Nursing Education and Distance Learning

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Distance Education and Nursing

Nursing Education and Distance Learning

What Is Distance Education,Implementation of Distance Education In Nursing and Modes,Impact of Distance Education On Nursing Profession,Outcomes of Distance Education on Nursing Profession.

What Is Distance Education

    Distance education is defined as a formal educational process that provides instruction using technology where the students and instructor are not in the same general location. The students who are taking distance education courses are separated by geographical or physical distance from the instructor ( Zerwekh , 2011). The distance education student may be in the same general location or a different country than the instructor, but there is no physical presence on campus.

Implementation of Distance Education In Nursing and Modes

    Distance education involves communication using some form of technology that provides learning. Beaudoin (1990) positives that distance education is learner centered where the faculty reinforces learning through explanations, references, and thoughtful questioning. The education may be in the form of online (e-learning), video conference, audio conference, or combination of online and audio conferencing called webinar. Distance education may be offered to students in a synchronous or asynchronous format.

    The distance education format that is emphasized and utilized most frequently is online (e-learning). The online format uses course management systems that are considered in the classroom. The students may be assigned several learning activities including written assignments, debates, concept maps, case studies, examinations, or journaling. Instructors may offer office hours via synchronous chat or videoconferencing. The instructor facilitates learning by using Socratic questioning in the discussion board and grading of assignments. The students must be active in the online environment. Motivated, self-directed, and disciplined to complete the discussions and assignments.

    Students may be assigned discussions or assignments with deadlines so that the students may complete their work on their own time within the time frame assigned. The instructor facilitates discussions using Socratic questions for deep critical thinking. Some online courses may require students to attend synchronous sessions to discuss difficult concepts. The institution where the course is being offered defines the synchronous or asynchronous learning expectations for online courses and programs.

    Videoconferencing is a distance education format where the instructor is at the education site and the students are present at another location. The videoconferencing format allows for the student and instructor to be available synchronously but at different locations. The distance classroom has two way monitors where students and instructors can see each other in real time. The instructor can share presentations and resources with students. The learning activities that can be used are the same that may be used in the traditional classroom. The distant site has support staff to assist with technology issues and student support.

    Audio conferencing is a distant education format where learning occurs over the telephone. The instructor is located at one place and students may be at another place or call from their home. Audio conferencing may be incorporated in a blended format with online courses or webinars. Audio conferencing is synchronous, and students and instructors are able to communicate in real time. The learning activity that may be found during audio conferencing is discussions of current topics.

    Webinar is a distance education format where there is a one-way video broadcast via the Internet with the instructor at one location and students at one or more locations. The instructor presents the webinar and controls the audio and video. The students call from the computer or phone. They are able to see the video online and hear the conference, but the instructor is not able to see the students. Students are able to ask questions via the chat box and open discussion sessions. The instructors and students meet in a synchronous format. The learning activities that may be used include discussions, polling, and brainstorming

Impact of Distance Education On Nursing Profession

    Distance education provides opportunities for students in rural and under served areas who may not otherwise be able to obtain a degree due to travel, personal, or time constraints. Frith (2013) presents the advantages of distance education for students who would not have an opportunity for education, including access and flexibility for those who would not have access to education due to no local programs, work, or family schedules. The disadvantages include students who may often feel they are alone and technology issues. Distance education requires the use of technology that is ever changing.

    Distance education is continually changing with the rapid technological advances. A critical component of distance education is the ability of the educational institution to adapt to the technological advances in order to facilitate student learning in the rapidly changing environment. Distance education will continue to increase due to the technology driven health care industry and evolving technologies (Jones & Wolf, 2010). With evolving technology found in the health care environment, new and technologies must be incorporated in the emerging distance education environment.

    Distance education that is synchronous occurs when the student and learner are interacting at the same time but in different locations. This may occur using video conferencing, teleconferencing, or instant messaging. The main advantage to synchronous learning is increased communication and decreased travel time. The disadvantages include technological issues and audio functionality ( Zsohar & Smith, 2008). The benefits for synchronous instruction are that students and instructors are available at the same time and immediate feedback is available.

    Distance education that is asynchronous allows the instructor and student the ability and flexibility to complete learning activities at different times. The students have deadlines to complete assignments. The students have the time to formulate thoughts and ideas, not interrupted by other students, and create records of discussions ( Zsohar & Smith, 2008). The dis advantages are that students have no direct contact, have a loss of spontaneity, and have limitations in discussions ( Zsohar & Smith, 2008). The main benefit of asynchronous learning is that students are able to complete course work at a time that is convenient to them.

Outcomes of Distance Education on Nursing Profession

    Distance education provides opportunities for students who may not otherwise have an opportunity to obtain a degree. To provide the best opportunity for students, the distance education course or program must consider the learning styles of all students. Faculty must be familiar with multiple media formats that are available. There is a need for current research on emerging technologies to examine if they promote student learning.

    Further research should be considered to evaluate the implementation of distant education teaching methodologies. Nursing education should examine the modalities to identify if they are meeting the needs of different learning styles (Mancuso Murphy, 2007). If students are having difficulty with the online environment there will be high student turnover. Research should also examine student turnover in the distance education environment.

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