With an increasing number of mature professionals returning to school to uplevel their education and credentials, online learning is one of the fastest-growing trends in nursing education. For most schools, online learning is now delivered via a learning management system (LMS).
Traditionally, nursing education has taken place in a classroom or clinical setting, reliant on physical demonstrations and good old-fashioned note-taking using pen and paper. Now, instead of attending class in person, students complete coursework online and communicate and collaborate via the platform. Let’s explore some of the benefits and efficiencies an LMS offers to healthcare undergrads, working professionals and faculty.
There are now online nursing programs for every level of degree, from associate to doctoral. Bachelor’s degrees remain the most popular, as they represent the most in-demand level of education for most nursing positions, and many online nursing programs are specifically oriented toward registered nurses (RNs) who are seeking to advance their education by completing a bachelor’s or master’s degree.
An online nursing degree contains clinical components, which students usually complete by working with local hospitals or other medical providers. For RNs who are currently employed, this might even include hours worked in their normal position.
For healthcare students, online learning offers additional advantages. Students are able to flexibly access learning on their timetable, work around shifts and learn from any location — at home, at a coffee shop or even on the bus on the way to work. Online programs that offer competency-based learning models allow students to capitalize on their existing knowledge and experience to demonstrate mastery of skills. This can accelerate individuals’ progress through a degree program, so they graduate faster, pay fewer tuition costs and, if on an employment hiatus, get back into the workforce more quickly.
See how MGH Institute of Health Professionals has doubled its student reach using Brightspace for online learning.
Working healthcare professionals are required to stay on top of the latest in clinical advancements and changing policies and procedures. In the past, this has typically meant pulling staff away from the bedside and into the classroom for their professional education. This traditional training approach has a number of disadvantages. First, it adds to the already challenging staff shortage faced by the industry. Second, outside of testing at the end of an in-service, there’s no real way to ensure professionals will retain the knowledge imparted in the in-service training. And third, there’s no effective way to accurately identify skill and knowledge gaps at the individual or broader staff level. Online learning via an LMS delivers continuing education content quickly and efficiently, allowing hospital training officials to administer, track and create reports based on training courses or events. In addition to facilitating the continuing education of staff, an LMS can also be used to onboard new nurses, offering hospitals a window into the skills, abilities and knowledge they have attained while providing working nurses with the ability to learn flexibility and at any time of day.
See how Epworth Healthcare is using Brightspace to keep staff engaged and compliant.
Faculty and staff
While live instruction and the clinical practicum are still big parts of a healthcare professional’s training, online instruction offers significant efficiencies for faculty and staff. Time typically spent in front of a classroom can now be directed toward planning, motivating students and staff, and curriculum development. Content is presented in a consistent, uniform manner, and LMS analytics allow faculty and staff to assess learning, step in with assistance when a learner is struggling, and identify and track skill gaps.
Because online platforms offer more and richer content than standard textbooks do, your staff has the ability to pick and choose additional resources that enhance and confirm a learner’s understanding of the subject material. Rich media content can include (but is not limited to) video, polls, quizzes, discussion forums and interactions with virtual patients, creating a better and more engaging learning experience for all.
See how faculty at Vanderbilt School of Nursing navigate Brightspace.