Analysis of online learning and community
The nursing shortage has created a need to educate more nurses through a variety of program options. Conventional classroom education has limited seating capacity forcing universities to hone in on less traditional teaching methods. Teaching nursing students through online classes has increased this capacity, allowing more nursing students to attend each semester. One of the major concerns in any college program, whether in-class or online, is retention of the student. Retention is built on a foundation of community (Angelino, Williams & Natvig, 2007). Online community is built by creating assignments which allow the students to interact with their instructors, other learners and university resources. Instructors have a myriad of online instruments (Electronic Tools: "e-tools") available to deliver their assignments. Each of these e-tools has the ability to deliver the assignment and to create online community. Understanding the potential of individual e-tools, offered by the program (platform), guides instructors to select e-tools for assignments and to create specific relationships. Those relationships include student and instructors (learner-instructor), the student and other students in the classroom (learner-learner) and/or between the student and the university at large (learner-university).
The literature review looked at retention and the development of online community. No literature directly related to the retention of online nursing students or nursing students perception of the e-tools ability to create a community was found. A social science theory combining Identity and Bond theory prevailed as the theory of choice for understanding building a community online with the intent of leading to retention.
No instrument to collect data related to student perceptions of e-tools ability to create a sense of community was found. The Szucs Werner Attachment Survey (SWAS) was created and distributed to nursing students at UNR to uncover their perception of e-tools ability to create connection.
The survey results revealed online students perceived a connection with their instructors and the university, equal to that of nursing students attending class. However, students attending on campus (in-class) had a stronger connection to other students. When asked about their perception of ability for e-tools (learner-e-tool) and technology (learner-technology) to create a sense of community; the online students agreed that both did and the in-class students only perceived technology as having an impact.
0710: Educational technology
0727: Curriculum development