Canadian Journal of Nursing Informatics

Looking Back EIGHT Years

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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.


Looking Back2016 It came as a bit of a surprise to me that I have been writing a column for the Canadian Journal of Nursing Informatics (CJNI) for about eightyears. My first column was published in the Summer 2008 issue with a focus on nursing education and technology. I decided to go back through the issues and see how my column has changed or more importantly, how nursing education has/has not changed as a result of technology. I have highlighted one or two key concepts from each column and I will let you come to your own conclusions! Just keep in mind that in 2015, the Gates Foundation released the results of a survey that focused on faculty attitudes toward new teaching technologies and approaches. The results suggest that faculty members are aware of new developments in teaching, but that less than half implement them in their classrooms (FTI Consulting 2015). Approximately 29% of respondents said that they had adopted a flipped classroom and 27% had used open source material to augment course content (FTI Consulting). Although most faculty members were familiar with a variety of approaches, they often believed the approach was not relevant or that they had not yet tried it. For instance, the majority of faculty said that they were familiar with tools of technology and social media but had not used them or felt that they were not pertinent to their classes (FTI Consulting).  Evidence supports a continuing reliance on lecture in many fields (Weimer, 2016).

Summer 2008:

PODCASTING: Learning @nywhere, @nytime

Podcasting is one of the more recent strategies being used in teaching and learning environments as it brings powerful capabilities to educators and supports a wide range of educational activities such as debates, expert interviews, storytelling, tutorials, and sharing of professional information. “A podcast is an innovative way to deliver media files for distribution over the Internet and playback on desktop computers and portable media devices” (Forbes & Hickey, 2008). What is different about podcasting? Although similar in many ways to the radio as a communication and educational tool, podcasting differs in that students have choices about where and when to listen to the audio content. Students identify the advantages of this innovative and responsive technology as having access to course content on a twenty-four-hour basis, being able to listen to content anywhere and anytime, and having free access to most online podcasts (Windham, 2007). Students can become involved in designing and developing their own podcasting projects instead of doing the usual assignments, such as writing papers or doing class demonstrations.

Winter 2009

Wondering about Wikis- Give Them a Try!

From a pedagogical perspective, projects such as Wikibooks support collaborative learning and assist students in dealing with a complicated and diverse world. Generally, students benefit from working with others and sharing knowledge to solve a problem or complete a project. Educators are being challenged to design educational projects that support engagement and group processes rather than focusing on individual performance (Brill & Park, 2008; McGee & Diaz, 2007). Users are encouraged to reflect on how their processes and groups will develop and evolve. Educators should think about the content and the processes that will assist with or enhance student learning and consider using wikis as a teaching and learning tool. “Selecting technologies that will further teaching and learning should be a dynamic and iterative process for an institution, for departments that support teaching and learning, and for the individual faculty member” (McGee & Diaz, 2007, Conclusion, para. 1).

Spring 2009

e-books, e-readers, and readers

What exactly is an e-book? It is an “…electronic book that can be read digitally on a computer screen, a special e-book reader, a personal digital assistant (PDA), or even a mobile phone. In other words, e-books are consumed on a screen rather than on paper” (Nelson, 2008, Highlights of e-books, 1). The literature suggests that the uptake of e-books has been slower than expected due to factors such as generational preferences, lack of compatible devices and standards, long-standing usage patterns, and current economic models for distribution of texts (Nelson, 2008; Rowlands, Nicholas, Jamali & Huntington, 2007; Soules, 2009). Regardless of the challenges, nurse educators should prepare for the inevitability of this change as research indicates that “nearly a quarter of students prefer e-books for conducting research, and nearly one-fifth of students prefer e-textbooks. In contrast, only 8% of faculty reported preferring e-books for conducting research, and none reported e-textbooks as a preference” (Walton, as cited in Nelson, 2008, Cultural Acceptance, ¶ 4).

Summer 2009

Ready or Not: m-Learning is Here!

M-learning is an activity in which individuals can carry out learning activities using mobile devices such as smart phones, personal digital assistants (PDAs), multi-game devices, personal media players (PMPs), or notebooks. Peters (2007) describes the use of these devices as providing the “…`just enough, just in time, just for me’ model of flexible learning…, and is therefore just one of a suite of options that can be adapted to suit individual learning needs” (¶ 4). The third generation (3G) mobile services are being marketed as very efficient teaching and learning tools. Students who use mobile devices can participate in assessments and evaluations (e.g., quizzes, tests, surveys/polls), get on-the-job support, search for citations, and receive update alerts, forms, and checklists (Brown & Metcalf, 2008). Although the 3G networks and applications are readily available to students and educators, the specific uses of m-learning still need to be researched for pedagogical significance (Kukulska-Hulme, 2007).

