Virtual Learning Environment Enhances Informatics Curricula

TIGER (Technology Informatics Guiding Education Reform) Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) pilot partner, the University of Great Falls of Montana (sponsored by Providence Health & Services), uses  this education portal as an important tool to supplement the curriculum of its new Applied Health Informatics (AHI) Certificate Program to ensure students learn with content that is current, relevant and pertinent.

Ruth Schleyer, MSN, RN-BC, senior program manager, informatics education, Providence Health & Services, led the AHI’s development work and launched the pilot cohort in October 2015.  Program application is open to all health system employees. The certificate supports the health system’s philosophy of “recognizing every healthcare professional needs a set of informatics competencies,” said  Schleyer. “Upon successful completion, students have earned 12 bachelor’s level academic credits and receive a certificate of completion from UGF.”

Powered by HIMSS, the TIGER VLE is a one-stop, online health IT education portal for academic professionals, students, adult learners and clinical educators. The VLE contains resources reflective of core international competencies designed to take you from A to Z in health IT. As a personalized learning experience, the VLE can expand your informatics skillset and knowledge on important health IT subjects.

The VLE:

  • Integrates health IT modules and resources into your curriculum;
  • Highlights the work of open source collaborators, so individuals and organizations can easily access  health IT information and resources to find viable content;
  • Provides a low-cost, online health IT learning solution to expand skillset and knowledge base on important health IT and informatics topics; and

Offers ongoing access to resources/materials within the environment or by download of materials  - anytime - with  internet connectivity.

Access to the VLE:  A one-year, unlimited access $40 subscription to the VLE includes the webinar series and archived materials. In addition, purchase of 10 or more subscriptions qualifies for a discount. 

VLE across the healthcare system enterprise:  Administered in an online format, the AHI Certificate Program provides access to employees across Providence St. Joseph Health, which now spans seven states with nearly 110,000 employees.

Schleyer opted for the TIGER VLE, because she found the VLE content immediately “usable” and “current” in the ever-changing world of informatics. Compared to other educational options, the VLE modules offered “content  well- written, and perhaps more importantly, organized from a learner perspective.”

Benefits of VLE for faculty and students: Faculty and student feedback has largely been positive. Anna Jackson, R.N., BSN, short stay assistant nurse manager for Providence St. Joseph Medical Center, and a student in the initial cohort, found the TIGER VLE to be “very informative, easy to read and understand, and full of good explanations” with “interactive modules” providing greater retention of the material, which enhanced the students’ learning. Originally envisioned to supplement each course’s textbook, Schleyer noted instructors (and students) relying more on the VLE content.

Schleyer and her faculty consider this approach as an iterative process; they continue to evaluate and add VLE material to the curricula. In their third cohort of students, the ability to use high-quality, relevant and timely content is extremely valuable to the AHI Certificate Program success and to the education of the students.

Thank you to Ruth Schleyer and Anna Jackson for their contribution to the development of this article.

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TIGER; professional education; health IT