Preparation of Faculty in the Era of Educational Technology
Submitted by Josephine Kamera, MSN, RN
Online Nursing Education Advantages
Online learning is increasingly becoming a popular approach in nursing education. Online nursing education has several advantages. It attracts students, increase student enrollment, and provides access to students who are not able to attend face to face classes. This revolution has enabled students from every corner of the world to earn degrees from wherever they are (Lindsay, Jeffrey, & Singh, 2009).
Both students and faculty do not have to commute to class. To the students, learning is self-paced and individually managed. However to the faculty, teaching online can bring its own challenges. Proficiency in educational technology becomes imperative for faculty who teaches online. When traditional courses are converted to an online format, a paradigm shift takes place (Johnson, 2008). This paper will examine some of the ways of preparing nursing faculty to implement on-line courses effectively.
Preparing Faculty in Technology
First, for nursing faculty to be able to implement on-line courses effectively, they have to be proficient with the learning system programs that are used to teach on line courses. Teaching online requires knowledge of technology. The pedagogy of education is very broad. To address various student learning styles, information can be presented in multiple media such as discussions, role play and demonstrations. In face to face interaction, these various teaching innovations are easily implemented in the physical environment. Challenges arise when information has to be presented in the virtual media. The teacher has to poses exceptional skills in utilizing educational technology to effectively convey information to students (Doutrich, Hoeksel, Wykoff, & Thiele 2005). Hence success of online teaching heavily relies on technology competence of the faculty.
Many nurses come into nursing faculty role from various professional backgrounds with different educational preparation. Some faculty comes with proficiency in educational technology and some with very limited knowledge about technology. One way to prepare nurse graduates regardless of what specialty they want to take is when they are in graduate school.
Various colleges are adding technology courses in graduate nursing curriculum to prepare the graduates with skills and knowledge to use technology. If any of these graduates choose nursing faculty role, they would be already equipped with necessary skills to teach online. In preparing nurse educators for the future, nursing programs need to be forward thinking rather than stuck in the past (Doutrich et al., 2005). Therefore nursing faculty should be best prepared while they are in graduate school.
Another way of improving technology competency of all novice and experienced faculty is to evaluate their level of knowledge in technology before they start teaching on line courses. Fetter (2009) writes that evaluations of Information Technology (IT) competency for most faculty and students indicated novice skills yet nursing professionals need technology skills for patient safety and quality care. All institutional departments must make time for faculty to attend educational technology in-service meetings and learn how emerging technology is used (Doutrich et al., 2005). It would be most beneficial if competency in technology will be made a mandatory requirement for all faculty especially those who will be teaching on-line courses.
Technology advancement demands continuous education in the use of educational technology and faculty has an obligation to keep up with this advancement. Ongoing development in using and adapting to new educational technology innovations is needed by faculty for effective teaching on line. Nursing faculty need to be proactive to keep up with fast changes in technology. Faculty development is the key to stay abreast with the most recent educational technological changes. To provide support and mentoring to both novices and advanced beginners, faculty development should occur in groups or teams (Ali et al., 2005). Teamwork provides motivation and sharing of skills and enhances learning of new skills. Also working in collaboration with IT departments can ensure continuous support in educational technology.
Overcoming Barriers in Learning Technology
Although technology offers huge benefits of teaching and learning on line, the benefits come with other burdens. Most notably barriers in learning new educational technology strategies are resistance, fear and discomfort with new methodologies (Faculty Matters, 2006). The introduction of web based instruction was not welcomed by most nurse educators who were accustomed and comfortable with traditional face-to-face instruction (Johnson, 2008). Change is coming slowly to such educators.
Institutions need intense allocation of resources for faculty development in technology-enhanced learning to improve both students and faculty satisfaction (Lindsay, et al., 2009). Blake, (2009) also suggests that E-learning strategies must focus on improving staff knowledge and satisfaction with technology. Because technology proficiency can be achieved at various levels within the profession, novice and experienced faculty can still adapt to technology if they are willing to change and learn.
Nursing education is increasingly being offered online. While this learning revolution is expanding and increasing in popularity, faculty who teaches online courses are constantly challenged to present information in a virtual media. Thus faculty needs to be best prepared to teach online courses. Faculty need to poses excellent skills in technology. Preparing faculty can be done in graduate school, through staff development and, continuous in-service learning of new technology. Success of online teaching heavily relies on technology competency of the faculty. Technology competency of nursing faculty is integral to academic achievement of online nursing students.
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