By Mattias Georgsson RN, PhD
Georgsson, M. (Summer, 2019). Uses and advantages of eLearning and distance pedagogy in nursing informatics education. Online Journal of Nursing Informatics (OJNI), 23(2). Available at http://www.himss.org/ojni
eLearning, digital learning and pedagogic practices by distance have several important advantages. According to Tait (2014) some of the benefits with eLearning and distance learning include it has become more and more common and acceptable, this type of learning is adaptable and particularly benefits students who are older or those that need to fit in their learning into busy lives with both work and family requirements. With digital learning or eLearning, the student can follow lectures whenever it is most convenient (Tait, 2014). Other advantages include that it is a flexible type of learning that can create and foster social, meaningful interactions with others where knowledge continuously grows. Distance education also allows for, a so-called borderless learning experience, and mobility for students which adds an important dimension (Jaldemark, 2013; Tait, 2014). Tait (2014) described the many advantages that distance technology provides to support teaching in different ways; both when it comes to teacher to student and student to student interaction and learning. These, for example, include the use of video in the course materials, the usage of computer-based conferencing and presentation possibilities that include both voice-based and visual dimensions, lab-based work that can be seen or performed online, the usage of blogs and podcasts, and so on.
Of course, distance education also has its challenges: a main one is how to create an interactive context or a context of learning with suitable teacher and student presence, and higher levels of learning for the students (Keller and Hrastinski, 2009). One way that has been suggested to make the learning process more interactive, is to apply pedagogical practices that are centered on constructivist learning, or the ability to learn based on one’s own experience which can for example be done by creating virtual learning communities (Keller and Hrastinski, 2009). Another method that can be applied when teaching by distance is the flipped classroom (Rutherford & Rutherford, 2013). This type of pedagogical practice requires that students take part of the recorded lectures on their own and prepare for class and then scheduled class time is spent on interacting with the other students and teacher to increase and deepen their level of learning. This makes it possible to individualize and adapt the learning to the individual student and their experience (Rutherford & Rutherford, 2013). Blogs can also lead to a higher level of learning by allowing the students to write their own entries related to the literature or their learning experiences in the course, and reflect on other students’ blogs and comments (Olofsson, Lindberg & Hauge, 2011).
Distance pedagogy in a nursing informatics educational context can have a particularly important use due to its ability to be adaptable and flexible according to the nurses’ schedule; making it possible for her or him to combine their informatics studies with a busy clinical career. Nurses may appreciate pedagogic practices where they can take part of the lecture online and then combine the knowledge gained with their clinical experience to enhance their learning. Interactive activities with a teacher and other students can enhance their learning experience and contribute to the achievement of higher learning.
Mattias Georgsson, PhD, MSc, MPH, RN has a Master of Science degree in Nursing and Master degrees in Health Informatics and Interaction Design. He completed his PhD in Applied Health Technology in the Spring of 2018. He currently holds a position as a Post Doctoral Research Fellow in eHealth at University West, Sweden.
Jaldemark, J. (2013). Om lärandets sammanhang och mobilitetens utmaningar. Pedagogisk Forskning i Sverige, 18, 1-2.
Keller, C. & Hrastinski, S. (2009). Towards digitally literate university teachers. Nordic Journal of Digital Literacy, 4(2), 104-115.
Olofsson, A. D., Lindberg J. O. & Hauge, T. E. (2011). Blogs and the design of reflective peer-to peer technology enhanced learning and formative assessment. Campus-Wide Information Systems, 28(3), 183-194. https://doi.org/10.1108/10650741111145715
Rutherfoord, R. H. & Rutherfoord, J. K. (2013). Flipping the classroom: Is it for you? SIGITE 10, 19-22. https://doi.org/10.1145/2512276.2512299
Tait, A. (2014). From place to virtual place: Reconfiguring student support for distance and elearning in the digital age. Open Praxis, 6(1), 5-16. https://doi.org/10.5944/openpraxis.6.1.102