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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.

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a fully online degree program

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
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.

  • 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
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
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
    • 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
More history – Plattsburgh’s distance nursing program – the early years
  • 1988 – 125 on-campus nursing majors and 125 RN Option students (PSU and ACC)
    • 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.
    • 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
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
More challenges
  • Each site required an hourly technician to boot up and shut down the equipment
    • 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
    • The price of an adjunct but not teaching the course, just the lab section
more challenges1
More challenges
  • Graduation requirements – a problem
    • http://web.plattsburgh.edu/academics/catalog/files/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
How did Plattsburgh adjust?
  • While nursing was leading, more programs were expected to follow, therefore:
  • 1998, Labor/management agreement signed
    • 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
What happened next?
  • PictureTel becomes increasingly expensive to support
    • Equipment upgrades needed
  • Fewer students/site/course as students graduate and cohorts fragment
    • Difficult to maintain 15-20 students/course
    • Other possible sites developed
  • 2003, Campus decided to go asynchronous
    • Transition to SUNY Learning Network planned
    • SLN training scheduled for Nursing faculty
and then
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
    • Most of SLN training very relevant
  • So here we are – not so brief, huh?
throughout it all
Throughout it all…
  • Recruitment and retention – separate but equal
    • A critical support service with travel
      • Travel first to classroom sites, later to sites with potential students e.g. hospitals, etc.
    • Person must be knowledgeable about program and campus requirements
      • Not necessarily a faculty member, though sometimes done by chairperson
      • Nurse is a plus, but not necessary either
student advising
Student Advising
  • The biggest challenge
    • 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
      • 4-credit Chemistry course from Maine
      • Nutrition courses several places (but not Plattsburgh until last year)
teaching challenges
Teaching challenges
  • Physical assessment – a lab course
    • 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
    • Finding the preceptors can be challenging
    • Chat sessions needed for students to share experiences
teaching challenges1
Teaching challenges
  • Professional Issues – a Gen Ed course
    • “Oral communication skills”– here’s where the videos come in
    • “Advanced writing requirement”– several drafts of written work need evaluation
      • Drafts need to get back and forth in timely manner –“Track changes” helps a lot!
student advising1
Student Advising
  • Advisor must track student progress
    • 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  - seriously
about banner and angel
  • Can’t depend on them for tracking students
    • 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
      • Students will have a semester with no on-campus course
    • ANGEL “sweeps” BANNER for names of students, therefore, can’t use ANGEL to communicate via Groups
  • Advisor must have own processes in place
    • Excel, Access, and group email lists
about communication
About Communication
  • Though program online, students may not be –
    • They are issued a campus email address, but seldom check it
      • Need to be taught how to forward to home email account (just like faculty )
    • Telephone contact is often necessary
    • Regular mail needed also – newsletter, etc
      • Forms available online, but…
problems with communication
Problems with Communication
  • Distance students don’t hear about all campus activities
    • Honor society activities
    • Pinning ceremony
    • Graduation details
  • Duties assigned to new coordinator
about our students
About our students
  • Most are not ready for cutting-edge technology
    • Remember, they’re adult learners
      • Their children often show them how to download, file transfer, cut-and-paste, etc
    • 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
About the technology
  • Watch out for “format” problems
    • Require written work in .txt or .doc
      • Unless you want one submission in WordPerfect to challenge you
    • When you ask for “video” specify format
      • VHS no longer standard – one faculty expected videotape but got an mpeg and couldn’t view it
        • These videos were for campus-wide assessment of General Education – oops!
speaking of general education
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
  • Word-of-mouth has been our most important method – plus and minus
  • Our potential students often work together
faculty needs
Faculty needs
  • Computer equipment and skills
    • With upgrades, more training
  • Education for advanced technologies
    • More training
  • Support staff for communication including mailing of papers, exams, etc
  • Administrative and union support
questions comments
Questions? Comments?
  • Thanks for your attention
  • Email questions to

curryd@plattsburgh.edu or


Evaluations are online 