Distant Education In Nursing Colleges and Role of Faculty

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Nursing Colleges and Role of Faculty In Distant Education

Distant Education In Nursing Colleges and Role of Faculty

Distance Education In The College Of Nursing,Role Of The Faculty In Distant Education.

Distance Education In The College Of Nursing

    University of South Carolina College of Nursing offered its first distance education course via closed circuit television in the 1984 spring semester. Nursing 700, Theoretical and Conceptual Foundations for Nursing, a graduate course, was offered at the nine regional campuses and at 31 hospitals throughout the state. The course was televised live on Saturday mornings. Students used talk-back via telephone to communicate with the instructor and fellow students.

    During the 10 years following the first distance education offering, the number of distance education courses offered by the College of Nursing (CON) grew to more than 22, and in 2004 the number of distance education courses offered per semester varied between 8 and 12. Courses were offered within the MSN program, in the RN-BSN completion program, and the PhD program. In 1994, the College of Nursing's new television complex was used for the first time. 

    This complex, a multipurpose, 52-seat studio has a wide-screen projector that benefits students viewing at a distance because they are able to see images more clearly. A presenter-driven computer with state-of-the-art multimedia technology is available in the studio to conduct distance education courses. Faculty are able to create presentations that include text, sound, full-motion video, and animation.

    Starting in 2000, the College of Nursing began to develop online courses to meet the needs of distant students. The first course of this type was an undergraduate (RN-BSN) course, Nursing 410, Nursing Research. This course was developed collaboratively among the three campuses of the USC system. 

    Alexander, Polyakova-Norwood, Johnston, Christensen, and Loquist (2003) describe use of the distance education literature to develop and evaluate the course. From that beginning in online teaching, several other courses in the RN-BSN program and a PhD seminar course were offered, using the online format for distance education.

    Currently, the bulk of distance education courses are offered at the graduate (master's and ND levels). In these courses, students who reside in Columbia attend class on campus, which is delivered to students at distance sites via satellite. 

    Distance education sites use closed circuit technology/phone at a variety of sites throughout the state. Students are generally required to be on campus for the first-class session and perhaps once more during the semester for in class activities such as presentations, exams, or other work. 

    Faculty generally limit on campus class time to no more than two classes to preserve the conveniences of distance education, because students may travel 150 miles or more (each way) to come to Columbia and may be taking more than one course per semester on different days. 

    When the online format is used, faculty members also use some face to face contact and have students come to campus at least once over the course of the semester. Currently, CON is not offering any courses using a totally online format. 

Role Of The Faculty In Distant Education

    In order to teach using distance educational methods, nursing faculty must be proficient in the use of the technology. When the format used is that of satellite broadcast in a live format, Distance Education and Instructional Support (DEIS) at USC provides a technician who sets up the studio and runs the camera. 

    However, faculty must be aware of the limitations on movement and the use of the touch screen to switch the visuals displayed on the screen for the students (eg, computer display, overhead projector, or video from the camera). Additionally, faculty must recognize the impact of color and font size on the quality of material that is used in broadcast. 

    The same general skills are needed for presenting class content during video conferencing sessions or for content that will be videotaped or video-streamed for later use. This differs from general classes in that it may be more difficult for students to see materials via video that are projected in the classroom. 

    If an online modality is used, faculty need familiarity with how to post content on the course management software. Faculty at USC decided to use the universal HTML format to post material on Web sites for online courses so that students could access any part of the course with a Web browser without loading specific software, such as Microsoft Word or Microsoft PowerPoint.

    Additionally, as suggested by many distance education experts (Harasim et al., 1995; Haughey & Anderson, 1998; Kearsley, 2000; Palloff & Pratt, 1999), transition to the online environment necessitated changes in the faculty-student relationship. 

    The delivery of most of the course content is primarily through didactic methods (eg, posting of HTML “lecture” notes on Blackboard); however, some portions of the course should introduce students to more active learning through moderated class discussions and guided exploration of Web-based resources. 

    The latter teaching strategy requires faculty to develop questions that stimulate discussion, assess student learning in nontraditional ways, and provide interactivity among faculty and learners (Moore, 1989; O'Neil, Fisher, & Newbold, 2004).

    With any distance-education course delivery modality, faculty must create a social presence. Social presence is the degree to which a person perceives other people as real and the degree to which learners feel the presence of their instructors (Gunawardena & Zittle, 1997). Posting a brief biographical note or picture on Blackboard is one way to do this.

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