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‘Opportunity to expand’

Faculty of Nursing prepares for remote – but engaging – semester

Teaching and Learning

By Marcia Porter

Turns out that a version of Jeopardy, the popular television game and quiz competition, is a great way to review cardiology medications with nursing students.

It’s just one of the many practical lessons that Prof. Renee Crossman, an assistant professor in Memorial’s Faculty of Nursing, gleaned from her experience teaching second-year pharmacology remotely this spring.

“While different than in a face-to-face class, the students engaged and answered the questions either through using their mics to verbally answer or answered in the chat option,” said Prof. Crossman.

“It can be challenging, but remote teaching and learning does not present a barrier to an effective teaching-learning partnership, rather an opportunity to expand it,” she said. “I think now more than ever students need engagement.”

Majority remote

With the majority of classes, including all first-year classes, being offered through remote delivery this fall, engaging students in their learning is a top priority for all faculty members, says the dean of the faculty, Dr. Alice Gaudine.

“We have a fantastic group of instructors working hard to prepare their courses,” she said. “They want students to feel connected and involved, and they’re planning time for plenty of interaction, questions and answers, group discussions and seminars.”

For example, with laboratory kits purchased through the university bookstore, students in Prof. Crossman’s pharmacology class completed their laboratory classes remotely in Brightspace, the university’s online learning system.

Learning Resource Centre (LRC) instructors worked with Prof. Crossman to create demonstrations and practice sessions on skills such as drawing up medications, setting up IV therapy and safe medication administration.

The Faculty of Nursing’s Learning Resource Centre is a focal point for the teaching and learning of nursing skills.
Photo: Submitted

This fall Prof. Crossman will work closely with her colleague, Dr. Karen Dobbin-Williams, who teaches second-year pathophysiology of disease, the course that precedes pharmacology.

“Having lectures and tutorials recorded for students to watch has helped so they are not worried about internet connectivity at a specific time,” said Dr. Dobbin-Williams. “The students have found live synchronous sessions good, too, where they can see us and chat with us in real time.”

Dr. Caroline Porr, a former chair of teaching and learning in the faculty, is preparing to teach her first-year therapeutic relations course remotely this fall and credits the Centre for Teaching and Learning (CITL) for helping her transition to remote teaching.

“We have the audio-video equipment in the Cahill Simulation Room to develop video clips showing nurse-patient situations for student training,” she said. “Remote teaching offers opportunities to creatively put universal design for learning principles to work.”

But nursing is a hands-on program, with a concept-based curriculum and mix of academic, laboratory-based and clinical courses that become increasingly complex as students progress.

Nursing students get acquainted in the days before COVID-19.
Photo: Rich Blenkinsopp

It’s one of the main reasons Dr. Gaudine worked with the university administration and occupational health and safety to have students on site for learning nursing skills and the resumption of clinical placements.

Stacey Hancock, an instructor in the LRC, points out that in-person learning comes with strict guidelines for limiting the number of students and instructors in the laboratory at a time, wearing masks, carrying out proper hand hygiene and frequent cleaning of rooms and equipment.

“Most of our fall courses for second- and third-year students have too many complicated skills to be done remotely and need to be done in person so the students can be prepared for the clinical setting,” said Ms. Hancock. “They’re learning about how to insert and care for catheters, how to do complex wound care, central line care and more.”

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