Fall 2009

Working with Wordles

Since the creation of, a number of documents can be found about how to use Wordles in the classroom. Immediately following the inaugural speech of President Obama, many online Wordles were posted that summarized the predominant words used in his speech. From a teaching and learning perspective for nursing students, you might want to think about how Wordles could be used as a pre-reading activity and as a way to encourage students to make some predictions or connections about key concepts or themes for an upcoming class about nursing or health care. You could also use the software as a summative activity and invite nursing students to create their own Wordles by providing their key points about course content…Students can be encouraged to look at a Wordle of the writing they have done and see if they were surprised by what appeared as the most frequent words? Is that what they expected from inserting their own essay into the tool?

Spring 2010

Question of the Year

As educators, we are acutely aware of the diversity of ideas about the challenges and opportunities provided by technology for the ways that we think in both our professional and personal lives. “Are we becoming Pancake People — spread wide and thin as we connect with that vast network of information accessed by the mere touch of a button?” (Foreman, 2010, 1) or are we “… in a situation where modern technology is changing the way people behave, people talk, people react, people think, and people remember?” (Schirrmacher, 2010, 6).  The arrival of new technologies does not mean that learning has to change. Learning should only change for learning’s sake. Take a few minutes to identify ways that your thinking about professional issues and content has changed over the past few months or years. How do you use the Internet to think about your area of expertise, your style of teaching, and your own way of keeping up-to-date in your specific research and teaching areas? Is the Internet changing how, why, and where you think?

 Summer 2010

Use Your Imagination…

As I used the SurfaceTM, I kept thinking about how this innovation could be incorporated into the teaching and learning environments for nursing students. For example, if a faculty member had access to a Surface TM in the classroom, students could send digital files or documents directly from their laptop to a large wall mounted SurfaceTM; at this point other students could add, delete, or revise the existing document from their mobile devices. “The effect is to define both personal and public interactive work surfaces and allow students to fluidly transition between them. By giving equal access to the public surfaces in classroom settings, faculty empower students to inject content directly during a presentation, at which point faculty can invite students to comment on why that content is relevant to the current discussion and can thus promote richer engagement through participation” (Milne, 2007, Transforming Video Displays into Interactive Work Surfaces, ¶ 1). The Microsoft SurfaceTM supports direct interaction, multi-touch recognition, multi-user interaction, and object recognition- it is simple and intuitive to use. What could you do with one of these Surfaces TM in your classroom?

Fall 2010

Methods of Teaching and Learning

 So – how are we doing today with the use of resources, selection of teaching methods, and connections/interactions with students? I believe it’s all about options and choices. What tools are critical to support the delivery of selected content? What technology and tools should students use to support their own learning? What percentage of time is committed to lectures in comparison to other methods? Rheingold (2010) suggests that “The technologies that we have in our pockets today are powerful engines for participation…if we want to discover how we can engage students as well as ourselves in the 21st century, we must move beyond skills and technologies. We must explore also the interconnected social media literacies of attention, participation, cooperation, network awareness, and critical consumption” (Interconnection, ¶2).  I think that the basis of the question Weir raised in 1932 is something we should still be asking ourselves today- Are the twentieth century methods of instruction applicable in a rapidly-moving twenty-first century world?

Winter 2011

How are you using Social Networking Tools?

I believe that the social networking tool has the ability to support the co-creation of content (Kaminski, 2009) with students taking responsibility to evaluate resources that they find online and determine if and how these resources add to existing course content.  In addition, students can post questions or short research based narratives for other students to respond to or to comment on from their perspective. The site can be customized and I have added a Twitter tool to provide short course updates and news on a regular basis. Although I have a great deal to learn about the use of a social networking site for teaching, I think that it is a valuable experience for me, as an educator, to use this tool to determine its pedagogical significance. In addition, it provides students with the experience of working within professional parameters on a social networking tool.

Spring 2011

What is Your Favourite Nursing App?

Looking for apps is like looking for a needle in a haystack so ask for recommendations from other nurses and educators about the best apps that they have on their hand-held devices. If you click on one of the featured apps, it will provide a brief description, some screen shots of the app, the price to download, as well as customer ratings and customer reviews. One of the features that I like on the iTunes app site, is the section titled “What other customers bought” which provides additional apps on the same theme. Apps can range from free to over $100.00 and the quality varies with each app. For example, the RNAO Nursing Best Practice Guidelines app is available for both iPhone and iPad for $0.99 while the Nursing Spectrum Drug Handbook app sells for $29.99. In addition to the nursing content apps, there are many other categories related to nursing such as games, lifestyle choices, calculating apps, health, and fitness.

