1. Perry, William MA, RN

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The Internet has brought the spirit of global communication and collaboration to nurses and other healthcare professionals in ways never before thought possible. These resources are offered to expand your opportunities for discussion, reference, education, and research.


A newsletter I subscribe to called today's students "Digital Natives." Having grown up with computers, PDAs, cell phones, MP3 players, and video games they view and use these devices as a normal part of everyday life. These students expect approaches that engage, promote interaction, and illustrate principles in a way different from the printed page. Those of us who provide online education, whether in the academic arena or the workplace, are "Digital Immigrants." As adults with far different educational experiences, we discovered, learned, and tried to introduce and champion these evolving technologies in a variety of applications and scenarios. Although many educators may be experts in the conception and creation of online content, our students perceive and interact with the electronic world as a normal part of their experience.


Marc Prensky, an educator and game creator, coined these terms. His Web site, Games2Train ( is a commercial site with an amazing variety of examples of game-based learning in academic, corporate, and government environments. I find his personal Web site ( much more fascinating. Under the "writings" section are dozens of articles describing today's student learning characteristics, gaming as a learning tool, and interactive technology. Two must-read articles are "Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants" and "Do They Really Think Differently?" I highly recommend this site for anyone developing online educational material.


I am fascinated by the degree of involvement people have with online games, whether Tic-Tac-Toe, Tetris, or Doom. Players spend hours upon hours getting to higher levels, learning complex codes, and defining character attributes. Prensky has a page titled "Tools for [Learning] Games" at that I have just begun to investigate. There are many sources on the Internet of free, relatively simple games that could be incorporated into academic or clinical settings to provide an alternative approach to learning. I stress these could be alternatives rather than replacements. Given the wide age range in the nursing workforce and the variety of learning styles one approach cannot satisfy the learning needs of all potentials users.


Many games are written in Javascript, which can be relatively simple to modify to suit a particular learning objective. Search through the scripts at, or for potentially useful games. Hotscripts ( has scores of games in several scripting languages. Many of these of free, some are shareware, and some are commercial games.


I must mention a word of warning about visiting game sites, and especially about downloading games that are packaged as executable files that you install on your computer. Many game sites are infested with spyware, malware, or even viruses. Make sure you scan them with reliable security tools.


Jeopardy style games using PowerPoint or an Open Source application such as Impress from Open Office ( provide an interactive tool for either classroom or individual use. James Madison University has a page with templates and instructions to create your own game at


I've written about Webquests before but I think they deserve mention here because they can combine teamwork, searching techniques, and critical and analytical thinking. The WebQuest Page ( and Ozline ( are always worth visiting. The key elements are requiring the student to interact with digital resources and create something new.


I'm going to be looking very closely at these resources for both the classroom and staff development areas. I might even have some fun (but don't tell anyone I'm playing games at work!!).


Contributed by


William Perry, MA, RN