All programs in Continuing Nursing Studies are offered by distance education through print-based modules and/or communication technologies such as interactive web-based learning, audio-conferencing and video-conferencing. There are many benefits of learning at a distance, especially for adult students. Its accessibility, particularly for adults whose family, professional and social commitments make it impossible to attend on-site classes, is a major advantage. Distance students can choose when and where they will study and can maintain a flexible study schedule that allows them to continue other important roles in life while performing the role of student.
For many students, distance learning is a new experience. Instead of attending classes 2 or 3 times a week, the student’s home becomes the classroom and the student assumes independence in his/her own learning. Faculty are available as needed by email or telephone to provide guidance and support, to offer explanations concerning the content, and to discuss concerns. Learning materials for the course, which include learning modules, textbooks and additional reading materials, are included in the learning package or online. Therefore, everything the student needs to complete the theory portion of a course is available at home. Success in the course is largely dependent on the student’s initiative and self-direction, study habits, level of motivation, organizational and time-management skills.
Personal life factors, such as work and family responsibilities, social commitments and community involvement, can all affect the amount of time the student will spend on completing program requirements. It is essential that the student evaluate the amount of time spent at all activities and organize or manage time to include at least 8-10 hours per week for completing program requirements. The student should establish a specific study schedule and follow it as closely as possible.
Specific times or “office hours” are available to students to call the program coordinator. Office hours for programs may be found by consulting information regarding specific programs.
Functions of the program coordinator include:
- Establishing a learning contract with students
- Discussing concerns related to program progression
- Providing clarification regarding course content
- Invigilating and correcting examinations of students in the St. John’s area
- Providing ongoing feedback and clarification regarding course material to all students via on-site discussions, telephone & email contact as well as through tele-conference/video-conference communication media
- Acquiring exam invigilators for out-of-town students
- Providing clarification of assignment instructions
- Motivating and assisting students, as needed, in time management
- Initiating contact with students if they have not been in contact with the program facilitator over an extended period of time
- Providing advice and assistance in obtaining additional learning resources
- Selecting preceptors for the clinical portion of courses
- Providing preceptor orientation
- Providing a support system for preceptors
- Collaborating with preceptors regularly regarding students’ clinical progress
- Conducting an exit interview with each student
The support of peers (classmates) is widely recognized for its benefits to the learning experience. Continuing Nursing Studies distance education programs encourage students to maintain ongoing communication with their peers to discuss difficult concepts, share ideas and provide support/encouragement. Courses/programs that offer tele-conferencing/video-conferencing sessions may divide the class into subsets by geographic location or conduct sessions for all students enrolled. The media provides an ideal opportunity to meet and share ideas with fellow classmates.
Names, phone numbers and email addresses of students will be shared with all students on enrollment in courses/programs if individual students are agreeable. Peer interaction provides students with another support system in addition to school and family support.
All students are provided with a program/course package after the registration process is completed. This package includes a program introduction, Student Handbook, reading materials, and textbooks. This should provide students with all the information needed to complete the program/course. The only additional materials are related to specific written assignments and preceptorship if required.