Using the Tools of Technology to Increase Access to Doctoral Education: Best Practices in Distance Education

Sunday, 8 November 2015: 11:40 AM

Jeffrey A. Willey, PhD, MSN, MEd, RN
Lisa A. Seldomridge, PhD, MSN, BSN, RN
Department of Nursing, Salisbury University, Salisbury, MD, USA

Using the Tools of Technology to Increase Access to Doctoral Education - Best Practices in Distance Education

In response to statewide, regional, and national calls to increase the number of doctoral-prepared nurses by 2020, Salisbury University, a small public university in the mid-Atlantic region, launched its first doctoral program, a post-MS to DNP in Fall 2012 and a post-BS to DNP in Fall 2014. As one of three DNP programs in Maryland and the only DNP in its region, offering the curriculum in a distance-accessible format was essential to its success. While distance education is an increasingly popular option for delivering advanced education to working professionals, the use of technology requires careful consideration and planning.  Although the types of technologies available to faculty are numerous, faculty must make appropriate choices about which strategies to employ with consideration of cost, ease of use, interactivity and student engagement.  It is important to recognize that overuse of technology can be detrimental to student learning as more time is spent learning to use the technologies rather than focusing on learning course material. Among the factors to consider in selecting technologies for distance education are the objectives of the course, faculty and student comfort with technology, the degree of technology support available, budgetary constraints, and adherence to quality standards in distance education, all while attending to the need for human connection. Applying the Quality Matters TM standards for online and blended education (2014), the technologies selected for use in each course demonstrated alignment between the learning objectives, learning materials, course activities, student-teacher and student-student interactions, assessment and evaluation measures, and achievement of learning outcomes. Consequently technology became another tool to facilitate learning that appealed to students with a variety of learning styles, but was not a replacement for the teacher. This presentation describes a multi-disciplinary team approach used to develop and deliver a DNP curriculum in conformity with AACN Essentials for Doctoral Education for Advanced Nursing Practice (2006), and NONPF Standards (2012). Since the start of the doctoral program in 2012, a variety of asynchronous and synchronous strategies have been used including faculty and student video-recording, discussion boards, assignments based on stories using avatars,  web-conferencing, presentations with screen sharing, and voice-over technologies.  Examples of several different approaches as well as the successes and challenges of using a variety of instructional software and technologies will be shared.