Web Based Courses Advantages and Disadvantages In Nursing Education

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Advantages and Disadvantages of Web Based Courses In Nursing Education

What are Web Based Courses,Advantages of  Web Based Courses In Nursing Education,Disadvantages of Web Based Courses In Nursing Education.

What are Web Based Courses,Advantages of  Web Based Courses In Nursing Education,Disadvantages of Web Based Courses In Nursing Education.

What are Web Based Courses

    This relatively new modality offers essentially nothing new to the educational process, yet properly handled may combine advantages of several of the other modalities. As with traditional on-campus courses, personal communications among teachers and students are a great strength of the format. Although contact is remote, it can (and should) be frequent. 

    The best Internet teachers plan to answer e-mail from students daily or at least two to three times per week. Students often form online study and project groups, and those students will often communicate with each other several times a day. The students may lose some communicative power because of the loss of physical or visual contact during communication. However, that may not be much of a factor as students become more accustomed to the Internet.

    Even though people are not physically together at all and may not even be together simultaneously, they are still able to communicate effectively if they have any degree of comfort with computers. More and more people have grown accustomed to personal and business use of e-mail, chat rooms, and discussion boards. Many believe they are able to communicate better through the computer than in person. 

    They believe there is less miscommunication because the written word can be viewed and edited before sending it, and inadvertent negative voice tones can be edited out. One is less likely to blur out something untoward when the communication is written. So, nobody is ever interrupted.

Advantages of  Web Based Courses In Nursing Education

    One great advantage of Web courses is their effect on people who have physical (speech or hearing) disabilities, accents, or who are just quiet or shy by nature. None of these characteristics has anything to do with intelligence, creativity, or potential class contributions. However, these kinds of barriers can seriously interfere with a student's ability or willingness to participate as a full member of the class. 

    Unfortunately, human prejudice being what it is, class members also may misinterpret another's disability as a lack of intelligence. Essentially, the Web wipes out the effects of all of these problems.As previously mentioned, shyness and most physical disabilities are not factors in writing or computer communications. People who are typically quiet in a group often find a lot to communicate via the computer. 

    Shyness (and quietness may be a form of shyness) is typically a reaction to the physical presence in one location of many strangers or casual acquaintances. Students in our Internet classes have often told us they have never before felt so comfortable participating fully in a class. They are amazed and delighted that shyness is simply not a factor in Internet courses. As teachers, we find this a truly delightful effect. 

    The input of people with a history of holding their comments in class because of disabilities of one kind or another often proves to be astute, interesting, and highly stimulating to the entire class.Other advantages include the ability of students to do class work at their own convenience. Students whose jobs require a lot of travel can take along a portable computer or use an Internet café

    Students can do class work anywhere and anytime. If traveling students are in a location where there is no local Internet service, good organization can work to keep long-distance calls to their own ISP very short. The student can call in and download lectures and discussion items to the hard drive and then sign off the Internet. The student can then study the materials on the laptop computer. Students should always use a word processor to construct their papers anyway. 

    E-mail items and discussion board items can also be constructed locally on a word processor. Then, with a short second long-distance call to the ISP, the student simply uses the cut-and-paste function to move communications from local programs to the course Internet site. Costly calls might be occasioned only if a student wishes to do a lengthy search on the Internet for further information on a class topic. 

    However, many students will organize their time in such a way that those searches are scheduled when they have access to a local Internet service.The final advantage of Web-based courses is that they satisfy customer demand. More and more people are asking that courses and whole degree programs be offered online. They are extremely convenient in terms of time for students who live busy lives and who have great difficulty with scheduling. 

    Nurses may have to work different shifts, so scheduling 3 or 4 hours a week in class at the same time every week for 15 weeks may be impossible. Faculty sometimes do not realize how inconvenient getting to class can be, especially for older students who may be dealing with arthritis, nurses with back pain, and people who live a long way from school. 

    Driving time to school can be significant for some people and add as much as 3 to 4 hours to the amount of time spent in class. Then students still have to find parking, and parking can be a serious difficulty at many universities. There may be parking expenses. Parking may be located some blocks from the classroom and walking several blocks, especially in bad weather, for a 50-year-old student can be a significant deterrence to attending classes. 

    And remember, these older students are also trying to maintain demanding full-time jobs and participate in family life. Their time is at a premium and all these factors make an online course extremely attractive. The convenience factor is becoming increasingly critical to many adult students and outweighs the disadvantages listed below. Student demand for online courses may force some colleges and universities to choose between offering more of their courses online or downsizing to fit the reduced number of traditional, full-time, on-campus students.

