Issues In Delivering Content In Distant Education In Nursing

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Distant Education In Nursing and Issues In Delivering Content

Issues In Delivering Content In Distant Education In Nursing

What are Issues in Delivering Content ,Who is the Customer In Distant Learning,Maintain Extremely High Academic Standards In Distant Content Delivery,University Faculty Evaluation Committees In Distant Content Delivery,Techniques to Make Learning Easier In Distant Content Delivery.

What are Issues in Delivering Content 

Key Issues in Delivering Content to Distance Students

Some key issues involved in using the Internet to deliver distance courses include 

(a) knowing your customer

(b) development of a student facilitation model of teaching

(c) preservation of academic standards

(d) registration and enrollment issues. 

There is a lot to think through in each of these areas if a high quality, credible educational program is to be offered through the Internet. 

Who is the Customer In Distant Learning?

    In this medium, more than in any other, students are your customers. Clearly, each student must be given a good education and should receive good service from the entire educational institution, from the registrar and teacher to the support staff. As more colleges and universities get into the business of offering online courses, students have more choices. 

    Thus, it is important to market to potential students, and part of marketing is excellent service. The student should be able to discover your online program through trade journals, Internet search engines, and professional contacts. Every university should have an online registration and enrollment system. Students should not have to use the US postal service (called “snail mail” by e-mail users). One of the problems for graduating students is the need to contact their undergraduate universities by mail to obtain transcripts. 

    It is important that universities develop a system whereby a student can pay for a transcript online with a credit card, and the university simply e-mails the transcript to the graduate school or department where the student plans to enroll. In our experience, this transcript issue has caused too many delays in enrollment.

    Students are your most immediate customers. They are neither your only nor your most important customer. The most important customer is the future employer of your graduates. It is important for all faculty to maintain a relationship with community employers, and if possible, with the national employer community. 

    We regularly meet with local directors of nursing and agency CEOs to talk about what they think we should include in our courses. We have department meetings with these people to consult with them on the full curriculum. Maintaining close contact with the world in which your students are expected to function is essential to the quality of your content.

    Ultimately, your customer is all of society. In publicly owned schools, taxes provide at least some of the support for overhead, faculty salaries, and other costs. Even if none of the costs are tax-supported, the value of your educational offerings will ultimately be judged by society's respect for your graduates. It is important to maintain the goodwill of the public because schools are social institutions. 

    If your graduates have poor skills, ultimately your university's reputation will suffer; and parents, teachers, high school counselors, and other advisors will not encourage students to seek their education from your school. Both faculty and students are ultimately public relations representatives for your school. It is everyone's job to ensure that a degree from your institution is treated with respect and admiration everywhere.

Maintain Extremely High Academic Standards In Distant Content Delivery

    Students must leave their course with marketable new knowledge and skills. If the degree your university confers is not backed by solid knowledge and skills, the value of a degree from your institution will decline. We once knew of a vice president of nursing who would not hire nursing graduates with master's degrees from the local university. She claimed that their degrees were given too easily and that the students could not communicate well in writing. 

    She further noted that if their skills were not a significant improvement over the skills of the nurses with a basic nursing education, she could not justify paying them more. In another case, where there was a lot of cheating in a computer programming department, the university began having trouble placing students in local businesses. Students found they had to leave town to find a job because local employers had no faith in their work skills and work habits. 

    The moral of these two stories is that although there may be pressure from a few students to give good grades for poor performance, giving in to that pressure is ultimately an unsuccessful strategy. Unfortunately, those few students can create havoc in a teacher's life. Even more unfortunately, some administrators too quickly assume that the teacher is at fault if a student complains about a teacher to the school's administration. 

    The vast majority of students are motivated to work hard and they value the new skills they learn in well-designed, academically rigorous courses. In fact, good students will rightly complain if a course doesn't teach them anything new. It is essential that administrators listen carefully to student complaints and discriminate between complaints that have validity and complaints that are based on a student wanting an unfairly high grade. 

    There should be a peer review process in place so that the quality of courses can be checked. Obviously, student evaluations of a course are one important source of information about the quality of a course (either online or on campus). But they should not be the only source of information about course quality. Other expert instructors should review every online course, ideally before it goes live, to ensure that its quality and content are excellent, that it flows smoothly, and that there is the right amount of work for credit hours awarded.

University Faculty Evaluation Committees In Distant Content Delivery

    Such groups must be extremely careful when interpreting student evaluations of faculty and courses. In our opinion, the student's evaluation should be linked with the student's course grade. If it can be demonstrated that evaluations correlate highly with student grades, then only the A students' course evaluations should be considered in faculty evaluations. 

    Faculty members are smart, and if they find that their job evaluations and merit raises are dependent on making every student happy with them, grade inflation is the only possible result. Ultimately, grade inflation is the fault of the system, not of the individual teacher. This is true of all courses, but especially of online courses because of the great personal discipline required of distance students.

Techniques to Make Learning Easier In Distant Content Delivery

    Make difficult content easier to learn by reducing the red tape and unnecessary bureaucracy as much as possible, not by “dumping down” your content and expectations. Be meticulous about organizing the material in such a way that learning proceeds logically. Avoid jumping back and forth between topics. Make the course and module objectives explicit, clear, and measurable. 

    For example, avoid objectives such as “The student will understand how to start an IV.” A better objective might be “The student will list the five principles of starting an IV and will successfully demonstrate the technique.” Then break down the module into sub objectives that incorporate the five principles. Course and module objectives must be behavioral, measurable, and clearly linked to both individual class session objectives and to assignments, projects, and examinations.

    Difficult content should be broken up into small bites. To the extent possible, liberally sprinkle it with visuals. Most people are highly visual learners; Photos, graphics, and, if possible, videos should be incorporated into their learning materials (Horton, 2000). Difficult content is almost always somewhat boring to read, so the teacher can add interest if visuals are colorful. Color attracts the eye and holds the interest. 

    Whenever possible, create small learning activities that will help the student learn content in small difficult steps. For example, the nursing process is a fairly difficult one, so it is taught in separate steps. First, students spend a lot of time learning different assessment techniques. Then they learn various nursing diagnoses and nursing interventions together. 

    The interventions and assessment techniques are fun to learn, but making nursing diagnoses a complex, critical thinking, cognitive process is more difficult and not nearly as much fun to learn. So, it is taught throughout while the most enjoyable techniques are taught intermittently. In this way, students are able to put it all together so that they can provide comprehensive care to patients.

    Consider this piecemeal approach to teaching difficult content. Break long modules into shorter units. Associate fun learning activities with each unit and give the students sufficient time to complete each unit, but insist that they make steady progress on unit completion. 

    I try not to be too lenient about late assignments unless the student has a bonafide excuse like a serious illness or a death in the family. “I fell behind” isn't acceptable. It isn't helpful to students to let them fall behind and many students need the discipline of knowing there is a penalty for late assignments.

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