HealthJanuary 12, 2018

Future of technology in nursing education part 2: How nursing education programs are currently using educational technology

By: Sue Forneris and Jone Tiffany, NLN Center for Innovation and Simulation in Technology

"The What and Why of Technology Use in Today's Nursing Student" is a four-part series that focuses on the technology today's Nursing Students are using when learning and providing patient care. Part 2 focuses on what is currently being used by educators in their teaching environments.

In our continuing four-part series on the Future of Technology in Nursing Education, the dialogue continues around the changing faculty role in nursing education. Our goal is to reframe how nursing students are taught and how graduates engage with patients and their caregivers in the connected age of health care (NLN, 2015). Part 2 will discuss findings from the NLN and Wolters Kluwer national survey on the use of technology in schools of nursing across the country. The lens for this blog submission is focused on How Schools of Nursing Are Using Educational Technology.

This NLN/WKH infographic identifies the top three educational technologies currently in use by nursing education programs, with the percentages in parentheses indicating the percent of schools reporting use of the technology. The top technology in use today is video for skills (84 percent) followed by online/distance learning (75 percent) and virtual simulation (65 percent), tied closely with adaptive quizzing and testing (64 percent).

The NMC Horizon Report (Adams Becker et al., 2017) identifies key trends accelerating higher education technology adoption. The trends span a continuum, from short term to long term.

  • Examples of short-term trends are the development of blended learning designs and collaborative learning.
  • Mid-term trends include the emphasis being placed on measuring learning outcomes and redesigning the learning space (e.g., collaborative and active learning environments).
  • Long-term trends include teaching strategies that take a deeper dive at guiding student thinking.

Reflecting on the above data, it is apparent that nursing programs are well within the mid-term trends as evidenced by the focus on measuring learning outcomes (i.e., 64 percent adaptive quizzing and testing) and redesigning learning spaces (i.e., 85 percent distance learning and 65 percent virtual simulation). Only a small percentage of programs are ahead of the game in the use of technology to address the long-term trend of guiding student thinking and learning. Data analytic tools such as predictive analytics are used by 14 percent of programs and maker spaces by 8 percent.

Clearly there are challenges to the adoption of technology in higher education. While trends are accelerating, Skiba (2017) discusses Horizon Report challenges (solvable, difficult, and wicked) that interfere in our ability to adopt specific technologies despite the trends pushing adoption. One wicked challenge, according to Skiba, is to rethink the roles of educators, the ongoing conversation in nursing education surrounding passive vs active teaching. Are we the Sage on the Stage or the Guide by the Side?  

The point here is that to address the long-term trend of using teaching strategies that take a deep dive at guiding student thinking, WE MUST STOP LECTURING. We can only be successful if we engage students to use their content knowledge in the learning environment. Only a small percentage of nursing programs have figured this out as they rethink their roles and create opportunities for students to actively engage in the content being taught using technologies such as data analytic tools or maker spaces.

Are we ready to take on this wicked challenge? Technology will drive student expectations as our younger leaners enter higher education. Preparing future nurses to navigate the technology-laden health care environment provides an even stronger reason to tackle this wicked challenge. Skiba (2017) makes a poignant analogy in helping us understand the importance of the changing faculty role in guiding student learning in a technologically driven learning environment. That is, the delivery of holistic patient care in today's health care environment will require the preparation of nurses in a holistic learning environment.

Take a minute to review the complete survey findings on How Nursing Education Programs are currently using Educational Technology - our Infographic #2 . We hope that this conversation has continued to enhance your interest and activate your engagement in overcoming the wicked challenges identified above. In our next submission, we will continue our conversation on the future of technology in nursing education, highlighting the drivers of technology adoption.

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Adams Becker, S., Cummins, M., Davis, A., Freeman, A., Hall Giesinger, C., & Anathanarayanan, V. (2017)NMC horizon report: 2017 higher education edition.  Austin, TX:  New Media Consortium.

National League for Nursing. (2015) A vision for the changing faculty role: Preparing students for the technological world of health care [NLN Vision Statement].

Skiba, D. (2017). Horizon report: Knowledge obsolescence, artificial intelligence, and rethinking the educator role [Emerging Technologies Center]. Nursing Education Perspectives, 38(3), 165-167. doi: 10.1097/01.NEP.0000000000000154

This article has been republished from the NLNTEQ blog with permission.

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