Disadvantages of Web Based Courses In Nursing Education

    Web-based courses do have some disadvantages. Eight key disadvantages are presented here: 

1:Lack of Availability of Computer Device or Internet Facility

   The student must have access to a computer and an Internet link. Not everyone has this technology in the home or office. If students have to come to campus anyway to use computer labs, several of the key advantages of an online course are lost. 

2:Lack of Computer Literacy

    Some students are still not computer literate; for them this modality may be ineffective.However, this disadvantage is rapidly declining as more people worldwide become very Internet literate. During the next 10 years, virtually all undergraduate college students will have grown up using computers and the Internet in school. Most prospective graduate students will come to school already using the Internet in their personal lives. They will feel as comfortable with Internet communications as they do with physical presence communication.

3:Lack of on Hand Skills or Psycho motor Skills

    Although the Internet is quite adaptable to most theory courses, there remain many challenges to teaching hands on skills content through this medium. Even more important is the need to personally watch students perform certain types of tasks if their skill level is to be assessed. For example, there have been many films developed for medical and nursing students on how to start an intravenous (IV) infusion. 

    However, watching a film will not produce a competent practitioner. The students typically practice on an artificial arm model before attempting to start an IV on a patient. Much development on how to use the Internet to teach and evaluate skill tasks remains to be done before certain kinds of courses can be offered entirely online. One way this problem can be addressed is to reduce rather than eliminate on campus course work. 

    At the University of Colorado at Denver and Health Sciences Center School of Nursing, we are making increased use of blended courses and courses that are taught entirely in an intensive on-campus format for hands-on skills content and offering students the option to take their theory courses online.

4:Unfamiliarity With Educational Format

    Many teachers are not yet sufficiently familiar with this format as an educational tool to function as instructors of Internet courses. Some are highly resistant to learning to teach on the Internet. Access to education on Internet teaching is now widely available to nursing faculty through the National League for Nursing (NLN) and through the University of Indiana. However, resistance to learning to teach in this modality dies hard for some teachers. 

    And it is not correct to say that impending retirement of older teachers will solve the problem. Some of the people who were most eager to learn to teach on the Internet were older members of the faculty and some of the most resistant have been some of the younger members of the faculty. 

    These problems will probably be solved over time as teaching Internet courses is made a requirement of employment, but in the early 2000s this is still a significant barrier to the development of online course offerings in many schools. 

5:Lack of Face to Face Interaction

    Some teachers continue to be extremely concerned about the possible loss of learning of certain types of content due to the loss of face-to-face class discussions. Personally, we do not give this argument much credence. The evidence to date shows that learning for Internet courses equals and sometimes even exceeds learning in the traditional classroom format. 

    However, the political fallout from the argument about the credibility of online courses is a great disadvantage at this time. Many members of university faculties are extremely skeptical of using the Internet to offer courses. They refuse to prepare their courses for the online format and policy against their departments and universities moving in this direction. 

    We suspect much of this resistance is caused more by a personal fear of having to change their teaching approach than by an honest consideration of evidence of learning in Internet courses. The many concerns about lower learning for students in online courses have not been validated, and personal experience has shown this author that learning levels in both modalities are highly dependent upon student commitment to learning. 

    In fact, some people who are very popular classroom teachers may not be able to adapt to the new format. Some experts can, with very little preparation time, simply enter the classroom and give a fine lecture. This approach is not appropriate for the Internet. Thus, for at least some faculty, Internet courses will require much more work than traditional classroom courses. 

6:Lack of Proper Infrastructure

    This modality is still so new that the infrastructure to support Web-based courses is still inadequate in many colleges. A good Internet education program requires the school to hire or dedicate media resources people to support the software and infrastructure. 

    Even with this support, teachers may have to spend a great deal of time at the beginning of the semester helping their students get registered with the university and enrolled in the course, obtaining course passwords, and making sure that students are able to work with the technology used in the course. In a traditional course, the admissions office, the registrar's office, the book-store, and sometimes lab assistants handle these kinds of things. 

    Typically, online course faculty are not paid more for this extra work and are not given higher workload credit for teaching an online course. Thus, this work may not be counted in the teacher's workload. This means, of course, that the teacher donates all that work. This is a disadvantage because it will increase teacher resistance to teaching online courses. 

    Worse, the teachers may simply not do the work and drop out rates may then dream. Because the higher education environment in many schools now requires that teachers also be recruiters for their programs, student support in getting started in an online course becomes a big part of the success of the program particularly for the continuing education program, but also for the distance degree programs. 

    The job is not done once the student is enrolled! The student is most likely to be lost during the first week of class and that is when the teacher needs to be most available to phone and e-mail students to provide any extra help they need getting into the course and getting started with their course work . Then, throughout the course, the teacher should be vigilant about continued participation of students. 

