DEVELOPMENT OF ON-LINE TRAINING IN NURSING: THE EXPERIENCE OF THE FACULTY OF NURSING SCIENCE OF UNIVERSITY OF MONTREAL
Recent events relating to the situation of nurses in Quebec has lead to several changes in the way teaching of nursing is approached. Events such as allowing two paths of entry into the profession of nursing (the technical program and the baccalaureate program),the health care reform introduced in the 90’s, coupled with the aging population and the loss of the traditional family unit, have combined to create additional problems. Problems such as the increasing lack of available nurses (including those in teaching and leadership roles), the lack of healthcare resources, an increasingly complex work environment, and increasingly complex health problems within the population. In addition, individuals wishing to pursue a career in nursing or further their education in nursing are often confronted with conciliating family life with work and studies. To further complicate the situation, academic institutions are confronted with fewer pedagogical and financial resources, intense competition between institutions, and the need to offer programs that are accessible, relevant, and up to date while ensuring quality.
Reacting to the current situation of nursing and health care in Quebec, the Faculty of Nursing Science (FSI) of the University of Montreal, within the framework of its strategic plan 2008-2014 identified 4 primary objectives: to pursue the development of innovative programs adapted to the need of the client, to ensure program accessibility and quality, to ensure the promotion of the programs offered and the expertise of the Faculty in teaching, and to increase the number of graduates. To accomplish the objectives and ensure the Faculty’s mission of excellence in teaching and research, it was decided that the Faculty pursue the developed of on-line nursing programs. A report was prepared in which the current situation of on-line nursing programs in Quebec and in Canada was explored, as well as the options for on-line nursing program development at the Faculty. The report recommended that on-line courses be developed within a framework of program development. Courses were developed based on the following pedagogical considerations: accessibility and adaptation of the course to meet the need of the clientele; application of the constructivist learning model (Chickering & Gamson, 1987) and competency based learning; application of the elements of on-line learning as identified by Hotte & Besancon (2007) i.e. utilisation of information and communication technologies, on-line tutoring, asynchrony follow up of learning as needed, in-class learning with technological support if needed. In terms of diffusion of course material, student coaching and provision of feedback, the use of the internet, student based collaborative learning, as well as on-line tutoring including in class sessions if needed were prioritised and guided in the evaluation process. Technological choices were selected and guided by the project management team. To date, four on-line courses have been developed and two courses are in the process of being developed despite many challenges. Started in the fall of 2008, this project has allowed the structured planning of resources while ensuring quality and meeting the need of our client base with a vision for international development.