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iPad Initiative

Nurses use iPads in simulation and clinical setting.

While currently in its fourth year of student implementation at the University of Cincinnati (UC) College of Nursing, the iCoN initiative — the innovation of nursing education through the creative leveraging of iPads — has earned the college a two-year recognition as an Apple Distinguished Program for the 2014-16 academic years.

In March of 2012, faculty members began utilizing iPads for research, grading, communication and classroom purposes. In the fall of 2013, all incoming BSN sophomores and Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) students used iPads to access course materials.

This gradual process of integrating iPads into the educational experience allowed the college to build infrastructure and community around the initiative. In the fall of 2014, the College of Nursing required its first-, second- and third-year nursing students to purchase iPads, as well as students in the DNP and adult acute care nursing practitioner post-master’s certificate programs.

In November of 2014, the college received the Apple Distinguished Program recognition for leadership, innovation and educational excellence.

During the student roll-out, faculty members used iBooks Author to convert existing lecture presentations into Multi-Touch books. After a licensing agreement in June of 2014 with a company called BookWidgets, quizzes, case studies and other multimedia aspects could be embedded into the lectures, allowing for a richer student experience.

“The Multi-Touch books on iPad serve as not only the lecture material, but also the pre-class preparation and study materials, and then those are delivered through iTunes U courses,” says Melanie Bauer, director of instructional design. 

Though nursing students are still required to submit assignments through Blackboard — the university’s learning management system — the iTunes U courses deliver course content and lecture materials, which include Multi-Touch books, to the students’ iPads.

“One of my favorite aspects of using iPads is how convenient it is to access all the material provided through iTunes U and Blackboard no matter where I am, whether it be at-home studying or a quick last minute cram session before an exam,” says Adam Herrmann, a second-year BSN student. “Using the iPads in class has made jumping back and forth between different topics a breeze, which in turn makes it even easier to find the information you need while in class.”

The College of Nursing’s strategic vision to transform health care through the creative leveraging of technology provided the initiative’s platform of innovating nursing education through the implementation of iPad devices, Rota says.

Upon arriving to the college, Greer Glazer, RN, CNP, PhD, FAAN, dean, worked collaboratively with the college’s faculty, staff and students to construct the college’s vision and mission. This collaborative footprint enabled the college to successfully create and execute the iCoN initiative, Rota says.

The college’s technology department, instructional design department and faculty combined its technological, pedagogical and content expertise to utilize the TPCK (Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge) model. The collaboration of these three entities enables the college to successfully redesign and innovate its education.

Aside from fostering innovation, the iCoN initiative creates a vast array of benefits for students and faculty alike, which are far greater than the obvious convenience of condensing all resource books into one electronic device that contains internet capabilities.

“When used as an interactive teaching tool, the iCoN initiative allows a student to serve as teacher and learner,” says Yvette Pryse, PhD, RN, associate professor of clinical nursing and executive director of undergraduate studies.

“The student is engaged in the learning experience as a full partner in the design and direction of the learning experience, where the faculty serve as a guide and facilitator, versus the traditional lecture mode as the only teaching strategy,” Pryse says.

After never having even touched an iPad and then being a part of a student class piloting the iPad, second-year DNP student Erin Schaeffer says she is delighted the College of Nursing received the recognition.

“There was a huge learning curve, but CATER was always available to help,” Schaeffer says. “I fully understand how difficult it was to implement many of these programs, try them out and see how they worked with the students. A few iPad apps did not fit the concepts we were looking for, but most did. We learned through trial and error what worked.”

Schaeffer says the iCoN initiative has greatly improved her technological capabilities. “The implementation of the iPad initiative has forced me to understand technology in a way I never knew existed or fully understood,” Schaeffer says. “I can now upload to YouTube, utilize iCloud, store information on an outside source, voiceover presentations and media, the list goes on and on.”

To further increase students’ learning, iPad provides students access to educational apps that support faculty created assignments. “The apps that have been provided to us, such as the Nursing Central app, have been an instrumental part in helping me finish my coursework in a timely manner with sources that I know I can rely on,” Herrmann says.

The iCoN initiative provides students a streamlined system of learning and enhances the overall structure of relaying information between faculty and students, Herrmann says. The iPads also encourage students to collaborate with one another and faculty alike, he adds.

Building community has been integral to this. “iPad does something different. You see faculty jumping in to help each other in ways that are new, students helping each other in ways they didn’t before,” Day says. “People get excited to share what they know about the iPad. It makes it more fun.”

iPad additionally enhances faculty’s abilities to interact with students while simultaneously enhancing students’ learning. “I think iPad was the catalyst toward increasing the college’s use of active learning in the classroom,” Bauer says. “It’s the tool that enables the faculty to envision what could be done in the classroom aside from a typical three-hour lecture.”

iPad allows faculty to individualize a course and assist in deepening knowledge by imbedding interactive teaching strategies, which are created in collaboration with instructional design. It also provides the opportunity to conduct secure, paperless in-class examinations designed to provide immediate feedback to students and faculty.

Melissa Willmarth-Stec, DNP, APRN, CNM, associate professor of clinical nursing and DNP program director, says incorporating iPads into the curriculum allowed her to completely rethink how she delivers course content to students. “This technology takes writing paper and participating in discussion boards and changes the student experience. Students learn real world applications that then are reflected in career long outcomes,” Willmarth-Stec says. “We don’t simply do academic exercises to integrate concepts. Instead, we teach, integrate and apply concepts using iPads that can then span the course of a student’s career.”

As faculty become accustomed to the iPad and develop a skillset for its ability to innovate education, the use of iPad as a teaching tool will become the norm at the College of Nursing, Pryse says.

“We’re not only implementing a program, we’re also evaluating it,” Rota says. “We’re working very hard to make sure what we’re implementing is achieving what we want it to achieve.”

The College of Nursing will continue striving to be “iCoNs” for what innovative nursing looks like. “Nursing has always been a blend of art and science,” says Glazer. “This continues to ring true. Just as stethoscopes, X-rays and digital devices have proven that technology can improve health care outcomes, we feel iPads can be used to enhance nursing student learning outcomes.”

“Our end goal is to graduate nurse leaders who are critical thinkers and confident with technology so that they are able to seamlessly access the tools they need without losing sight of what is most important—the patient,” says Glazer.

Interested in learning more?

The college’s book, which documents the iCoN journey, has been featured as a Success Story in iTunes U. You'll learn about the vision, the model behind our success, and the positive outcomes that are happening in the learning environment. 

Read about our incredible journey in innovative learning here.