Journal of Nursing Education

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Guest Editorial 

Technology: An Imperative for Teaching in the Age of Digital Natives

Michael R. Bleich, PhD, RN, FAAN

Abstract

This issue of the Journal of Nursing Education addresses a topic of increased importance to all nurse educators—teaching with technology. Gems of ideas are interspersed throughout each article, particularly related to Web-based (online) teaching strategies. Web-based instruction requires a heightened level of innovation and teacher preparation not unlike past movements when team teaching, the use of an integrated curriculum, or interactive television swept into classrooms. Successful adaptation to Web-based instruction requires competence in modularizing concepts and topics, strategies that engage active learning, and assignments that validate both individual and group attainment of course objectives. Being facile with the tools embedded within a technology teaching-learning platform requires work but enlivens learning opportunities and student engagement. Another instructional competency is time management and boundary setting while building an online learning community. Look for these ideas in each article.

As digital natives fill our classrooms, faculties no longer have the luxury of pleading digital naïveté. As educators, our conversations about technology in teaching must be broadened to include the expansive array of topics that would move us to the proactive side of technology application. Presented here are some topics to consider.

Imagine the possibility of being digitally present to students globally! The Metropolitan Opera in New York now broadcasts live in local theatres, and at a recent conference of the American Organization of Nurse Executives, the keynote speaker, Ray Kurzweil, presented in a three-dimensional format with real-time participant interaction! Are these the near-future solutions to address expert faculty shortages?

Can surveillance technology find a place in the nursing classroom? The media portrays the dark side of surveillance, yet this technology could resolve some academic quagmires. Imagine students at remote points-of-care requiring supervision and how they might benefit from engaging with an expert instructor, separated by miles. Think about how a handheld surveillance device could save steps and eradicate the frustration of an instructor trying to meet the real-time needs of multiple clinical students in multiple locations (even within the same facility). Could faculty-student ratios safely and comfortably be increased to the delight of faculty, or is this an oxymoron? Other issues such as plagiarism and proof of who is actually doing the work in an online environment could be appeased with the nursing application of surveillance technology.

What about technology applications associated with simulation? Nursing has made substantive strides in simulation, yet we still scratch the surface with its potential. The knowledge we could acquire from avionics and the military, for example, when addressing contextual and situational learning opportunities is staggering. Simulation has the potential to complement skill attainment and functional decision making and to ready students for real-world experiences. In the broadest sense, simulation extends beyond the laboratory applications in use and extends to three-dimensional gaming, interactional responses, and other trends that can most readily be observed in the arcade games enjoyed by children.

Finally, communication and information technology has created social networks unforeseen in the past two decades. Connectivity reached new heights in the most recent presidential campaign and is a study in relationship building, data entry and mining, and application. Although past energy was placed on electronic health records, communication and information technology is accelerating as open-source uses (i.e., Wikipedia) surpass systemically developed applications. Educators must embrace both and are the link between formal and informal teaching applications.

The authors who contributed to this issue of the Journal are faculty who possess the skills that demonstrate their technology competence and growing wisdom. Join them as they thrive in their future academic careers. Technology applications in education are real, relevant, and mounting, and the journey—and critical discourse needed to creatively advance…

This issue of the Journal of Nursing Education addresses a topic of increased importance to all nurse educators—teaching with technology. Gems of ideas are interspersed throughout each article, particularly related to Web-based (online) teaching strategies. Web-based instruction requires a heightened level of innovation and teacher preparation not unlike past movements when team teaching, the use of an integrated curriculum, or interactive television swept into classrooms. Successful adaptation to Web-based instruction requires competence in modularizing concepts and topics, strategies that engage active learning, and assignments that validate both individual and group attainment of course objectives. Being facile with the tools embedded within a technology teaching-learning platform requires work but enlivens learning opportunities and student engagement. Another instructional competency is time management and boundary setting while building an online learning community. Look for these ideas in each article.

As digital natives fill our classrooms, faculties no longer have the luxury of pleading digital naïveté. As educators, our conversations about technology in teaching must be broadened to include the expansive array of topics that would move us to the proactive side of technology application. Presented here are some topics to consider.

Imagine the possibility of being digitally present to students globally! The Metropolitan Opera in New York now broadcasts live in local theatres, and at a recent conference of the American Organization of Nurse Executives, the keynote speaker, Ray Kurzweil, presented in a three-dimensional format with real-time participant interaction! Are these the near-future solutions to address expert faculty shortages?

Can surveillance technology find a place in the nursing classroom? The media portrays the dark side of surveillance, yet this technology could resolve some academic quagmires. Imagine students at remote points-of-care requiring supervision and how they might benefit from engaging with an expert instructor, separated by miles. Think about how a handheld surveillance device could save steps and eradicate the frustration of an instructor trying to meet the real-time needs of multiple clinical students in multiple locations (even within the same facility). Could faculty-student ratios safely and comfortably be increased to the delight of faculty, or is this an oxymoron? Other issues such as plagiarism and proof of who is actually doing the work in an online environment could be appeased with the nursing application of surveillance technology.

What about technology applications associated with simulation? Nursing has made substantive strides in simulation, yet we still scratch the surface with its potential. The knowledge we could acquire from avionics and the military, for example, when addressing contextual and situational learning opportunities is staggering. Simulation has the potential to complement skill attainment and functional decision making and to ready students for real-world experiences. In the broadest sense, simulation extends beyond the laboratory applications in use and extends to three-dimensional gaming, interactional responses, and other trends that can most readily be observed in the arcade games enjoyed by children.

Finally, communication and information technology has created social networks unforeseen in the past two decades. Connectivity reached new heights in the most recent presidential campaign and is a study in relationship building, data entry and mining, and application. Although past energy was placed on electronic health records, communication and information technology is accelerating as open-source uses (i.e., Wikipedia) surpass systemically developed applications. Educators must embrace both and are the link between formal and informal teaching applications.

The authors who contributed to this issue of the Journal are faculty who possess the skills that demonstrate their technology competence and growing wisdom. Join them as they thrive in their future academic careers. Technology applications in education are real, relevant, and mounting, and the journey—and critical discourse needed to creatively advance nursing education—is en route.

Michael R. Bleich, PhD, RN, FAAN
Dean and Dr. Carol A. Lindeman Distinguished
Professor of Nursing
Oregon Health & Science University School of Nursing
Portland, Oregon

10.3928/01484834-20090201-04

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