March 31, 2000

VUSN partnership paves way for on-line courses

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The Nursing School’s Dean Colleen Conway-Welch, Ph.D. (center), and Mindy Schuster chatted with HealthStream’s Michael Pote during this week’s luncheon announcing the partnership. (photo by Dana Johnson)

VUSN partnership paves way for on-line courses

The Vanderbilt University School of Nursing has been awarded at $50,000 grant to create a distance-learning laboratory that will deliver instructional strategies and electronic resources to better serve its students, faculty and alumni.

The funds, provided by HealthStream, a leading source of on-line health care education, will allow VUSN to pursue the development of on-line educational programming.

"This is a great example of an academic and industry partnership, which we will see more of in the future," said Colleen Conway-Welch, Ph.D., dean of the School of Nursing, professor of Nursing.

"I am excited about VUSN's relationship with HealthStream. This will allow us to expand our resources and create an incubator where we can experiment with the best practices in teaching, learning and nursing including how to effectively and efficiently translate academic content into web-based learning packages."

Conway-Welch said this project will strengthen VUSN's resources, knowledge and skill base in information technology.

"It will enhance the learning of both on-site and distance students, increase our students' comfort with technology, increase the employability of our graduates, and provide life-long learning to our alumni. It will also allow us to deliver a better product to HealthStream's Continuing Education library."

Nurses seeking credit for continuing education will be able to obtain the courses via the Internet. Traditionally, nurses attended classes or workshops that involved time off from work. Under this program, nurses will be able to access nursing continuing education courses on office and home computers.

This partnership also helps support the School of Nursing's initiative to increase enrollment of registered nurses in its Masters of Science in Nursing program.

"The major reason given by RNs for not enrolling full time is that they can not give up their employment and relocate in order to be full-time students," Conway-Welch said. "The delivery of gradate-level courses on the Web, using high-quality instructional strategies, will enable many RNs to obtain their Masters of Science in Nursing degree, while maintaining their employment status and benefits."

The partnership will result in:

• Documentation of the best instructional strategies in terms of testing and course management for teaching nursing via the Internet;

• Guidelines for effective course development;

• Prototypes and tools for implementing these strategies employing adaptive reuse of the best practices in areas of need in nursing education;

• Review and analysis of existing Web technology including courseware products;

• Development of scenarios for testing and course management applicable to VUSN's teaching methods.

"Every school and university throughout the country is trying to figure out what the Web means to its academic programs," Conway-Welch said. "The results will also be scalable disciplines."

VUSN's partnership with HealthStream places the school on the cutting edge of meeting the academic and continuing education needs of nurses locally, regionally and internationally, Conway-Welch said.

HealthStream delivers healthcare providers and Web sites a comprehensive library and infrastructure for delivering and managing healthcare education over the Internet.