Author Archives: mseidling

Can real-world problem based learning be incorporated into the online classroom?

Kane, M.  (2003).  Linking the real world to the classroom.  GLENCOE Online:  Teaching Today.

Lombardi, M. M.  (2007).  Authentic learning for the 21st century:  An overview.  EDUCAUSE Learning

InitiativeAdvancing learning through IT innovation.

Lombardi argues that “higher education has focused for too long on inculcating and assessing those cognitive skills that are relatively easy to acquire-remembering, understanding, and applying-rather than the arguably more important skills of analyzing, evaluating, and creating” (p. 8).  Much to our dismay, though, students fight this learning environment.  This should come as no surprise, though, as they have been programs by multiple choice exams and, and right and wrong answers, to seek the “right” answer and to lack an understanding of multiple avenues to different results for problem solving (Lombardi, 2007).  But, as noted by Lombardi (2007), in order “to be competitive in a global job market, today’s students must become comfortable with the complexities of ill-defines real-world problems” (p. 10).  If critical thinking skills are essential skills for our students, as educators we must model these skills for our students.  This can be done by incorporating your own practical experience into the classroom and by illustrating different modes of thinking and reasoning in the problem solving process (Kane, 2003).  Kane (2003) suggests gaining a better understanding of why students are there and what their background is in order to better serve them and to better understand what they are looking to take from the class.  This allows you as the instructor to better focus your instruction (Kane, 2003). 

As noted by Lombardi (2007), it is well documented and well understood that learning by doing is most effective.  As noted by Kane (2003), “I believe you understand it when you do it”.  Furthermore, “when the class ends, students should be able to do more than just pass the final test.  They should have gained knowledge in the subject, and they should see how that subject fits into the bigger picture”.  For years this method has been utilized in the traditional face to face classroom setting, and many would question how this form of learning could be transferred to the online classroom.  As noted by Lombardi (2007), by utilizing the online tools available to educators and engaging students in real-world issues of concern to them, educators can awaken authentic learning in their students.  Lombardi (2007) provides a comprehensive review of the latest technological advancements that make learning by doing in the online classroom a reality.  Researchers have found that authentic learning experiences contain the follow design elements:  “real-world relevance, an ill-defined problem, sustained investigation, multiple sources and perspectives, collaboration, reflection, interdisciplinary perspective, integrated assessment, polished products, and multiple interpretation and outcomes” (Lombardi, 2007, p. 3).  As colleges and universities are working to incorporate authentic learning into their classrooms, they are utilizing online tools to bring these learning opportunities to distance learners as well.  As noted by Lombardi (2007), “the value of authentic activity is not constrained to learning in real-life locations and practice, but that the benefits of authentic activity can be realized through careful design of web-based learning environments” (p. 6).  This has been done through the use of simulation-based learning, students-created media, inquiry-based learning, peer-based evaluation, working with remote instruments, working with shared research data, and the utilization of e-portfolios to document and reflect on achievements (Lombardi, 2007). 


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Summary of “Enhanced Nursing Autonomy Through Participatory Action Research”

The article looked to present information regarding how a group of nurses on a mental health/psychiatric unit at a small, rural hospital took steps to better their knowledge base and increase their functional autonomy through the use of action research.  The authors felt that within an occupation, members have obtained autonomy when they “govern and control their own activities” (p. 76).  Unless this has been achieved, they do not see the members as being autonomous and as lacking in power.  A group of staff nurses and supervisory nurses initially set out to form a group to educate themselves, as they felt continuing education was lacking at their current facility.  With their increased knowledge base and their sharing of knowledge and strategies they found their practice was changing.  Rather than sitting back and following orders from physicians and social workers they found they were contributing more to the plan of care and initiating more treatment on their own with their patients.  Through their session together they shared strategies for what was working and everyone’s practice flourished. 

The participants were able to take their knowledge one step further by leading a hospital-wide education program for fellow nurses.  As noted in the article, participants at this education program “liked the positive and relaxed sharing of ideas and knowledge on a peer-to-peer basis; they found that learning from their peer colleagues was both reaffirming and energizing” (p. 79). 

The nurses involved in the initial action research group felt they walked away with three main things.  They gained ownership over their practice and an increased sense of dignity and leadership.  They “came to a new understanding of the art of nursing and found ourselves more willing to go out on a limb and to use intuition and creativity in our practice” (p. 79).  They found that with their increased knowledge base and sharing of information they were focused more on the whole person with their clients, and particularly focused on wellness and healing.  Finally, they began to see their clients as partners and “knowing subjects rather than as an object of nursing care” (p. 80). 

