Outreach to improve clinical practice at the bedside

Scott Lankford as quoted by Barkley, E.F. (2009) on p. 71, “I believe technology can be truly transformative-so I’ve integrated the Internet, social networking, and even cell phones into my teaching in every way I know how… I think the keyword for engagement is outreach”.

My first thought was yes! I love online learning, the flexibility to learn whenever and wherever, as I continue my path of life long learning. I have had a variety of experiences with nursing online education. Some courses have been incredibly stimulating and fun, and some I will admit have been mind-numbingly boring. Yet, I have always wondered does online nursing education actually improve point of care at the bedside and how do I engage my staff to partake? Does the online format encourage active learning as described by Barkley, (2009) on p. 16 “active learning … is (making) an idea, a concept, or a solution our own by working it into our personal knowledge and experience.”

The implications of online learning for nursing is vast as “the diverse and complex clinical practice environment that nurses face as part of their everyday practice makes it imperative that they have the skills and knowledge to function successfully.” states, Kenny, A.(2009) https://www.researchgate.net/publication/11426497_Online_learning_Enhancing_nurse_education on p. 127. Skees, J. (2010) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20234199states “practicing at the bedside day after day does not guarantee that a nurse is current and nurses can no longer afford to practice the discipline on outdated principles learned during their basic education” p. 104. “The fast evolving nature of the nursing role and the requirements of registration bodies requires continuing professional development and lifelong learning in all nurses” states Dalhem, W. A., & Saleh, N. (2014) http://cjni.net/journal/?p=3819. Kala et al., (2010) is quoted by Dalhem & Saleh (2014) to say, “that for a number of reasons-most notably staff shortages and geographical isolation –the ability for nurses to undertake traditional face-face training has been dramatically impaired.” p 2. So, how as an educator do I ensure that participation with online education is more than just lost time, meets the needs of the adult learner, and truly impacts care at the bedside?

(Bruder, 1991, Wilson, 1991, Gleydura et al., 1995, Lowry & Johnson, 1999) are quoted by Kenny, (2002) on p 128, to say that “computer assisted learning provides consistency of educational deliver, reduces instruction time, enhances effectiveness and mastery of learning, improves retention and increases student motivation, satisfaction and enjoyment in learning.” To ensure adequate uptake of knowledge Barkley, (2009) states that it is “the teacher’s value comes in the careful observation, analysis, and feedback to a learner that enables improvement”.

A few suggestions to increase staff engagement with the online learning environment that I found in my readings are; the use of games, prizes, team participation, and asking questions, according to Skees, (2010). The creation of an online community through the use of blogs, class twitter accounts, and digital media can achieve this. Webinars and Webcasts are becoming more common in healthcare but many remain dry and lack lustre.

Not losing site of Knowles (1975) assumptions of the adult learner and their need for timely feedback, Barkley (2009) on p. 29 suggests using authentic assessments. Authentic assessments will proved feedback, requires judgment, innovation, efficient and effective us of knowledge and skills to solve complex problems such as clinical scenarios.

So as an educator of nurses in a workplace environment I believe the key to successful knowledge transfer using the online educational format will be; ensuring clear communication of the learning goals, ensuring that the nurses’ have sufficient computer skills for successful completion of the education, ensuring the online learning environment is enhanced through the use of blogs, class twitter accounts, or online communities, and ensuring timely feedback to the nurse in terms of test or scenario results. I am looking forward to using the online format to reach or rather “outreach” as Scott Langford states as quoted by Barkley (2009) on pg 71, as many of my nurses as possible.


Barkley, E. F., (2009). Student Engagement Techniques: A Handbook for College Faculty. 

Dalhem, W. A., & Saleh, N. (2014). The impact of eLearning on nurses’ professional knowledge and practice in HMC. Canadian Journal of Nursing Informatics9(3-4).

Kenny, A. (2002). Online learning: enhancing nurse education? Journal of Advanced Nursing38(2), 127-135.

Skees, J. (2010) A Bridge to Excellence in Critical Care Nursing. Critical Care Nursing Quarterly, April/June. Vol. 33, N., 2. 104-116.


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.


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