November 16, 2012
Danielle Lacey

Digital Classroom Unites Ph.D. Nursing Class

The School of Nursing is taking part in a pilot program that allows University distance learners and on-site students to learn and interact together like they never could before.

Distance and on-campus doctoral nursing students come together for classes through the use of hardware and software used in a new digital classroom.
Web based, high-definition video conferencing allows on-campus and distance learners to share class experiences with enhanced voice-over-internet (VoIP) technology controls and display design. Submitted photo

A new digital classroom at the School of Nursing will allow the University to teach on-campus and distance Ph.D. nursing students simultaneously, increasing enrollment and preventing loss of qualified students.

"As the nation faces a major nurse faculty shortage, the University will prepare qualified doctoral faculty to teach in schools of nursing," said Andrew Mills, Ph.D., director of the Ph.D. nursing program. "The digital classroom helps us prepare more nurse scientists and nurse faculty. More research is needed to improve our understanding of patients and the care they receive."

Since 2005, the Ph.D. nursing program has had a dual option for admission with on-site students admitted in even-number years and distance students admitted in odd-number years. However, this often resulted in qualified applicants having their studies delayed an entire year if their preferred option was not available.

The pilot program, which is also being tested with the School of Public Health, facilitates and enhances the use of FuzeMeeting video software and allows for faculty members to provide learning environments with geographic and intellectual diversity.

Distance and on-site students are able to come together for in a live, leading-edge environment, which maintains the culture and climate of a traditional classroom, regardless of students' venue. Students are free to speak freely without the nuisances of traditional technology, such as pushing buttons to raise their hands or speak. Faculty can lecture, display information, share websites and video to all students through two high-definition cameras and four microphones embedded in the classroom's ceiling.

"It is exciting to watch faculty simultaneously teach both students sitting in the classroom and those joining classroom from a distance," Mills said. "The digital classroom is an important contribution to the University in upgrading its technology to benefit student learning and facilitate faculty teaching."

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