Canadian Journal of Nursing Informatics

Insight and Innovation

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Technology in Education Column

by Dr Sandra Bassendowski

The Technology in Education column is written by one of our CNA Centennial 100 Award Winners, Dr. Sandra Bassendowski, who is a Professor at the University of Saskatchewan. Sandra recognized a need, and offered to write this important feature for the CJNI – this column is focused on how technology can be used in nursing education and by nurses in general. Sandra has been recognized by the Canadian Nurses’ Association, as well as the Saskatchewan Registered Nurses Association and the University of Saskatchewan for her inspiring, dedicated work in her educational practice.


When I was in London, England this spring, I heard the phrase, “Mind the Gap,” repeated over and over from an automated voice on the Tube. In some ways, I find this phrase applicable when thinking about the integration of technology in teaching and learning spaces. Educators frequently find themselves positioned between what has traditionally been done in teaching and learning environments and what is now needed to take advantage of the available technological tools and virtual environments. As Herz (2005) states, educators live and work in this ‘space between.’ We are faced with a menu of choices about teaching and must consider challenging questions about how to engage our current enrolment of learners. How can we find value in these in-between spaces? How do we become innovative? What is needed for innovation to occur? What insights do we need for to make new connections, to switch lenses, and to implement new strategies?

The Editor-in-Chief of the MISC magazine states “Insights are an articulation of seeing, hearing, feeling, experiencing and processing. They allow for multiple and distinctive points of view (2012, p. 6/7).  Milliron (2007)suggests that we need to glean insights from the past (e.g., data mining) and perspectives on the future (e.g., predictive analytics) to better inform our decisions about students and how to help them be successful. “It is our use of technology tools—within our contexts and toward specific ends—that can make a difference. This idea is the foundation on which today’s insight initiatives are built” (Milliron, ¶4).

I believe that the partnership of new educational pedagogies and innovative technologies will make the biggest difference in the transformation of our educational environments. We will continue to be faced with copyright issues, appropriate use of teaching tools, and the need to transition from our long-held traditions, but we can use insight initiatives to enhance the educational experiences we provide to students.

A few weeks ago, I walked into the auditorium at the end of the semester and stood for a couple of minutes looking at all the empty chairs. At that moment, I thought about the current tools of technology and how they support learning “at any time and any place” and that maybe we should be striving for empty classrooms with row upon row of empty chairs. This image enforces the idea that we have choices for delivery of course content and encourages us to consider the question about how we define face-to-face delivery. I am more inclined to think of the learning space portrayed by the photo as a ‘chair-to-chair’ teaching and that the face-to-face interaction can be (should be) virtual and/or physical. By using innovative tools of technology, we can connect with students, regardless of where they are, and deliver high quality course content. These are exciting times in education!


Herz, J.C. (2005). The space between: Creating a context for learning. EDUCAUSE Review, 40(3), 30-39. Retrieved October 25, 2009 from

Milliron, M. (2007). Insight initiatives. EDUCAUSE Review, 42(2), 68–69. Retrieved June 18, 2012 from

Mootee, I. (2012, Spring). Welcome to the insight issue. MISC, p. 6-7.

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