This project involved integrating SWAY technology into NUR 407, a course in the RN-BSN program. NUR 407 introduces registered nurses to the research process. The formal research process is foreign to most students in the program. Thus, a main goal was to bring specific research concepts and principles down the ladder of abstraction, by integrating connections into clinical practice. These types of connections can assist students in seeing how the research process can be applied to daily professional practice.
NUR 407 is an online course offered over a seven week session. In this particular course, professional experience as a registered nurse was between 1-2 years. Additionally, for some students this was one of the first courses taken in the program, for others it was a course taken towards the end of the program. Therefore, I considered which type of technology could meet the primary goal along with not being overwhelming to the student.
A variety of technologies to augment online learning were assessed for appropriateness and user friendliness. It was determined that SWAY met these criterion. The SWAY interface revolves around a storyline (selected by the user), into which users add a series of cards. Each of these are cards are filled with content that is applicable to the storyline. Various cards are available for different types of content and can be grouped together into sections. Content intended to be the user’s narrative can be easily rearranged, deleted or adapted. This flexibility allows stories, based upon educational content to be created in SWAY. This approach is readily adapted, efficient and free-flowing. It can serve as an alternative to PowerPoint presentations. Unlike PowerPoint, there is no option for creating content in SWAY itself. Content must be uploaded into the software as it’s intended to be used or it can be pulled directly from different sources from within SWAY. Current sources include You Tube, Facebook and Flickr.
To integrate SWAY into the course, I reviewed course content that was less familiar/more abstract in order to integrate SWAY accordingly. I then identified relevant topics, searched the literature, and developed a SWAY. Additionally, a Bubbl.us (concept mapping) exercise and Survey Monkey (assessment purposes) were built into the SWAY. I did a brief introduction of each technology piece and encouraged students to reach out with questions. In order to use Bubbl.us, students had to create an account, which had no associated costs.
Assessment was conducted by integrating a brief Survey Monkey questionnaire within SWAY. The majority of students rated SWAY and associated tools, i.e. Bubbl.us as positive learning tools. Likewise, the majority of students had never been exposed to these types of technology.
Students expressed an appreciation for doing something “visual” that assisted in clarifying meaning of abstract content. Additionally they were able to make connections between abstract research concepts and daily clinical practice. During the latter part of the course, students revisited SWAY content and commented on its effectiveness in meeting course objectives and overall learning.
Reflections and Next Steps
I plan to more fully integrate SWAY into graduate nursing courses, as applicable. The wide array of topics, visuals, and technologies that can be integrated into SWAY make it a viable technology for both undergraduate and graduate level courses. The user friendliness, ability to engage students and overall creative approaches make it a highly useful tool. Additionally, its usefulness allows for creatively highlighting specific educational content. I will continue to integrate both Bubbl.us and Survey Monkey into future SWAY presentations.