Spring 2012

Insight and Innovation

 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. I am more inclined to think of the physical classroom as ‘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!

Fall 2012

Technology is a Game-changer in Higher Education

Think about the skills and information that students bring to our classrooms as they surf, search, and Google the World Wide Web. “The use of ICTs has become routine in the lives of most Canadians. Thus, it is to be expected that upon entering an undergraduate program, nursing students will possess the foundational skills… nursing students would have gained these skills through elementary and secondary level education, and through life experiences” (CASN & Canada Health Infoway, 2012, p. 2). Think about how convenient it is to send instant messages to students, to attach files, and send announcements to the entire group of students. But “the impact of information technology goes beyond convenience—it can change the game through the student’s experience. The college or university “experience” is more than the classroom, the course, or the campus. The experience is determined by social, technical, and intellectual interactions involving students, faculty, and staff; the organization; and the infrastructure, including technology” (Oblinger, 2012, Improving the College Experience, ¶ 1).

Winter/Spring 2013

3D Printing: Potential and Possibilities

Scientists are already using 3D printers to make prosthetic body parts. Although it is amazing technology, it is creating a number of ethical and legal situations. Dimitrov, Schreve, & de Beer (2006) discuss implications and challenges in the fields of design and engineering analysis, medicine, and architecture. One of the articles I read indicated that a person can sketch or copy products from online or actual products and then make a copy on the 3D printer. So – what about copyright? How do copyright regulations address this emerging technology? However, on the positive side, I can think of many ways that a 3D printer would be useful in the classroom or nursing lab.  What about creating small models of human body parts or of equipment so that students have an opportunity to work with the objects?  What about designing new items for use in the classroom that reflect the teaching outcomes? How many times have you thought about a situation where you needed an object to clarify or demonstrate a particularly difficult nursing concept?

Winter/Spring 2014

Possibilities with Photographs

 Photography is about an individual’s perception of himself/herself and current events, as well as the preservation of a moment in time. Whether it is a news clipping or a flippant pose, photographs can provide invaluable insight to those who are looking at it at some point in the future (Mackey, 2013). Educators and students can select photos from their lived experience and choose the ones to showcase to others, much like the original photo album or scrapbook. The evolution of the photograph in the age of technology is irrevocable; educators need to discover techniques to bring the self-reflection back into the art of capturing images and using themes from the images. As nursing students and educators, you can approach the learning outcomes of courses in a number of ways with personal photographs without having the worry of copyright issues. Make your classes and assignments stand out from the rest!

Fall 2015

Augmented Reality: What to Design?


In November 2015, I attended the 8th International Conference on e-Learning and Innovative Pedagogies in Santa Cruz, California. I attended several informative and interesting sessions throughout the conference but the one that caught my attention was a presentation on Augmented Reality (AR). AR now has unlimited uses with the advantage of portability that comes from using smart phones, the focus on self- learning, and the overall acceptance rate of adopting applications for teaching and learning. Since I returned home from the conference, I have been thinking about how to design, create, and deliver AR strategies that will engage students in the content of the courses that I teach. However, I need to keep in mind the learning intents of the courses, the pedagogical significance of the strategies, and the triggers that I will need to use to move the strategy from reality to virtual environments! Again, I am reminded of the phrase- Pedagogy first, then the tools of technology!

Winter 2016

Looking Forward…

As I reread the columns and reflected on my own teaching practice, I realized that I still use some of the instructional strategies that I described in my teaching and learning spaces but have moved on, or evolved, or just forgotten some ideas that I presented in the column about technology and teaching. I recently spent considerable time thinking about disruptive technology in teaching and how to create and sustain an educational path using the tools of technology to support students meeting their learning outcomes (Bassendowski & Petrucka, 2015).

Enhancing students’ higher-order thinking skills, such as creativity, decision-making, critical thinking, and reflection, is a critical task for educators given the changing tools of technology. But despite the expansion of technology, applications, professional development opportunities, and capabilities in recent decades, traditional lecture-based teaching continues to prevail (Al-Zahrani, 2015).

Many aspects of teaching—instructional strategies, course design, approaches to testing, assignments, and grading—have changed very little over the decades. “Some faculty do change, a lot and regularly, but not the majority. The question is, “Why?” (Weimer,  2016). Weimer gives some ideas about this question: She suggests that change is harder than we think, we underestimate the complexity of sustainable change, it is more difficult when we do it by ourselves, and we are often risk aversive.

