Online education is taking advantage of new technologies and engaging studentsat a level comparable to what students experience on a traditional university campus. This new and improved online experience is a far cry from the early days of online schooling, where students would log on, complete assignments, and take tests without much interaction with teachers or fellow students.
Video conferencing technologies, advanced computer simulations, social media, mobile devices, and the Internet of Things (IoT) make online classroom environments comparable to brick-and-mortar universities and in many ways even provide a level of technological training that is usually not available on campus. Online students tend to graduate with a higher level of proficiency in computers (especially related to their field) than their on-campus counterparts.
Online Education Has Come A Long Way Since Its Inception
For a long time, online education was limited to certain fields and was rarely available for graduate or post-graduate programs. Today, however, even MSN and post-graduate certificate courses such as Duquesne University’s online Family Nurse Practitioner program can be earned via the internet.
Both need and convenience have driven advancements in online schooling. “Thirty years ago subsidies for higher education institutions were generous, sometimes as high as 80 percent. Today that figure hovers more around 20 percent,” healthcare journalist Susannah Holz writes in “Campus vs. Online: Where is the future of education located?”. “This simply means that universities need to do more with less, and expanding enrollment, without a correlated increase in cost, is the holy grail of a traditional university’s marketing strategy.”
Holz is essentially saying that online education is here to stay because it allows institutions to increase their enrollment without having to expand and invest in more brick-and-mortar infrastructure. Universities are now dedicating themselves to maximizing their assets through a digitized curriculum, learning management systems, and content development.
“Nursing faculty immersed themselves in this new learning culture, navigating the online landscape, learning new technologies and teaching methods, and adapting the clinical education arena to work with distance faculty and on-site instructors called preceptors,” Mary Ellen Smith Glasgow, PhD, et al, explain in their “Online Nursing Education: Virtual Classrooms and Clinical Simulations Help Meet Student Needs” article in the Journal of Catholic Health Association of the United States.
Fast-forward to today and online graduate nursing programs offer advanced simulation programs with virtual patients that can be assessed, examined, and documented. Other programs focus on teaching population-based health and primary care in community-centered environments. Even testing can be done via webcams to ensure that students take their tests in a secure environment (i.e., not cheating). In fact, even many on-campus students use the same programs.
Blurring The Lines Between Online And On-Campus
Online and on-campus university programs are likely to become even more blended in the future. Students who use online schooling exclusively and those who take some online classes are both on the rise.
According to Campus Technology contributing editor Dian Schaffhauser’s article, “On-Campus Enrollment Shrinks While Online Continues Its Ascent,” 12.6 percent of students were enrolled exclusively in an online program in 2012 while 13.3 percent of students took some online classes. In 2015, the number of online-exclusive students increased to 14.3 percent and the number of students taking at least one online course rose to 15.4 percent.
The infiltration of online resources into every aspect of modern education is blurring the lines between brick-and-mortar schools and online environments—hardly surprising when so many people live and breathe a large portion of their lives on the internet, which can now be carried everywhere in a pocket.
“In some classes, faculty teach face-to-face on campus while simultaneously streaming their lectures to other students, either located in a classroom at a remote site or accessing video versions of the course on laptops or smartphones,” says virtual education expert Robert Ubell in “Let’s End The War Between Online and On-Campus Instruction.”.
“Today, both digital and residential students can manipulate the same software remotely as do scientists, engineers, and scholars,” Ubell says. “Accessing large-scale systems at a distance is now possible in many industries, with virtual and face-to-face students performing experiments or running operations remotely with equal confidence as those at the site.”
Some online programs are even developing student-selected, community-based components that can simultaneously enhance a student’s public health knowledgewhile having positive effects on their own communities. Students pursuing an FNP certificate stand to benefit greatly from such programs.
According to researcher Faheem Ahmed’s “Towards Population-Based Health Care: Students As Public Health Ambassadors”, such programs improve students’ morale and help them build productive relationships with healthcare professionals in their communities.
In the future, online education will not only continue to be a viable option for students but will merge with on-campus components until the line between the two fades away.
Duquesne University’s Online FNP Post-Master’s Certificate
As a leader in online nursing education, Duquesne University has helped scores of APRNs successfully complete testing for AANPCP and ANCC certifications as FNPs. The university’s Family (Individual Across the Lifespan) Nurse Practitionerprogram prepares APRNs for a career helping individuals as primary care providers.
U.S. News and World Report has recognized Duquesne University as a 2017 Best Online Graduate Nursing Program and among the Top 10 Best Online Graduate Nursing Programs for Veterans.