Lisa Shustack, EdD., MSN, MSEd., RN
Assistant Professor, Director of Undergraduate Nursing
We’ve all been there. Sitting through a lecture with never-ending PowerPoint slides filled with copious information, listening to the lecturer read every word. The description alone of that very familiar classroom situation is painful, yet, as educators, we continue to prepare our lectures in that exact manner. It’s time for a change. Effective instruction includes understanding that effectively sharing information is just as important as having significant information to share. Since PowerPoint has been the status quo of presenting lectures for more than twenty years, it is not unusual that nurse educators have fallen victim to this standard method of lecturing. Fortunately, there are new and innovative web-based tools that are beginning to challenge PowerPoint and can invigorate lectures and engage students in course content!
Using innovative online tools to present lecture material has many benefits including creativity, convenience, and flexibility. Exploring how these tools can be implemented in a class environment allows educators to shift the way we use a visual medium to communicate with our students. Additionally, when used properly, these tools serve to supplement the live presenter and highlight the most significant information. Finding a balance between lecture content and lecture design is a skill which comes with trial and error. Do not be afraid! PowerPoint provides a sense of security knowing that it will be there to keep the presenter on track with bullet points and slide numbers. However, the students filling our nursing classrooms today are true digital natives requiring nurse educators to rethink how we deliver instructional content.
Beginning the construction of an innovative and engaging presentation starts with identifying what content is the most important to share. Once that is identified, then the fun can begin! The following tools are a launching point for nurse educators to explore and get their feet wet.
Smore – Interactive Newsletter
Although this sounds like a delicious chocolatey treat, it is actually a little more fun – in the nurse educator sense. The interactive poster allows educators to create an interesting infographic of the content being presented. Nurse educators can import images, hyperlinks to online resources, videos, and more. Following use during lecture, nurse educators can share the electronic newsletter via email or on social media. Another fantastic feature of a Smore newsletter are the analytics which allow the nurse educator to view how much time was spent viewing the newsletter or watching embedded videos.
Glogster – A Multimedia Poster
Glogster allows educators to create multimedia infused digital posters for use during lecture. Educators creating a Glogster poster for a class lecture can link and upload videos, insert images, add color text, and insert audio clips. Students have the ability to save each digital poster and view it from an app on their smartphone or electronic tablet. The benefit of creating an individual multimedia poster for each lecture during a semester is that it allows the student to view the entire picture of the class content in one place rather than scrolling through multiple PowerPoint slides and hundreds of bullet points.
Padlet – Digital Sticky Notes
If you have ever taught a class that involved brainstorming or sharing of ideas in the form of writing items on the whiteboard, then you already have a good understanding of what Padlet has to offer, plus more. Padlet provides the educator with a blank digital canvas where an unlimited number of digital notes can be posted on the wall. Interactive URLs, images, and links to audio and video can all be posted virtually onto the class discussion digital wall. The digital wall can be both interactive and collaborative. Students can rearrange the notes on the wall and can also add their own content, notes or ideas. This makes it a great site for aggregating ideas as well as information following the end of the class lecture. What a great way for students to continue the class conversation after leaving the lecture hall!
Still not sure? Try these alternatives!
So, you still are not sure if you can break away from the security of having an organized, bulleted slide with your lecture material to keep you on track during class. No worries, there are still other digital options that you can implement into your class that will help to engage students and energize learning.
Prezi – More Than Just PowerPoint
One of the closest digital platforms to PowerPoint is Prezi. Prezi is a digital presentation software which has more interactive functionality as compared to PowerPoint. Prezi allows the presenter to move fluidly through lecture concepts without the constraints of a slide after slide presentation. A well-constructed Prezi can show students the entire concept of the lecture on one screen and then enables them to click on specific items to learn more. Eliminating the need to scroll through multiple slides to find specific information can help students learn individual parts of the lecture piece by piece and individually adjusted the lecture to meet their learning needs.
Still not convinced? Okay, keep PowerPoint but engage students!
Perhaps you are looking for a way to keep PowerPont slides while still engaging students in your class lectures. The following can provide a means for digital class discussions in a back channel, private area.
Backchannel Chat –Ask Questions. Participate. Collaborate.
Have you ever been inundated with students coming forward to ask questions after lecture and left to wonder why they did not ask these great questions during class so everyone could hear the response? Backchannel Chat can help to solve that issue. Backchannel Chat allows educators to create a private back channel that can be used as a collaborative means for discussing and documenting classroom interactions. Back channels are communication boards that students and educators can use to converse in real time. It is an excellent way to lead a class discussion in a virtual space during lecture. Backchannel Chat provides the students with the opportunity to be a part of the conversation. Students who are not comfortable raising their hands may be willing to share comments in a classroom chat. This method of student engagement during class can allow all student voices to be heard. Faculty always have the role of the moderator and provides guidance and prodding to students as needed.
Educators Must Explore In Order to Engage
As you can see, there are so many wonderful digital tools that can help to engage nursing students, enhance learning, and make your classrooms interesting and interactive. These few suggestions have just touched upon the many digital tools that are transforming how educators teach and students learn. At this point, it is up to you to dive in, explore what is available, be fearless, and give something different a try. Be inspired and reenergize your class and your students! Explore on nurse educators, explore on!