Why Do Nurses Hate Online Learning

With devices helping with activities of daily living like learning how to walk, children need a different kind of adult help.

At face value, the words do not suggest a parent who is patently unaware of his children’s degree of technological proficiency. But to understand why this kind of assessment is more indicative of a mentally stupefied parent than of an enlightened one, consider that in the Nursing School class I took, I was inundated with questions as to the purpose of the Internet. More: questions on why some Internet companies censor LGBTQ+ content; in a bid to combat misinformation, the U.S. government issued guidance to hospitals this year banning face-to-face discussions of political positions by doctors. And in a recent essay in The Conversation, a publication of the National Bureau of Economic Research, Neil Bakshi cited a Washington Post article about how nurses seem to have an ideological blind spot with regard to online learning.

So why is this type of training so upsetting? One of the most common—and frequently implicit—interjections from my peers and colleagues at nursing schools was, “How do they know how to use this technology?” Quite simply, because we’ve never taught them. Nurses are experts with faces; they care, no matter what. All too often, they believe in hand to face guidance as the primary source of information and then devolve into a bad-faith internet sceptic.

And it is not.

These providers of online services are, in fact, educators. They are simply providing educational information and training in a new form of interaction to a cohort of learners who haven’t had the benefit of instruction in their lives.

The crux of this problem—even if a teaching medium is only a new model, it is an old necessity—is that the relevance of learning is compromised, because humans require content to be engaging. This is why social media is not simply another channel to share, like, and engage with ideas and content—it has a higher learning mission and a self-serving strain of libertarianism.

Consumers have a choice as to which site to use for learning material; education providers are not in the business of designating sites as the “right” place for learning or “wrong” place for learning. There’s an appropriate place for learning, whether a website, text book, public lecture, or other medium; it’s incumbent upon education providers to offer resources that not only foster scientific reasoning, but also engagement and moderation.

Educational providers are not responsible for the content their customers choose to read; educational providers are responsible for providing a rich and relevant learning environment that gets their customers engaged and to respond. But just as crucial as teaching and learning (not a trait that is innate) is the ability to self-moderate.

In places where people feel that their views are censured—from specific sites to their institution—these users cannot help but feel restricted. They are people with ideas who receive an implicit sense of disapproval from their colleagues for what they believe. This type of response is not only intolerant, it is also a barrier to producing actual learning content.

According to Reuters, access to online learning is not being raised as a priority in hospitals and nursing schools, with only 4 percent of nursing students considering online learning as a viable option.

Is the reason for this lack of interest in online learning and online learning resources a lack of commitment or a fear of failure? These are two different issues, but they share a common language. Education providers should be offering a platform for learning and reflection, in order to produce individuals and a system that can critically evaluate information and acknowledge the need for guidance, transparency, and debate.

Online learning, as part of this effort, should be offering new communication mechanisms that can both enhance learning and concurrently allow a teacher to measure student progress. Students should be able to take advantage of context-sensitive content that is easily searchable and personalized; content that takes into account their context should work regardless of learning styles and where they are in the system.

Essentially, education providers need to understand how to use technology in a way that sustains our ability to question and think critically. But the standards for learning and the dialogues taking place should evolve to take into account new technology and the new demands and circumstances of education. This more adult-centered approach, often referred to as “coeducative” education, is the type of education we need to foster because it reflects inclusivity, access, and responsiveness to the people who are being educated. As a society, we have failed to expand to provide for people of different backgrounds; as a society, we have failed to find a way to expand the curriculum to accommodate the people who need our help most.

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