1. Oermann, Marilyn H. PhD, RN, ANEF, FAAN

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Nurse educators' use of technology in teaching continues to expand at a dizzying pace. It is hard to imagine planning a course or class without thinking about technology that might be used to engage students in learning and meet other instructional goals. The most recent Horizon Report1 indicates that a shift is taking place across higher education in which students are learning by creating rather than consuming content delivered by the teacher. In more and more nursing programs, students work in groups solving problems, analyzing cases, and discussing higher-level questions about nursing. They create Web sites, podcasts, videos, and other multimedia. Students are learning together and from each other and developing products of their learning. Price and colleagues2 described how they used digital storytelling as a means for students to create and share their stories about palliative care concepts, leading to a deep understanding of the concepts.


Technology also exposes students to clinical scenarios they would not encounter in their practice and helps to bridge the gap between theory and practice. With technology, we can add reality to a scenario and make traditional case studies more realistic. Shellenbarger and Robb3 described how faculty can integrate technology in a case history, for example, by adding podcasts, hyperlinks, video clips, and images, to provide the context for the case, engage students in meaningful learning, and develop their clinical reasoning skills.


In writing this editorial, I searched through some of the articles Nurse Educator has published over the last 40 years related to technology in teaching. They include learning management systems, Web conferencing, cloud computing, podcasts, vodcasts, virtual worlds, gaming, simulation, mobile technologies, and many others. We have published hundreds of articles on simulation, which document the growth of simulation in nursing education. In 1990, there was a news item in Nurse Educator that presented a simulation game called Terminex in which health providers played each other's roles.4 Compare that to the use of a multiplayer, virtual simulation for nursing students to develop their leadership skills,5 and to Amster and colleagues' study on using an eye-tracking device for determining errors of nursing students in simulation.6


Teaching with technology, however, is not about the latest tools but involves the decisions of nurse educators about when and how to use those tools. Those decisions should be based on the outcomes to be achieved, not because a technology is new and exciting. The main consideration in selecting a technology tool is whether it will facilitate learning and is consistent with the goals of the course. This has been a message in articles in Nurse Educator for 40 years. I found an article we published in 1979 that provided tips to faculty on how to develop and use overhead transparencies.7 The article presented 9 steps in creating transparencies to meet learning objectives, which was the most important consideration then and still is now.


Similar to technology, nurse educators' use of innovative methods of teaching that engage students as active learners continues at a rapid pace. Although nursing students in many settings still prefer being passive learners, many faculty are forging ahead with teaching approaches that provide for active learning and in which students work in teams, preparing them for their future practice. The 2014 Horizon Report1 identified the flipped classroom as a technology expected to enter mainstream use. We are already there in nursing education. Schlairet et al8 described how they "flipped" their Fundamental Concepts of Nursing course for students, and Ratta9 not only used a flipped classroom, but she also integrated that with team-based learning.


Use of technology and teaching methods that promote active learning has been a theme in nursing education for years. In 1997, Cravener10 outlined strategies educators could use to promote active learning in large lecture classes. These included small-group learning activities, analyses of cases, problem-solving activities, and assignments in which students wrote about their feelings, among others-sound familiar?


It is not realistic to expect all nurse educators to seek out and adopt new technologies and teaching innovations. Every faculty needs a few creative nurse educators who take the lead and are early adopters. They can serve as role models for the rest of the faculty. All nurse educators, however, can use teaching methods that engage learners and encourage them to create their own learning rather than consume content from the teacher. In all of our courses, students can work on problems and questions that have not been fully answered, link theory to practice, collaborate with and learn from peers, and take an active role in what and how they learn. We can all do that.




1. Johnson L, Adams Becker S, Estrada V, Freeman A. NMC Horizon Report: 2014 Higher Education Edition. Austin, TX: The New Media Consortium; 2014. [Context Link]


2. Price DM, Strodtman L, Brough E, Lonn S, Luo A. Digital storytelling: an innovative technological approach to nursing education [published online ahead of print October 4, 2014]. Nurse Educ. 2014. [Context Link]


3. Shellenbarger T, Robb M. Technology-based strategies for promoting clinical reasoning skills in nursing education [published online ahead of print November 14, 2014]. Nurse Educ. 2014. [Context Link]


4. Smoyak S. Simulation-a view from the other side. Nurse Educ. 1980; 5( 6): 31. [Context Link]


5. Foronda C, Budhathoki C, Salani D. Use of multiuser, high-fidelity virtual simulation to teach leadership styles to nursing students. Nurse Educ. 2014; 39( 5): 209-211. [Context Link]


6. Amster B, Marquard J, Henneman E, Fisher D. Using an eye tracker during medication administration to identify gaps in nursing students' contextual knowledge: an observational study [published online ahead of print October 6, 2014]. Nurse Educ. 2014. [Context Link]


7. Bauman K, Kunka AK. Overhead transparencies: the overlook medium. Nurse Educ. 1979; 4( 4): 21-25. [Context Link]


8. Schlairet MC, Green R, Benton MJ. The flipped classroom: strategies for an undergraduate nursing course. Nurse Educ. 2014; 39( 6): 321-325. [Context Link]


9. Ratta CB. Flipping the classroom with team-based learning in undergraduate nursing education [published online ahead of print November 14, 2014]. Nurse Educ. 2014. [Context Link]


10. Cravener PA. Promoting active learning in large lecture classes. Nurse Educ. 1997; 22( 3): 21-26. [Context Link]