 Maybe we are going about it in the wrong way. Perhaps as Weiser (1991) states in the article by Paiva, Morais, Costa, & Pinheiro (2016), our goal should be to take the “e” out of e-learning. It is the ubiquity of a technology that makes it invisible and seamlessly supportive: “The most profound technologies are those that disappear. They weave themselves into the fabric of everyday life until they are indistinguishable from it” (¶12). So how do we do that?  What do we need, as educators, to support us in this move to ubiquitous technologies that assist us as we teach and engage with students?

In summary, innovative, interested, and creative educators are the foundation to student learning success. They are the ones who can persuade colleagues and administrators to get involved and use all the learning potential (Note: I am trying to move away from saying e-learning): “…They are the animators who can engage students into using online resources and participating in online activities; they are the professionals who can create quality resources and organize attractive online environments” (Paiva, Morais, Costa, & Pinheiro, 2016).  What will the rest of this decade bring for creative and disruptive teaching and learning? Take some time, sit back, and reflect on your teaching and how you want to actively support and engage with your students before 2020…


Al-Zahrani, A. M. (2015). From passive to active: The impact of the flipped classroom through social learning platforms on higher education students’ creative thinking. British Journal of Educational Technology, 46: 1133–1148. doi: 10.1111/bjet.12353

Bassendowski, S., & Petrucka, P. (2015). Disruptive by design: Making informed choices about the use of technology for teaching. Ubiquitous Learning, 8(4), pp. 15-22. Available:

Brill, J., & Park, Y. (2008). Facilitating engaged learning in the interaction Age: Taking a pedagogically-disciplined approach to innovation with emergent technologies. International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 20(1), 70-78. Accessed:

CASN and Canada Health Infoway. (2012). Nursing informatics: Entry-to-Practice Competencies for Registered Nurses. Ottawa: Author.

Dimitrov, D.,  Schreve, K., & de Beer, N. (2006). Advances in three dimensional printing – state of the art and future perspectives. Rapid Prototyping Journal, 12(3),136 – 147.

Forbes, M., & Hickey, M. (2008). Podcasting: Implementation and evaluation in an undergraduate nursing program. Nurse Educator, 33(5). Accessed from Ovid database.

Foreman, R. (2010). World Question Center, Edge. Accessed:

Goold, A., Coldwell, J. & Craig, A. (2010). An examination of the role of the e-tutor. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 26(5), 704–716. Accessed:

Kaminski, J. (2009). Editorial: Harnessing the wave of co-creation. Online Journal of Nursing Informatics, 13(3). Accessed:

Kukulska-Hulme, A. (2007). Mobile Usability in Educational Contexts: What have we

learnt? International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning 8 (2). Accessed:

Mackey, A. (2013). Scrapbook versus Facebook©. Online Journal of Nursing Informatics (OJNI), 17(2). Accessed:

Oblinger, D. (2012). IT as a game changer. EDUCAUSE Review, 47(3).  Accessed:

McGee, P., & Diaz, V. (2007). Wikis and podcasts and blogs! Oh my! What is a faculty member supposed to do? EDUCAUSE Review, 42(5), 28-41. Accessed:

Milne, A. (2009). Entering the interaction age: Implementing a future vision for campus learning spaces. EDUCAUSE Review, 42(1), 12-31. Accessed:

Nelson, M. (2008). E-books in higher education: Nearing the end of the era of hype? EDUCAUSE Review, 43(2). Accessed:

Paiva, J., Morais, C., Costa, L., & Pinheiro, A. (2016). The shift from “e-learning” to “learning”: Invisible technology and the dropping of the “e.” British Journal of Educational Technology, 47(2), 226-238.

Peters, K. (2007). m-Learning: Positioning educators for a mobile, connected future.

International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning 8 (2). Accessed:

Rheingold, H. (2010). Attention, and other 21st century social media literacies. EDUCAUSE Review, 45(5), 14-24. Accessed:

Rowlands, I., Nicholas, D., Jamali, H., & Huntington, P. (2007). What do faculty and students really think about e-books? AsLib Proceedings, 59(6). Accessed: ProQuest database.

Schirrmacher, F. (2010). World Question Center, Edge. Accessed:

Soules, A. (2009). The shifting landscape of e-books. New Library World, 110(1/2), 7-21. [Online]. Accessed: Emerald database.

Weir, G. (1932). Survey of nursing education in Canada. Canadian Medical Association and Canadian Nurses Association, Canada.

Windham, C. (2007). Confessions of a podcast junkie. EDUCAUSE Review, 42(3). Accessed:

Weimer, M. (2016, February). Why are we so slow to change the way we teach? Faculty Focus. Accessed:


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