Nursing Education and Virtual Learning

Afza.Malik GDA

How Virtual Learning Helpful In Nursing Education

Nursing Education and Virtual Learning

 What is Virtual Learning,Use of Virtual learning In Nursing Education,Impact of Virtual Learning on Nursing Education,Outcomes of Virtual Learning in Nursing Education.

What is Virtual Learning

    Virtual learning (VL) is an online educational process that allows students to access, communicate, share and/or acquire knowledge with teachers and peers. Using software applications and computer systems available on the Internet, VL can be performed regardless of geographic locations and time zones. The VL environment (VLE) supports activities mediated by information and communications technologies (ICT), such as real time video or web conferencing. 

    VLE mimics what traditional classrooms offer by posting predefined course requirements via bulletin boards, email notifications, and forums/blogs via asynchronous communication, or conducting real time lectures or Q&A sessions via chat rooms or instant messaging through asynchronous communication. VL is also said to be similar to other educational technologies such as distance education, e learning or online learning due to the use of ICT.

Use of Virtual learning In Nursing Education

    Franceschi, Lee, Zanakis, and Hinds (2009) described virtual worlds as online sites containing virtual landscapes, buildings, and artifacts in which multiple users assume fantasy identities, play roles, and interact simultaneously using avatars (a virtual person representing the computer user). In a three dimensional (3D) simulated environment. The most common and distinctive features of virtual worlds include support for multiple players, a persistent 3D environment, social networking capabilities, and visual similarity to the real world. Second Life (Skiba, 2007), Mirror Lake (Curran, Elfrink & Mays, 2009), Stillwell and the Neighborhood (Giddens, Shuster & Roehrig, 2010) are examples of virtual communities that use innovative approaches to design authentic settings relevant and safe environment. 

    The application of these virtual worlds in nursing education aims to enhance student learning and enable problem-based experiences, social and group interaction, and patient participation. Important standards of care that could be taught in the virtual community are composed of characters from different demographic backgrounds and health authorities. Medical records, photographs and videos enhance the VLE. Integrated learning content in VL can encompass multiple academic terms, including clinical considerations of risk factors for patient health, relationship-based care in diverse care settings, clinical indicators of chronic disease processes, social consequences of illness, and the influence of environmental factors.

    Grady (2011) applied tele-medicine techniques to implement a virtual clinical internship in a nursing program in Pennsylvania to address barriers related to distance, time, and professional experience through video conferencing. The virtual clinical internship focused on a complex case and course of care for a patient who suffered burns in a remote, war-torn area. This type of specialized clinical experience would not have been available to these students without the innovative VLE.

Impact of Virtual Learning on Nursing Education

    VL strategies and ICT provide methods to enhance traditional nursing education, address the challenges of nursing shortages, and adapt to limited clinical and classroom spaces (Murray, 2013). An integrative review of the literature on the use of virtual worlds in nursing and health education identified three main designs. Considerations in VL. These are clinical reasoning skills, student centered learning, and teaching format (De Gagne, Oh, Kang, Vorderstrasse, & Johnson, 2013). The virtual clinical internship provided an opportunity for dialogue with the preceptor, critical reflection, and synthesis of events using technology.

Outcomes of Virtual Learning in Nursing Education

Nursing educators must engage with students, strive to instill a sense of belonging, and ensure a safe learning environment to fully realize the benefits of VL techniques in nursing education (De Gagne et al., 2013; Grady, 2011). Providing orientation sessions on the use of VL is an important aspect that should be considered to minimize student frustration due to technical issues. The availability of technical resources for the course can enhance positive and effective learning experiences (De Gagne et al., 2013). 

    Success in implementing a robust web-based curriculum with virtual worlds requires careful planning, dedicated teachers, and administrators willing to invest in technical support and equipment. Additional studies will support and expand the evidence base of VL strategies to justify the return on investment to meet the current and future needs of nursing education.

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