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A Fully Online Degree Program

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A Fully Online Degree Program
Nursing’s Experience at SUNY Plattsburgh
David Curry and JoAnn Gleeson-Kreig
Presented at CIT 2007
June 1, 2007
What you are here to learn
Meeting the various college and
department requirements to
complete an entire degree
online for distance learners
requires a variety of
technologies for both teaching
and advising. How Plattsburgh
State's Nursing program has
met this challenge will be
discussed.
Objectives
Brief history of Plattsburgh’s distance
learning nursing program
Specific challenges to earning a degree
without setting foot on campus
Engaging and retaining students at a
distance
Faculty needs for success in teaching
and advising
History of Plattsburgh’s Online
Nursing Program
1984 – 425 on-campus nursing majors
and 18 full-time faculty
1985 – 350 on-campus nursing majors.
Planning for RN-to-BSN program begins
1986 – Approval for program received
and first students register on-campus
1987 – First RN students registered at
ACC and faculty commute to teach
Why an Online Nursing
Program?
Nurses with Associates degrees need a
bachelors degree for career advancement
There are clear course differences between
baccalaureate and associate degree programs
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Nursing research, community health, etc
Sociology, developmental psychology, etc
Because they are already nurses, they don’t
require clinical supervision by faculty
Upstate New York is rural and travel for
classes can be challenging
More history – Plattsburgh’s distance
nursing program – the early years
1988 – 125 on-campus nursing majors and
125 RN Option students (PSU and ACC)
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Separate sections of the same RN Option course –
one at Plattsburgh, one at ACC
Five non-tenured faculty not renewed
1990 – to capture more students, PictureTel
grant proposal written and funded.
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Four Community College sites
Single section of same courses via synchronous
ISDN line – 2-way audio-video, 4pm to 9pm
 “Talking heads” and technology problems
Challenges of PictureTel
Not quite full-motion video – choppy on ISDN
Several tenths of a second delay – like talking over a
radio, “over”
While multiple sites were logged on, only the last one
to speak was displayed to the instructor (what were
the others doing?)
Distant students jealous of local students
ISDN was expensive ($200/hr) – got left on one night
Who owned the product? Videotapes were made of
each class to cover equipment problems – were they
destroyed later?
More challenges
Each site required an hourly technician to
boot up and shut down the equipment
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Another expense for 5-12 students/site
For some nursing courses that technician had
to be a nurse – for example, NUR304 Physical
Assessment, classroom with lab skills
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The price of an adjunct but not teaching the
course, just the lab section
More challenges
Graduation requirements – a problem
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http://web.plattsburgh.edu/academics/catalog/file
s/gened.pdf#gened page 50
36 credits from Plattsburgh, exempt from “senior
residency” (30 of last 36)
Transfer 84 credits BUT only 67 from 2-year
colleges (e.g. Associate degree RNs)
Our nursing courses = 28 credits, so 8 more
Plattsburgh credits were needed
 General education courses were the answer, but…
How did Plattsburgh adjust?
While nursing was leading, more programs
were expected to follow, therefore:
1998, Labor/management agreement signed
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http://faculty.plattsburgh.edu/uup/default.asp?go
=242
Terms of agreement are geared to synchronous
delivery of courses to sites with multiple students,
i.e. PictureTel
Rights of faculty teaching distance courses and
flexibility for campus were protected by agreement
What happened next?
PictureTel becomes increasingly expensive to
support
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Equipment upgrades needed
Fewer students/site/course as students
graduate and cohorts fragment
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Difficult to maintain 15-20 students/course
Other possible sites developed
2003, Campus decided to go asynchronous
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Transition to SUNY Learning Network planned
SLN training scheduled for Nursing faculty
And then?
SLN provided excellent classes re.
Online pedagogy, but then,
Campus decides to go with ANGEL
Faculty must transition again, though
not as challenging as going online
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Most of SLN training very relevant
So here we are – not so brief, huh?
Throughout it all…
Recruitment and retention – separate but
equal
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A critical support service with travel
пЃ· Travel first to classroom sites, later to sites with potential
students e.g. hospitals, etc.
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Person must be knowledgeable about program
and campus requirements
пЃ· Not necessarily a faculty member, though sometimes
done by chairperson
пЃ· Nurse is a plus, but not necessary either
Student Advising
The biggest challenge
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Adult learners, most working parents, with
obligations and high expectations
Meeting the campus graduation requirements
without errors
Finding general education courses, or required
science courses, “online”
 Art course from North Carolina – correspondence
пЃ· 4-credit Chemistry course from Maine
пЃ· Nutrition courses several places (but not Plattsburgh until
last year)
Teaching challenges
Physical assessment – a lab course
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Currently using a DVD of skills and students
practice on their own then come to campus for
practical exam
Management and Leadership and Community
Health – clinical courses with local preceptors
needed
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Finding the preceptors can be challenging
Chat sessions needed for students to share
experiences
Teaching challenges
Professional Issues – a Gen Ed course
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“Oral communication skills” – here’s where
the videos come in
“Advanced writing requirement” – several
drafts of written work need evaluation
пЃ· Drafts need to get back and forth in timely
manner – “Track changes” helps a lot!
Student Advising
Advisor must track student progress
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Make sure transcripts arrive and are credited to
the student in Banner
Make sure students know when a needed nursing
course will be offered
Must advise faculty on what courses needed
and how many students to expect
Be the “messenger” that gets shot when a
course or section is cancelled пЃЊ - seriously
About BANNER and ANGEL
Can’t depend on them for tracking students
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If not registered for a course for a semester,
dropped from the major in BANNER
 Off-campus courses don’t count i.e. “Permission to study
off-campus” approvals
пЃ· Students will have a semester with no on-campus course
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ANGEL “sweeps” BANNER for names of students,
therefore, can’t use ANGEL to communicate via
Groups
Advisor must have own processes in place
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Excel, Access, and group email lists
About Communication
Though program online, students may
not be –
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They are issued a campus email address,
but seldom check it
пЃ· Need to be taught how to forward to home
email account (just like faculty пЃЉ)
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Telephone contact is often necessary
Regular mail needed also – newsletter, etc
 Forms available online, but…
Problems with Communication
Distance students don’t hear about all
campus activities
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Honor society activities
Pinning ceremony
Graduation details
Duties assigned to new coordinator
About our students
Most are not ready for cutting-edge
technology
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Remember, they’re adult learners
пЃ· Their children often show them how to
download, file transfer, cut-and-paste, etc
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Some rural students still have dial-up
Most miss the structure of the classroom
Still, they have high expectations (of
both you and themselves)
About the technology
Watch out for “format” problems
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Require written work in .txt or .doc
пЃ· Unless you want one submission in WordPerfect
to challenge you
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When you ask for “video” specify format
 VHS no longer standard – one faculty expected
videotape but got an mpeg and couldn’t view it
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These videos were for campus-wide assessment of
General Education – oops!
Speaking of General Education
Getting Gen Ed courses online can be
challenging
Campus leadership needed, since online
program or department has no leverage
outside their own domain
Showing how many students you refer
elsewhere may get results – may not
Advertising
Word-of-mouth has been our most
important method – plus and minus
Our potential students often work
together
Faculty needs
Computer equipment and skills
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With upgrades, more training
Education for advanced technologies
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More training
Support staff for communication
including mailing of papers, exams, etc
Administrative and union support
Questions? Comments?
Thanks for your attention
Email questions to
curryd@plattsburgh.edu or
gleesojm@plattsburgh.edu
Evaluations are online пЃЉ
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