Over the years, the human race has continued to innovate and invent several methods to ensure that knowledge continuously flows from one generation to another. The traditional form of education or the in-class learning dates the origin back to the oral teaching technique; the technique greatly influenced the development of the writing skills like the knowledge needed to be preserved for future references (Mazanec et al., 2019). Consequently, the massive production of written materials resulted in the concept of the in-class education system. However, the rapid advancement in technology and computer systems has much driven the development of a new concept of education, the online education system. The online learning system tends to provide solutions to the significant drawbacks of in-class learning. As a result, the nursing profession has widely benefited from the online learning concept through the integration of numerous E-learning aspects with critical components of the nursing informatics to attain optimum online learning environments for the nursing students.
The Concept of Online Learning in Nursing
Online learning refers to the use of internet-enabled computers to participate in and access online courses or education modules. Undoubtedly, there idea of online learning as an efficient method of attaining professional training is fast gaining momentum (Hampton et al., 2017). Consequently, the popularity and count of online nursing continuing learning programs are rapidly growing. Nonetheless, nursing informatics, a field in nursing that aims at integrating nursing with information sciences, the use of a computer, medical systems, and data to enhance the quality of nursing, has dramatically incorporated the concept of online learning.
The primary rationale for preferring online learning for in nursing profession is anchored on the fact that it is flexible and easily accessible. The fast advancement in both computer and internet technologies have created a conducive environment for the online learning system to thrive (Richter & Schuessler, 2019). Moreover, several research investigations have supported the claim that the online learning system is significantly convenient and effective than the in-class learning system.
Application of Online Learning in Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
The E-learning system is gradually but steadily being incorporated in the psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner program (Mazanec et al., 2019). The program forms statistics of the few PMHNP programs that can completely be offered online. Due to its interactive nature, in most cases, the students undertaking the program are expected to diagnose, assess, administer therapy and carry out a medical prescription for patients suffering from psychiatric disorders, problems related to substance abuse, and organic brain disorders due to medical conditions (Hampton et al., 2017). Thus, the online programs mainly designed for psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners should comprehensively cover the skills and pharmacological content necessary for treating vulnerable groups like children, families, and adults.
The quality and outcomes of online learning have been widely supported by numerous research to be at the same level as those of the traditional learning system, which requires the physical presence of both the tutor and the student (Mazanec et al., 2019). However, Its use in psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner programs has significantly been suppressed as a result of intrinsic limitations like the absence of real-time interaction with the patients. Nevertheless, studies have consistently shown that online learning can effectively be applied in the psychiatric field through the integration of both the traditional learning system and the online learning system.
The online learning has drawn considerable attention from the Psychiatric field, but numerous critical factors collectively work against the online concept in this particular field. These factors are crucial in molding an efficient psychiatric; they include issues improper management of time, effective use of learning techniques and materials, and active participation of both the tutor and the learners in the online learning platform (Hampton et al., 2017). Nonetheless, it is anticipated that in the future, the online learning concept will develop efficiently in the psychiatric field, leading to the harmonization of the distinct education programs imminent across countries. They are further creating a platform for the secure exchange of both experiences and opinions by different psychiatrists around the globe concerning emergent topics.
Benefits of Online Learning in Nursing
In the field of the nursing profession, the combination of both the rapidly evolving technology and the internet has created modern opportunities for improved, efficient teaching and learning strategies through the online learning platforms (Hofmeyer et al., 2016). For instance, the online learning platforms are highly effective in carrying out simulations of real-life scenarios that are likely to be encountered by the nurses in the line of duty. Furthermore, the creation of real-life situations makes the learning process more exciting and lively. The simulations also allow the students to give the problem at hand more in-depth analysis since the simulations can be paused and played at the will of the students.
