2:30-5:00 p.m., April 19, 2005
Mary Gates Commons
This presentation focuses on five years of evolution in use of distance education approaches. We will describe our experiences with two primary distance strategies, including lessons learned. Our students are adult learners -- practicing nurses returning for specialty education in psychiatric-mental health nursing. Motivated to increase graduate school participation by nurses in rural locations, about five years ago the Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner faculty began to video-conference program courses on a part-time 3-year rotation to two sites accessible to Olympic Peninsula nurses. Classes originated from Seattle, and students were in the Seattle classroom or at one of the community colleges. Video-conferencing, with its two-way visual and verbal interaction, seemed a simple extension of teaching we were accustomed to.
However, we encountered a range of new experiences, including minor and major connectivity problems, students at one site who sometimes seemed inattentive and confused about assignments, discussion fluency problems owing to the lag for sound transmission, and Seattle-based students who at times were resentful about the slowed pace. Program evaluation by CIDR staff and program TAs revealed that faculty and students had a variety of perceptions and interpretations. Useful ideas surfaced. The cost of videoconferencing and the inconvenience of weekly travel by dispersed students living far from even a videoconference site led us to use of videostreaming and increased online instructional activities (maintaining some video-conferencing). We again involved CIDR in consultation.
These evaluations and consultations ultimately led to CIDRs development of an on-line guide for faculty titled Planning for Teaching with the Web -- http://depts.washington.edu/cidrweb/PMHNP/. This tutorial teaches ways to maintain elements recognized to contribute to effective education even when face-to-face contacts among students and faculty are reduced. Flexibility in educational strategies is a 21st century mandate; learning to do it well is a process.