Emerging Technology in Nursing

I recently attended a symposium in Wellington on Emerging Technology in Healthcare hosted by Health Informatics New Zealand.  I was invited to report on this for Kai Tiaki (New Zeland Nursing Journal).  A condensed / edited version will be published on 15th August 2017.  In the mean time, Health Informatics New Zealand has published the full report on their website with a reference to the Kai Tiaki version.


Vulnerability, openness and honesty are powerful tools in education

​​One of the things that I pride myself in as an educator is openness, honesty and showing my own vulnerability as a teaching tool.

Flashback: The first class I ever taught (In the 1990s) as a brand new teacher and newly qualified in pre-hospital emergency care was to teach first aid qualified adults how to take a BP temperature, pulse and respiration.  As a brand-new teacher, who was yet to build her confidence as an educator, I was focused on trying to know “everything“ in order to prove my worth as a teacher, unfortunately what I didn’t consider was the students, who in reality should have been at the center of my teaching.

Now, with over 20 years experience in teaching (both paid and volunteer) I would love to be able to travel back in time and tell my younger self what I have learnt along the way.

What made me remember my first teaching experience was working with some young people (13 to 18 years) this week, where we were discussing communication styles, needs and processes. I had set up an exercise where students were required to critique the communication in some TEDTalks and chosen one particularly powerful talk with outstanding skills and one where the message was strong but communication skills were less refined.  I started to set up the computer to watch the ted talks and found that I had actually left the text to speech software I have been using turned on. Immediately one of the class asked me why my computer was “talking what I typed”.

One of my strengths is thinking on my feet, adapting to what is in front of me and turning it into a teaching moment, alongside this, I consider myself a confident and experienced teacher who can manage difficult situations in class. However, this one made me hesitate, I thought to myself do I tell them? Do I move on quickly? Do I ignore the comment?

What grounded me was going back to what I consider a fundamental part of my teaching practice – there are no “dumb” questions just opportunities for learning. I stopped the class and explained why I had speech software on my computer and this became the catalyst for a more engaged and in depth conversation around communication, difficulty and abilities.

When reflecting on the situation I remembered my first experience of teaching as the brand-new teacher where, I probably would have moved on and ignored the question.   I compared this to now, where I saw its value as a teachable moment for my students rather than an uncomfortable situation for me.  Interestingly, this conversation allowed me to connect better with these young people, the dynamic changed, it became more about us learning together.  The short video below is of one of the people I was teaching showing me how to use SnapChat.

QR Code scanning for attendance tracking

This post is included in my online education professional portfolio and outlines an intervention using technology to increase attendance and engagement of students in compulsory labs.

Background: 130 students were required to attend 3-4 skill stations, over two days a week for five weeks to learn fundamental skills.  Each day this took six teachers to allow 65 students to rotate between 3-4 skill stations.

Management of attendance became cumbersome using a paper-based system.  This was mainly due to staff inconsistency in taking attendance, staff forgetting to enter data into a spreadsheet or deleting said spreadsheet from a shared drive.

On discussion several problems with this process were identified by my team:  Firstly, some student attendance was sporadic.  For example, several students came to class, signed in and would then leave, while others arrived late and left early.  On investigation, this appeared to be the same students who went on to fail a related assessment point.  The team agreed students needed to engage in these labs as it covered the minimum skills students were required to learn.  We then brainstormed ideas to increase student attendance and began taking attendance at each skill station rather than just at the beginning of the day.

Unfortunately increasing of paper-based attendance tracking became time-consuming and inconsistent amongst staff which meant tracking was difficult.  Therefore I decided that a more streamlined system using technology to manage areas where the risk of data loss was high.

My aim was to develop a system with the following attributes:

  • track the date and time students enter skill stations
  • students become responsible ensuring their attendance is recorded
  • reduce the risk of data loss through transcription errors, inconsistency in the collection of attendance information
  • minimal input (e.g. scan only no typing)
  • scanning can occur on anyinternet-enabled device with a camera

My solution was to use Blackboard (LMS), Google Sheets and Google Forms to track attendance using QR Codes.

QR Scanning Diagram.png.1.png

Initially, the first semester that QR scanning was implemented, the QR code for each student was generated using Google Sheets and this was then emailed to students using mail merge.  While this process worked for me, I felt that this would be too long and complicated for many staff to implement so I investigated other options for QR Code generation.

Suggestions from experts were to get students to generate their own QR Code or get information from their existing student ID card.  The use of student ID cards was problematic as the barcode on this was linked with a unique number (not their student ID number) and we were unable to easily access information linked to this number.

On investigation, I found that Blackboard would allow us to extract some data for each student and generate unique content using this, which meant that we could make a QR code appear on each student’s Blackboard page that included their full name which I could then use to populate a Google Form via the URL.

Students would see a QR code similar to the one pictured in the diagram above and can either print this or bring it to class on their own device.

Requirements for setting up this QR system include a Google Account (or Gmail login), a mobile device (with a camera), a QR scanning App (usually free from app stores) and a platform to distribute QR codes (either mail merge or an LMS).

The following document outlines the process of setting up QR code scanning for attendance using blackboard.

QR Instructions

On reflection, setup using Blackboard is much easier and streamlined than using Google Sheets with mail merge to generate student QR Codes.  Overall using this system has decreased transcription errors in attendance data, revision tracking is built into Google Sheets so the file can not be deleted by accident.  Students are reported to be taking responsibility for attendance tracking and expecting teachers to scan their code when they come to class.   We are now able to track exact date/time students arrived and whether they were present for all stations.

Engaging students using experiential learning (non-technology)

This post is part of my professional education portfolio.  Permission gained from those in photographs to have these published on social media.

There is a constant discussion in my workplace to find more engaging ways of teaching.  I thought I would share some ideas and concepts which have helped me to engage with young people.

While those around me usually hear me promote online, virtual and technology based learning I wanted to let everyone know that choosing the mode of teaching is not limited to online or technology but tailored to content, environment and to engage those you educate.  As my teaching experience grew one of the most important lessons I learned was reading the class and adapting the methods, I use in education to match the needs of those I educate.

In my spare time, I teach 15 to 18-year-old youth on a childcare (babysitters) course and caregivers course and with inspiration from my friends I have implemented experiential learning into this teaching.

The photograph below is of me with two young people I recently taught about Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).  While theory and knowledge around infection control is important experiencing this allows students to put themselves into the situation and reflect on their experience uses all senses and allows for problem-solving.  These students were asked to describe how they felt wearing PPE, identify risks, benefits and risks and relate this to how their patients may feel when they first meet someone wearing PPE.

Another point I would like to mention is that I never stop learning from those around me, while I am a “geek” and love technology, this class explained how to use snap chat and why many teens choose this as their social media platform.

On childcare courses which I teach one of the activities is to learn how to care for a baby.  First thing in the morning I discuss legal requirements for babysitting, and we brainstorm the risks, requirements and discuss neglect.  Soon after this, I issue students with a “baby” (doll) which they must care for eight hours (I am kind – there is one doll between two students).  It is amazing how attached the students become and how much caring I see.  The photograph below shows students learning to bath a baby where students must plan, implement and evaluate this experience.

What I was reminded of from this exercise is trust is an important component in experiential learning, students trust me to guide them, they trust themselves (and give things a go), they trust each other while working in teams.  We as educators set this scene and can build the environment which is most conducive to this.