For several years I was encouraged by peers to look into distance learning as an alternative to the traditional classroom education. I had not considered this possibility because face-to-face instruction was ingrained in my thinking. I told myself that I would not be focused or disciplined enough to do online learning. Being a passive learner for so long, listening to lectures and someone telling me what to learn through papers, exams, or assignments was what I know. Furthermore, lacking the understanding of being an active participant in my own learning made it difficult to become a self-directed learner. After reading, researching, and asking questions, I concluded that lifelong learning is the self-motivated pursuit of knowledge. That is to say, learning goes beyond the classroom and takes place throughout life in a range of situations. So, I decided to take a look into distance learning to continue my academic and professional advancement. Distance learning was attractive because I was unable to access a brick and mortar institution at the time.
I recall, when I started to look at universities that offered distance learning, how apprehensive I was about doing online education. Some of my concerns were the structure and process of online learning, the timeliness of faculty feedback, instructor availability to answer questions, provide advice, and assist with understanding the content of the course. I was also concerned about being a poor typist and having to write posts, research articles, utilize school web-based services, and having limited computer knowledge/skills. Other concerns dealt with the technical aspects of online learning and the overall quality of the learning experience. So, I did a thorough research of online education and asked questions of the different universities that I interviewed.
I found through researching that distance education was a viable alternative to the traditional face-to-face classroom methods of preparing nurses. I also discovered that it has the advantage of not being limited to a set time or space. The growth of technological advances over the last few decades has led to an accumulation of available knowledge. It is therefore inevitable that more of an online approach to delivering education via distance learning was going to happen. A number of research studies reveal that distance education, specifically online learning, is expanding and the future of this teaching and learning platform seems bright. Advancements with new tools such as simulation, virtual environments, digital libraries, and media elements make learning and collaboration unbounded by geographical location. Considering that twenty years ago teaching was focused on lecture sessions lasting several hours and was complemented by overhead projectors, handouts, or PowerPoint slides; today’s teaching and learning environment has grown by leaps and bounds. The traditional way of preparing nurses for practice has also been identified as an issue in nursing education because of multifarious problems; such as content saturated courses which leave students frustrated and overwhelmed by excessive reading assignments, content processing, and memorization. A goal of contemporary education is to transform learners into self-directed, proactive learners.