1. McNeil, Barbara J. PhD, RN, Reviewer

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THE BASIC PRINCIPLES OF PHARMACOLOGY Educational Global Technologies, Inc. P.O. Box 3188 Oak Brook, IL 60522-3188 Telephone: 888-882-9800 Web: Price: Institutions - $295 plus $10 for shipping and handling for unlimited access period and unlimited number of users; individuals - $25.00 for one user for a 1-year period AACN Continuing Education Units: $20.00 for 2.0 contact hours for a period of 60 days access upon payment, and achieving 70% or higher on combined tests within the tutorial


This Web program is the latest on-line version (2002) of an earlier computer-assisted instructional program developed by Drs. Mary Dreher and Linda Caputi and addresses basic concepts and principles of pharmacology. It is intended for nursing students and other health professionals who are interested in supplementing in-class instruction or reviewing pharmacological content. Practicing nurses may also use this program as a review of basic pharmacology and as a vehicle for obtaining continuing education credit. The program's stated goal is facilitating knowledge of basic pharmacological concepts and principles so that patients will be "free from drug-induced harm."


The authors have been professors of nursing from the College of DuPage and report extensive experience in nursing education and practice. The program, released in 2002, was updated in accordance with user feedback for the previous version, used by nursing education programs for the past 10 years.


As the authors purport, the program contains basic information about pharmacology principles and seems appropriate for undergraduate nursing students interested in supplementing instruction or as a means of reviewing content. Licensed nurses could use this program for continuing education purposes. Learning objectives are included in the paper documentation.


The content is organized into 5 modules that increase in complexity as the student progresses from Module 1:


* Module 1: Introductory Content


* Module 2: Drug Facts


* Module 3: Principles of Drug Action


* Module 4: Responses to Drugs


* Module 5: Test Bank



A list of references used for content development is included in the program and access is gained through the EDGT homepage when previewing this tutorial or through the accompanying paper documentation. References cited are from pharmacology textbooks and drug handbooks from a variety of publishers. About half of the references have been published in the last 3 years and are appropriate for this content.


Users are presented with content that addresses the major concepts essential for an understanding of pharmacology. Practice questions and "thinking questions" are woven throughout to reinforce content and provide interactivity. Such questions address nursing scenarios and are at the application level. Implications for nursing, such as drug concentrations, are addressed and are appropriate.


Minimum Internet access is the stated requirement for using the Web tutorial. I utilized a PC and compared performance with two browsers, Internet Explorer 6.0.26 and Netscape Navigator 6.2.3. I found the latter to be noticeably faster in accessing EDGT's Web site and pages in the tutorial.


Navigation through this tutorial was easy and the logical design, moving from simple to more complex content, is one of its strongest features. Screens appear crisp and clear. Progression from screen to screen occurs via a click of the mouse or use of the back button on the browser. I would have preferred to scroll less when viewing the screens, but this did not interfere with my progression through the modules.


Colorful animation that is both simple and clear is used effectively throughout to demonstrate complex concepts such as drug action and drug responses. I had difficulty reading the explanatory text on the screen and simultaneously watching the animation. Users may need to be advised to review the animation twice to visually grasp the concept.


Each module is designed in a similar manner. After completing a section of each module, there is a color change in the menu making it easy to determine what the user has completed. Once didactic content is presented in a module, the user can choose to branch to practice items. These are application-level multiple-choice or matching type questions that relate to the content. Upon choosing the correct answer, the user receives positive feedback (eg, Great!) and may then choose to select the rationale underlying the correct answer. This was helpful and reinforced important content areas.


An interesting feature within each module is the "Thinking Question" that is designed as an opportunity to immediately apply the information. A question is posed and then the user clicks a button to determine the implications for nursing practice, which is really not actively selecting an answer but rather passively seeing the answer revealed on the screen. It is unclear how this feature builds critical thinking skills.


Module 5 contains the testing function of this tutorial and contains 4 tests. There are 3 test-taking options: for student study and practice; for continuing education; and for the instructor's review of scores. For option 1, students choose 1 of 4 tests for each module; results can be printed; and rationales for answers are provided. For continuing education purposes, the user must register first and enter a PIN and password. Instructors are requested to enter a user name, password, and subscription ID.


The user can easily control the environment when using this tutorial. There is an option for the user to turn on or off a loop of music provided within the tutorial. This was a nice feature but hearing one selection repeated over and over grew tedious. It was easy to turn off the music.


For either individual or institutional use, this tutorial offers much value for the price. Whether used for beginning practical nurse students, registered nurse students, or practicing nurses seeking a review, the program does meet its stated objectives and is designed well. Accessing a tutorial on the Web is convenient for both instructors and users. I would recommend this program as a supplement to basic nursing education.


The EDGT Web site offers free demos for all of its tutorials and provides links to nursing pages containing useful general nursing information and search tools. There is an on-line mechanism to contact technical support if needed. I could not determine the responsiveness of this support. The site is very generous in allowing no-cost demonstrations of its products.


Minimum system requirements: Internet Explorer 5.5+ or Netscape Navigator 4.7; Windows or MAC OS; mouse; monitor (color preferred); printer (optional).