    If a particular student's participation begins to lag, the teacher needs to first e-mail and then phone that student to encourage continued participation in the course. With this approach, we have achieved a completion rate of approximately 90% over the past 5 years in our online continuing education program. 

    Without this vigilance, we would have lost a significant number of these students along the way; teacher am quite sure we would have attrition rates in the usual range of 30% to 40% rather than in the 10% range. Unfortunately, this requires extra work from the teacher and to their knowledge no schools award extra workload credit to higher education teachers for these efforts. 

    Perhaps few are actually faculty doing this kind of student monitoring and support work; Perhaps that is the reason so many schools are reporting such high attrition rates.

7:Copy right Privacy and Plagiarism Issue

    The issues of copyright, privacy, security, plagiarism, and authentication of student work constitute special problems for Internet courses. On-campus courses have library reserve desks where a teacher can place a copy of a journal article, book, or other material that he or she wishes to share with students. 

    Copyright laws forbid the teacher, bookstore, and copy center to make copies for all the students unless permission is obtained from the publisher of the material, and sometimes a royalty must be paid to the copyright owner. 

    Of course, in the library, each student can make a personal copy, so the effect is the same as if the teacher or bookstore were making copies. In a web-based course this approach does not work. The professor or university must make contact with the owner of the copyright and either buy reprints or pay a royalty for uploading a copy for all the students to use or download or copy as they see fit. 

    With reprints, the students buy the reprints with their course package (that includes texts and other materials purchased through the bookstore).Faculty always have to be concerned that students may submit purchased term papers and other students' work as their own. There are public sites on the Web that sell papers for this very purpose. This is a serious problem in America. 

    One of the reasons our educational system is so well respected and that our students are marketable all over the world is the rigor of our coursework. If students begin to pass with high degrees without doing the necessary work to earn the degree, a college degree from an American university will soon become less valuable. All parts of the system must guard against cheating and high inflation. 

    Employers hire graduates with the understanding that the college degree is backed by a considerable knowledge base and certain writing, critical thinking, and analytical skills. Unfortunately, web courses do not offer any better protections against dishonesty than do classroom courses. In fact, for exams, the Web-based courses do have one disadvantage: closed-book exams are much more difficult to achieve. 

    Also, it can be difficult to prevent several students from getting together and taking the exams together. In a traditional classroom, the teacher knows who the students are; In very large exam rooms, sometimes students must present their picture ID, which is checked against the class list.

    There are some ways to help ensure an honest exam. In the past, we have had students identify a teacher, department chair, or other school official in a community college or university near the student's home to proctor the exam. The student had to contract with the proctor and provide us with the proctor's name, title, address, and telephone number 30 days in advance of the exam. 

    We verified the identity of the proctor by calling the school and checking on his or her credentials and then calling the proctor to discuss a mutually agreeable exam process. We then faxed the exam to the proctor the day before the exam, and the proctor faxed the completed exam back to the course instructor immediately after the exam was completed. 

    There are companies such as the American College Testing Corporation (ACT) that will provide a computer and proctor for exams for a fee. Of course, these preparations are extra work, but these examples show that there are ways to accomplish proctored examinations for Web-based courses.

    Another method that has worked well is the use of integrative essay exams. We develop exam questions that require the student to integrate and analyze course information. These are open book, open-notes exams, and we allow several days for completion. 

    Several of our students have commented that the exams took 6 to 8 hours to complete. However, they also said they learned a huge amount from the exams because the questions helped them think through the meaning of the content in the text and class notes.

8:Role of Educator to Assists Students 

    The teacher needs to be intimately involved with assisting first time students to get started successfully and to work to keep students from dropping out of the classes. This is especially true of continuing education courses, but is also true with degree-seeking students. 

    In their courses, teacher check every day the first week the course is available. If a student hasn't signed in and put up his or her introduction by the third or fourth day, I'm concerned. teacher will e-mail that student via their home e-mail address or phone the student to find out if there is an access problem teacher  can help with. 

    Occasionally teacher  discovered the student was having a problem getting into the course, or couldn't make some aspect of the technology work, or perhaps was just confused about the start date. Had teacher  not contacted the student, the problem might have led to the student's dropping out due to falling too far behind at the start of the semester. Only the teacher knows if the student is active in the course, so only the teacher can perform this student retention marketing activity. 

This is a fairly new role for most higher education faculty, and some don't feel it is a suitable role for them. Although it is understandable that faculty might resist taking on this kind of back-end marketing activity in an already full faculty workload, it is essential to the success of many online educational programs.

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