Furthermore, the online learning in nursing creates an interactive environment for both the tutors and the learners. As a result, the learning process is student-centered as the students gain the necessary momentum needed to undertake the learning process (Richter & Schuessler, 2019). The virtual learning technique enhances the instructors' and learners' ability to effectively share the crucial information in a relatively short period regardless of their difference in the locality. This is because both the learners and the tutors' have various electronic sharing engines at there disposal, the mediums for the exchange of programs include the electronic mails and other social electronic platforms explicitly designed for the class.
Nonetheless, online learning in nursing helps in reducing the workload for both the instructor and the nursing students. For instance, learning materials can be sent to the students by the tutor instead of referring the students to read books in libraries (McCutcheon et al., 2018). Also, the online concept enables the tutor to filter the information being accessed to the student through sending only the necessary files to the learners; this is a great improvement as opposed to the traditional learning concept where the learners have to access the entire book to filter out the necessary information.
Limitations of Online Learning in Nursing
The most alarming challenge in online learning, specifically in nursing education, is anchored on the cost of facilitating the learning programs to the required standards by respective nursing learning institutions (Mazanec et al., 2019). For instance, the nursing simulation applications, which are very crucial components of online learning in nursing practice, are costly for the learning institutions to acquire and implement effectively. Consequently, the quality of the online learning programs is compromised.
Nonetheless, nursing practice is an interactive field that needs strong collaboration with various health institutions and hospitals (Hofmeyer et al., 2016). However, in contrast with the traditional learning system that presents the learners with the opportunity of interacting with patients in real-time and learning how different aspects of nursing care are applied in real-life scenarios, the online learning programs use simulations of nursing scenarios. Consequently, the learners are detached as there is no sense of realism in the simulations leading to the students not being well informed on various concepts of nursing.
Furthermore, there is a great concern regarding the credibility of the academic certifications and credential of nursing achieved through online learning programs. Traditionally, different tests and examinations designed to gauge the understanding of learners regarding various concepts have been done under a rigorous environment, mostly under the supervision of qualified invigilators (Hampton et al., 2017). However, the online tests are done in the absence of the physical presence of the invigilator. As a result, the students are free to refer at any given point through the use of search engines like google. Hence, there is a considerable concern on the process of examination administration, which directly influences the outcome of the examination and the criterion for the award of the certificates.
In conclusion, it is undoubted that education is rapidly integrating with the fast-evolving computer technology. The development of the online-learning system has considerably addressed some of the challenges experienced in in-class learning, such as issues on flexibility. However, online education has its shortcomings, many of which are concerned with the authenticity of the academic credentials obtained via online learning. Based on several studies on the effectiveness of online learning, it is inevitable that the method of learning is as effective as in-class learning and even more affordable. However, in the field of psychiatric mental health nursing practitioners, the implementation is considerably being slowed by the fact that the online learning programs lack real-time interaction with patients.
Hampton, D., Pearce, P. F., & Moser, D. K. (2017). Preferred methods of learning for nursing students in an online degree program. Journal of Professional Nursing, 33(1), 27-37. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.profnurs.2016.08.004
Hofmeyer, A., Toffoli, L., Vernon, R., Taylor, R., Fontaine, D., Klopper, H. C., & Coetzee, S. K. (2016). Teaching the practice of compassion to nursing students within an online learning environment: A qualitative study protocol. Contemporary Issues in Education Research (CIER), 9(4), 201-222. https://doi.org/10.19030/cier.v9i4.9790
Mazanec, P., Ferrell, B., Malloy, P., & Virani, R. (2019). Educating associate degree nursing students in primary palliative care using online-e-learning. Teaching and Learning in Nursing, 14(1), 58-64. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.teln.2018.10.002
McCutcheon, K., O'Halloran, P., & Lohan, M. (2018). Online learning versus blended learning of clinical supervisee skills with pre-registration nursing students: a randomized controlled trial. International Journal of Nursing Studies, 82, 30-39. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijnurstu.2018.02.005
Richter, S. L., & Schuessler, J. B. (2019). Nursing Faculty Experiences and Perceptions of Online Teaching: A Descriptive Summary. Teaching and Learning in Nursing, 14(1), 26-29. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.teln.2018.09.004
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