Tips and techniques for leading instructional courses via the Internet

Nurse Leader Insider, November 30, 2007

Want to receive articles like this one in your inbox? Subscribe to Nurse Leader Insider!

It used to be that teaching a class meant standing in front of your students, lecturing from your handwritten notes while scribbling on a blackboard. Although that is still the preferred method of many educators, the benefits of teaching a course online are catching on. The Journal of Continuing Education in Nursing states that "advances in information technology literacy and the abundance of personal computers has placed E-learning in increased demand."

"Online learning provides a high level of education on many topics," says Pamela Jeffries, DNS, RN, FAAN, associate professor at the Indiana University School of Nursing in Indianapolis, who began teaching online courses about six years ago. "We can provide what the students need. I love the versatility and accessibility."

Jeffries' colleague and mentor, Diane M. Billings, EdD, RN, FAAN, agrees. Also a professor at the Indiana University School of Nursing, she has seen firsthand how online tools can promote learning.

Using the Web: What are my choices?

There are different models that can be used for online learning, says Jeffries. One model is a full Web-based course, in which the instructor never has face-to-face contact with his or her students.
Another model is a partial, or Web-enhanced, course, in which there is still face-to-face interaction in the classroom, but students are referred to the Web for assignments.

When developing an online course, instructors can also decide whether to use a synchronous or asynchronous style, says Jeffries. A synchronous course requires the students to be online for instruction at a set time (e.g., Wednesdays from 6 p.m.-9 p.m.). A course that is asynchronous leaves its course materials on the Web at all times for the students to complete at their convenience.

Billings says she believes in having an asynchronous course, because it is more adaptable to students' schedules. "People can do it on their own time, so if someone has to go take care of some family problems, he or she is able to kick back into the course," she says. "The flexibility wouldn't have been there otherwise."

Editor's Note: This excerpt was adapted from the article, "Can you really teach courses online?" featured in the Evidence-based practice resource center on HCPro's new online resource center,!

Want to receive articles like this one in your inbox? Subscribe to Nurse Leader Insider!

Most Popular