HealthAugust 30, 2016

Technology in nursing education: Can you keep up with today's learners?

The US Department of Education’s 2016 National Education Technology Plan (NETP) outlines a national vision and plan for the use of technology in education, building on the work of technology and education leaders in the country. Much of the recommendations and conversation in this document align with the Activities to Support the Effective Use of Technology (Title IV A) of Every Student Succeeds Act as authorized by Congress in December 2015. The focus is to commit to work together as teachers across the education continuum to use technology to improve education in America.

NEPT 2010 accomplishments

  • Shifting the conversation from whether to use technology to how to use it to improve learning and assure high-quality educational experiences
  • Using technology for a student-centered approach to teaching and learning to give students more choice on how to develop self-learning skills and strategies
  • Knowing more about how people learn i.e.,the importance of context and how it informs successful engagement of learning material
  • Better understanding by educators about what learners need to know and what competencies are needed for success
  • Better understanding of the needs of our learners as well as more real-time outcome through advances in technology software and our ability to adapt the software
  • Hardware upgrades ensure faster high-speed connectivity for use in the classroom
  • Decreasing hardware and software costs leading to an increase in the use of interactive tools and apps
  • Re-envisioning our learning spaces to engage our learners more actively and with one another through technology

Key question for nursing education

Since technology has already accomplished these key points in K-12 education,what are the education expectations of our future nursing students? Is nursing education ready for this generation of learners?

What should we know about the work of NEPT 2016?

  • Digital use divide: the gap that exists between learners who are using technology in active creative ways and those who use technology more passively (i.e., “passive content consumption”)
  • Continue research to learn more about outcomes through technology use across the continuum of learning
  • Use current evidence to inform better use of technology to accelerate and scale-up new and effective technology approaches
  • Use of technology to support informal learning that aligns with achieving formal learning outcomes
  • A focus on teacher preparation to use technology effectively

How does this inform nursing educational strategies for the immediate future?

Five key technology consideration points adapted from the recommendations outlined in the Department of Education Report (2016) are further explored to assist you in evaluating the use of technology in your nursing curriculum and stay abreast of the technology enhancements in our K-12 schools. Nursing education needs to leverage technology to help transform nursing education.  We can’t teach the way we used to in a changing culture of technology-active engagement.

U.S Department of Education (2016). Future ready learning: Reimagining the role of technology in education. Office of Educational Technology. Retrieved from

An increasing number of nursing school administrators and faculty are realizing just that. The traditional format many instructors are used to often consisted of inundating students with vast amounts of information without explaining how it fit into the bigger picture. Nursing schools need something designed for the 21st-century learner – a non-linear way of looking at nursing and how to deliver care.

This powerful testimonial from Michael Youngwood, a nurse educator at Haywood Community College in North Carolina, explains how his school knew they needed a new approach to better immerse their students in the learning process and prepare them for practice – and how they found a solution in concept-based learning.

Watch and Learn

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