As with all changes in practice, their change did not come without resistance from fellow nurses.  Some nurses within their unit and within the hospital were very resistant to a new found sense of autonomy.  It would seem there is comfort in simply following orders and trusting that those above you know best.

It was interesting to see how an increase in knowledge led to an increased sense of autonomy, and how much the nurses were able to learn from one another simply from sitting down and discussing issues once a week.  How could you see the educational landscape change if teachers sat down or had a web 2.0 discussion board going to discuss what is working and what isn’t?  Could we move beyond local or even regional discussions to share our ideas?  Finally, why don’t we sit down with our students and work through issues.  Much as the nurses learned to work with and learn from their patients, teachers can be learning so much from our students as far as how to change and improve our practice, but we are missing the boat. 

Breda, K. L., Anderson, M. A., Hanses, L., Hayes, D., Pillion, C., Lyon, P.  (1997).  Enhancing nursing

autonomy through participatory action research.  Nursing Outlook, 45(2), 76-81.

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24/7 access to web-videos and power point lectures

Chuang, Y., Cheng, H., Yang, Y., Fang, M., & Chen Y.  (2010).  The Effects of a Web-Based

Supplementary Program for Facilitating Nursing Students’ Basic Nursing Skills.  CIN:

Computers, Information, Nursing, 28(5), 305-310.

            In their article, the authors emphasized the importance of watching demonstrated skills in enhancing the learning process.  In the typical format to teach nursing skills, a combination of lecture and lab are used, which involves demonstration of skills with immediate feedback.  The authors felt that current studies comparing traditional and web-based learning does not provide consistent results and often rely on written exams, as opposed to skill performance, to test the acquisition of knowledge.  The authors also felt that research was lacking in the area of e-learning as a supplement as opposed to a complete replacement for traditional learning.  A quasi-experimental design with two groups and a post-test was used to assess the knowledge acquisition of students in a traditional learning environment versus a traditional learning environment with a web-based supplement.  Students in the experimental group had 24/7 access to a web program demonstrating nine basic nursing skills, while the control group had no access to this program.  Four weeks after completion of the course work, all students were assessed by four examiners on their performance of aseptic technique.  The intervention was determined to have a medium effect with the experimental group scoring 81.47 on the assessment versus a score of 76.58 by the control group.  The authors found no relationship between frequency of log in to the program and scores on the post-test.  The experimental group showed above average satisfaction with the program.    The authors recommend using web-based programs to enhance nursing students’ acquisition of basic nursing skills as it allows students to acquire and reinforce nursing skills at their own pace and schedule.

            The article provides an interesting view in that most articles on this topic investigate traditional versus web-based, as opposed to a web-enhanced format.  The sample size was of a larger size (161 participants) than many studies related to this topic, which aids in the generalizability of the findings.  As the authors noted, a randomized controlled trial design would be beneficial in increasing the generalizability of future studies.  I would have liked to see fewer clinicians performing the skills assessment, as this can hinder the reliability of the results. 

I could see using videos and web-based power point persentations that students can view at home and use for studying as very useful.  Does anyone currently do this?  Do you think students would still take notes and be attentive in class if they know they can access the information later outside of class?

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Can skills be taught in an online setting?

Attack, L. & Luke, R.  (2008).  Impact of an Online Course on Infection Control and Prevention

Competencies.  Journal of Advanced Nursing, 63(2), 175-180.

The authors of this article looked to examine the impact of an online course on health professionals’ infection prevention and control competency.  A convenience sample of 76 participants from three large hospitals and one community hospital in Canada was used.  46% of the participants were Registered Nurses.  The study utilized three online self-study infection control modules with a pre-test and post-test for each module.  The modules included text, photos, graphics, and videos.  The pre-test mean was 64% and the post-test mean was 77%.  90.5% of the participants responded that they were satisfied with the course, with 27% identifying the video portion as being important to their learning.  Sources of dissatisfaction were:  insufficient feedback with quizzes and no opportunity to ask questions.  The increase in scores and the satisfaction with the course led the authors to feel that their study supports the claims that online learning can deliver quality while also being convenient.

This article was informative in providing knowledge as to what learners like to see in online courses, and areas in which courses could be improved.  The areas for improvement within the study would be the lack of direct observation of the participant’s practice of infection control and prevention, as well as the lack of an experimental design, though the pre-test/post-test design does help to validate the acquisition of knowledge through the use of the online program.  With my new knowledge about all the technology out there than allows instructors to have greater interaction with students even during quizes, it would be interesting to see how things improved if there was more professor presence and intereaction. 


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