An entire generation has grown up with technology at its fingertips. As a result, educators are increasingly aware of the need to find effective ways to use this burgeoning technology to enhance learning.
Nursing schools are at the forefront of the trend toward integrating technology in the classroom. Here are five examples of how nursing schools are incorporating technology into their curricula.
Internet-based Instructional Classes
Nursing schools are making it a lot easier for students to access classroom materials via the Internet, reducing the amount of time students need to spend on campus. Students are also able to review the material multiple times, enabling them to reinforce difficult concepts and better preparing them for classroom discussion and exams. Nursing students have access to classroom and other educational materials through a wide range of online sources, including:
- Pre-recorded lectures
- Online discussion boards
- Video conferencing
- Collaborative nursing wikis
- Social networks (e.g., NurseLink, AMA Nursing World).
Online options to classroom learning give nursing students the ability to access information any time, granting the flexibility many need to juggle school and work. Online options also give individuals in underserved areas the opportunity to receive a nursing education previously unavailable to them.
Virtual Reality Simulation
Virtual reality simulation is a computer-based, three-dimensional technology that recreates a clinical setting in an artificial environment. The simulated environment is free of the risks associated with students working in actual clinical settings where mistakes are costly, not only for the student but especially for the patient. In this virtual world, students are exposed to a wide range of clinical conditions during which they receive immediate feedback. Students can also practice sessions repeatedly and access the simulated world anywhere a laptop or tablet is available.
Another risk-free technology 87 percent of U.S. nursing schools are now using to give their students hands-on experience is the high-fidelity mannequin. These sophisticated, computerized devices are anatomically precise and able to mimic a variety of disease symptoms. They give students the opportunity to diagnose medical conditions, conduct various exams, and make clinical decisions that prepare them to work as nurses in the real world, but without risking patient health.
Smartphones and Tablet Computers
Smartphones and tablet computers are ubiquitous in society, and nursing schools are letting their students take full advantage of them. Some schools are even making them mandatory. Gone are the days when students had to memorize a voluminous amount of medical information and produce it on demand. Many are now whipping out their smartphones and tablets to access this information, better enabling them to respond to questions in the classroom and make quick and accurate decisions in simulated and real clinical settings.
Nursing schools realize that letting students use their smartphones and tablets as learning tools frees them from reliance on physical textbooks which often aren’t available or take years to update. Instead, nursing-related apps give students access to the most current medical information, including lab tests, drug databases, and nursing textbooks. But because of the amount of information available, nursing educators are finding it necessary to teach students how to retrieve the most relevant, reliable, and up-to-date information for any given set of circumstances.
For top nurse practitioner programs, as well as undergraduate nursing schools, have built up a heavy reliance on technology as it continues to become more deeply integrated into our day to day lives. Technology can only help to improve healthcare on the future frontier.