Rounds with Leadership - Harnessing the Power of Technology

Published October 26, 2016

Welcome to Rounds with Leadership, a new forum for AACN’s Board Chair and President/CEO to offer commentary on issues and trends impacting academic nursing.

Learning today has become more personalized and data driven. Consumers increasingly are using apps and websites to inform their healthcare decision-making, and students are comfortable using a variety of devices to access information and engage in online dialogues (e.g., mobile phones, apps, simulation). With consumers and students alike moving to adapt their learning styles, are we adequately preparing faculty to leverage educational technology?

Though AACN’s recent Thought Leaders Assembly focused on what lies ahead for higher education, the discussion also focused on how technology is changing the educational landscape. The speakers, deans, and opinion leaders present considered new ways to deliver education, the rise of start-ups promising to revolutionize teaching and research, and new questions about the role of technology in and outside the classroom. Amidst the energizing conversation, it became clear that some old concerns linger. 

Technology is evolving rapidly, and faculty want development opportunities to utilize the latest innovations to enhance student learning, improve clinical practice, and grow research.  Technological advancements require financial investments in institutional infrastructure. Questions remain about the outcomes of online education compared to face-to-face instruction, and faculty are split on whether investments in ed-tech have improved student outcomes.

Within this climate, it is gratifying to see that faculty members are in fact successfully creating new opportunities with technology, according to findings from the 2016 Inside Higher Ed Survey of Faculty Attitudes on Technology. Through experimentation with online education, for example, faculty members are able to serve a more diverse set of students and think more critically about how to engage students with course content. With free and open course materials, academic institutions are effectively increasing access to education. 

At the local level, nursing schools are faced with many challenges when it comes to optimizing the latest educational technology, including the high cost to acquire new systems and varying levels of comfort among current students and faculty for technology enhanced learning. Addressing these issues in creative ways must be a priority if we are to meet the expectations of tomorrow’s learner. To that end, AACN is committed to focusing our faculty programming on using educational technology and advancing fresh approaches to interprofessional engagement. We are exploring new models of data gathering and content curation to better meet the information needs of faculty and students. Through our webinars and conference programming, we will continue to illustrate the impact and efficacy of using educational technology to better prepare the nursing workforce of the future.