Benefits of Technology in Nursing Education in a Digital Era

Wearable technology and health care, doctor managing patient vitals

Healthcare education is one of the most fertile grounds for technology innovation, particularly in nursing content delivery and skills training. In this article we feature some of the latest innovations that highlight the benefits of technology in nursing education in a digital era including: mobile, augmented/virtual reality, IoT, 3D printing, and eConsults.

Mobile learning enabling distributed practice paradigm

Benefit: delivery of educational content in effective and efficient chunks that improves learning outcomes
When tackling a new and sometimes daunting subjects like paediatrics and intensive care, the strategy of  distributed practice or the approach of spreading out learning over time has proven effective by researchers at Science Daily. Technology allows students to further divide their learning into even small sub-divisions.

“Dunlosky and colleagues report that spreading out your studying over time and quizzing yourself on material before the big test are highly effective learning strategies. Both techniques have been shown to boost students’ performance across many different kinds of tests, and their effectiveness has been repeatedly demonstrated for students of all ages.”

This is accomplished by delivering traditional learning content to multiple screens like tablet, tv, or mobile phone. Accomplishing the ability to allow students to study in a variety of settings or when there are brief moments during commuting times. Further due to the layout and design of mobile content, education materials are naturally organized into bite size and contained pieces of learning.

Virtual and augmented reality redefining learning content interaction

Benefit: increased retention of concepts and procedures through engagement of multi-sensory learning

Virtual reality aside from its immersive entertainment applications is quickly becoming an effective means to visualize, interact, an engage with health science content. The technology allows for students to be projected into a digital environment (VR) or project digital overlays or enhancements of the present space. The mode of delivery provides new levels of course and instructor interaction that have not been realized prior.

Example of virtual reality in healthcare

Using virtual reality in healthcare setting with army personnelExample of augmented reality nursing eduction

Augmented reality and anatomy learning In a recent Ted Talk one speaker demonstrated the effectiveness of Virtual Reality technology in education but allowing professors to lecture and visualize a model of human anatomy before a class.

Virtual reality learning content can also provide haptic feedback to students creating more authentic learning experience that engages a larger number of senses, leading to better learning outcomes and increased retention of materials (source). Educators can now prepare for situations by using digital simulations for patient conditions or hospital flow environments while limiting the impact on real human patients and the environment. This allows for deeper levels of learning given that touch informs visual learning to a greater degree than visual learning impacts touch learning (source).

IoT (internet of things) fuels operational efficiency and collaborative learning

Benefit: connecting knowledge with needs to enable collaborative learning; allows institutions to efficiently utilize resources

The internet of things is the enablement of automated or streamlined operation of devices and equipment by connecting them to the internet, in order to effectively utilize resources or gain insights. Schools are finding they can save significant amounts on operating costs each year by having school equipment and temperature controlled programmatically.

For example schools can manage their heating and lighting usage in an automated fashion due period of low activity like when classes have completed or based on the number of people on campus. One school in Tipp Ohio is saving upwards of $100,000 by using a web based system to control mechanical equipment in the building in an automated fashion (source).

The IoT paradigm to utilizing technology and infrastructure together can further create collaborative learning opportunities. If a student was looking for help in their paediatrics class, but aren’t certain who to speak with, a learning system app that can digest mobile location data can help connect students who opt into having their location and course interactions published. The student with insight to offer could then be reward for collaborating or helping a fellow student despite using only standard technology devices like a school management system and personal mobile devices.

Wearable technology training practitioners for preventative healthcare

Wearable technology and health care, doctor managing patient vitals

Image courtesy of Brother UK with some rights reserved.

Benefits: enables students to practice managing health of patients in a preventative manner

Wearable technology is also a subset of IoT devices where by health data is tracked by accessories like a watch or necklaces that transmit vitals to an application. This provides insights on health and personal fitness that can be used to formulate tailored treatment or timely intervention. Utilizing wearable technologies can help nursing students manage the health of their patients proactively.

Remote eConsults for training practitioners to serve rural communities

man receiving consult from a care providerBenefit: trains practitioners to serve rural communities at scale while managing limitations of technology

Video conferencing has been around for almost two decades now. It is also an established technology used by healthcare providers use to serve rural populations. Despite difficulty in reaching these places telecommunications can enable practitioners to provide timely medical advice and guidance to rural citizens.

By utilizing technology to facilitate remote consultations this allows for students to be trained in etiquette and methods in best utilizing video conference to serve patients. This can further help nurses create empathy and connection without being in person with a patient which are integral parts to quality care (source).

3D printing to deliver tailored healthcare

3d printing with Makerbot realizing benefits of technology in nursing educationBenefit: allows nurses to serve endless a diaspora of patient needs addressed by personal equipment in a  cost effective and scalable manner

3D printing allows for the production of real life materials, equipment, and replacement parts in a just in time fashion that is tailored and scalable. For healthcare institutions looking to decrease their stock of inventory to ensure resources are properly allocated, 3D printing enables the right equipment or replacement at just the right times. As of 2016 there are nearly 100 hospitals with centralized 3D printing facility (source).

This approach to creating tailored healthcare equipment like custom fitted casts or synthetic bones and organs may be another approach to delivering high quality and scalable care. Nursing students may also benefit from utilizing 3D printing to provide patient tailored products which will then require a basic understanding of the technology and how it can better serve patient. It will further require nursing candidates to understand how to trace and capture the mould for patients and also input them into a 3D printer.

Examples of  applications includes hobbyists having created custom synthetic limbs that allow amputees to function and performance everyday tasks.

From proof of concepts to proof of care

Mindfield Consulting is a leader in enabling organization to better utilize technology to meet their mission and mandate in an effective and scalable manner. Institutions can leverage our expertise in creating a business case, connecting technology applications, and measuring outcomes. Mindfield delivers missions critical technologies for over two decades.

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