Technology has allowed education to blossom beyond in-person lecture, which, let’s be honest, can feel a little stagnant at times. (“Bueller? Bueller? Bueller?”)
Blended learning — a method of instruction that combines classroom lecture with online tools — can improve interactivity, increase learner engagement, and just shake things up a bit.
Writing in Critical Care Nursing Quarterly, hospital nurse educator Janice Rovira Ratka, BSN, RN, addressed the downward trend of classroom-only training and the upward swing of Web-based education in recent decades. Today’s incoming workforce, she noted, is full of “digital natives … born with a mouse in their hands and ear buds in each ear… They have been developing technologically advanced multimedia presentations since grade school.”
For nurse educators who consider themselves more digital immigrants than natives but who have a desire to stay relevant and reap the advantages technology can offer, Ratka offers a handful of suggestions on Web-based tools to incorporate blended learning. Here are a few possibilities you might want to check out.
Both wikis and blogs allow for interactive discussions among multiple users. Fun fact for you: The word “wiki” is Hawaiian for “quick,” Ratka explained. Think of Wikipedia, which allows users to write and edit entries to create an online encyclopedia. Wikis can be password-protected and are geared for multiple users.
Blogs, meanwhile, are owned by one person who is in charge of the overall content. “Others can contribute their ideas,” Ratka wrote, “but each person is only able to edit their own content.”
Nurse educators could use a wiki or blog for a group projects such as writing a case study or answering course questions posted by the instructor.
Podcasts, audio or audio-visual content, “opens up a whole new realm of possibilities,” Ratka observed. Nurse educators could create their own or assign podcasts created by other clinical experts.
Ratka described a WebQuest as “an Internet scavenger hunt for information needed to solve a realistic problem.”
WebQuests are comprised of 4 parts:
“[T]he hallmark of a good WebQuest,” Ratka wrote, “is one that is based on a task that reflects real-life, requires higher-level thinking, and makes good use of Internet resources rather than centering on printed research materials.”
Second Life isn’t gaming, but it is a virtual world complete with an avatar that represents the learner. Educators create the environment, equipment, and patients in the scenario, and, like simulation labs, allow learns to practice skills without the possibility of harming real-life patients. (But Second Life is much less expensive than a simulation lab).
“Second Life solves a myriad of training problems,” Ratka explained. “Second Life avatar patients can be made to exhibit any conceivable symptom and require the use of any type of equipment. The avatar can also be made to interact just as a patient would…
“Second Life is a safe place to learn by failing.”
Is your organization utilizing any innovative educational techniques that support mixed media and blended learning approaches? If so, what if any effect do you see on clinical competency? Leave us a comment below.