Building a Technology Toolkit: Application of Technology in a Graduate Nursing Program

Monday, 30 October 2017: 1:15 PM

Kirsty Digger, DNS
Cheryle G. Levitt, PhD
School of Nursing, State University of New York, Delhi College of Technology, Delhi, NY, USA

Background: Nurses, across all levels of practice and settings, must be skilled in the use of technology. Due to the ubiquitous nature of technology in healthcare, nursing educators must integrate technology into content and practice in order to foster development of contemporary practitioners (Mackay, Anderson, & Harding, 2017). Professional nursing organizations across the United States have called for integration of technology into nursing curricula (Benner, Stuphen, Leonard, & Day, 2010; QSEN, 2014).

Although educators have begun to consider the best way to integrate technology into nursing education (Mackay, Anderson, & Harding, 2017), many current nursing faculty completed graduate programs with little or no exposure to technology-based pedagogies. This lack of knowledge and experience is then reflected in nursing curricula, where limited technology integration perpetuates the cycle of insufficient preparation in digital fluency and pedagogy. Thus, while technology can enhance both learning and nursing practice, in order for technology integration to be successful, there must be an increased focus on faculty development and adequate technology support for curricular advancement in this area (Mackay et al., 2017; Webb, Clough, O’Reilly, Wilmott, & Witham, 2017).

Technology integration into curricula at all levels is welcomed by contemporary students, who are comfortable with technology used in the classroom. A large-scale study (n=71,641) found that undergraduate students in higher education believe technology devices are valuable tools for academic success (Brooks, 2016). Students expect technology-infused education and indeed, feel that delivery of content using technology is as important as the content itself (Dahlstrom & Bichsel, 2014; FTI Consulting, 2015).

An online master’s curriculum in nursing education was recently developed applying evidence that highlighted the need for technology integration into nursing curricula. A decision was made to integrate educational technology into every course. The faculty designed content and assignments that integrated educational technology tools that would enhance learner engagement, provide opportunities for creativity and interactivity, and increase student comfort with technology in learning. A collection of educational technologies was created that consists of tools that are free, simple to learn, and easy to use; this "tool-box" is easily adaptable to multiple courses throughout the curriculum. The goal of implementing these tools was to help graduate students learn supported by various strategies, and also to demonstrate effective technogogy, or technology-based pedagogy. The intent was for the students to learn how to choose the right tool, for the right content, for the right audience, and for the right setting.

For each tool practice exercises were integrated into the first week of courses, and provided preparation for application in course assignments in order to improve comfort and successful achievement. In the early courses one tool was used in each course, but as students progressed through the curriculum, they were provided with choices of technology tools to use in assignments. The outcome was that students created assignments that integrated multiple technology tools into their projects, resulting in highly creative products, and demonstrated autonomy in learning. Evidence from student evaluations reflects high student satisfaction with the use of technology, the impact of technology upon their learning, and increased comfort with application of the tools.

Purpose: The purpose of this presentation is to describe the collective approach by faculty towards significant educational technology integration into an innovative graduate nursing education curriculum. Examples of specific educational technologies and how they are applied to a variety of learning assignments will be shared.