an expert in this field?

MC: The personal learning experience is unique and its benefits are innumerable. Our biggest challenge is figuring out how to take advantage of the long list of benefits of online learning and then bridging gaps in some other areas that traditionally prefer the personal model. To do this, we can make the content as engaging as possible by ensuring that our teachers weave true personal stories and even conveniently point out their mistakes. We can also provide mechanisms for receiving feedback and input from teachers and other students, and we can recreate the energy of the personal classroom with live sessions and questions and answers. We learn all of these things through our core membership experience, as well as in our Chroma-based cohort courses.

What are the three biggest benefits of online learning if someone wants to get a degree in nursing?

MLS: The first is the flexibility of the schedule to ensure a balance in life with work and family. In addition, access to a wide range of programs, not limited to geography, and equity students. High-quality course design, which includes several methods of disseminating information and assessing knowledge, provides a much more balanced classroom than the traditional approach to learning with lectures and tests.

JH: My view of this is shaped by the fascinating stories of our students and recent graduates. They told us they chose our online programs because they were flexible and allowed them to continue working as nurses while they received their degrees. Many of our students returned to tell us that our true assessments were a reflection of the knowledge, skills, and attitudes that helped them be successful in the workplace. Our focus on competence (rather than on task time or writing) and collaboration with faculty is crucial in this development. Thanks to online learning, schools can finally provide a rigorous, rich and sophisticated program that feels modern and relevant – at a fair price.

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