A Comparison of Web-Enhanced vs Traditional Classroom Teaching in Women's Health Nurse Practitioner Education

Deborah J. Stiffler, PhD, RN, CNM


Topics in Advanced Practice Nursing eJournal. 2008;8(3) 

In This Article

Trends in Graduate Nursing Education

The environment of graduate education is rapidly changing. Education costs are skyrocketing and budgets are falling, yet the demand for new services continues to grow.[3] Students embarking on graduate education are also changing. Students tend to be older; many pursue degrees despite having full-time jobs and families.[4] The need to increase student enrollment while reducing classroom expenses is one of the reasons that the demand for distance education is growing.[3]

The move to online education has changed how students are taught. There is a shift from the pedagogic model of depositing knowledge to the students to a more androgogic model of mentoring and assisting the student to learn.[4] The faculty member becomes more a facilitator than a content provider.[5] Advances in communication technologies have rendered student-directed learning both possible and desirable.[4]

Students in online courses must take greater responsibility for their learning,[2] be more self-reliant, and be adept at self-motivation and time management.[5] Critical thinking, reflective learning, collaborative learning, and problem solving are just a few skills that are encouraged through online learning.[2]

The key to the successful implementation of an online course is the faculty,[6] but it is not an easy matter to transform an existing course or develop a new course for online education.[4,5,6] According to Folkestad and Haag,[6] early adopters of online education tended to have more positive attitudes about online education and were more motivated to make changes than other faculty members. Faculty who did teach online received intrinsic rewards, such as prestige and higher self-esteem; however, teaching online has not been as rewarding when it comes to scholarly activity and promotion and tenure decisions.[6]

The amount of time required to design and develop an online course is considerable and technical support must be available for both faculty and students.[5] Although the workload for up-front preparation and implementation of an online course is high, there are benefits to this methodology, such as looking at older course material in a newer and deeper way, accessing the multitude of information resources available on the Web, greater student reflection, and more equality between students and the instructor.[5]


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