Insights from the Field: Online Nursing Education in Higher Ed


OLC Institute for Professional Development

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The Online Learning Consortium (OLC) is reaching out to our global community of thought leaders, faculty, innovators, and practitioners to bring you insights from the field of online, blended, and digital learning. This week, Joanne Serembus, OLC Institute faculty for the Online Nursing Mastery Series, joins us to answer our questions about online nursing education.

OLC:  There are many opportunities to teach online. Why do you choose OLC and which Institute course(s) do you teach for OLC?

I chose OLC because it is the premier leader in online learning, particularly in higher education. Their support of professional development is unparalleled. I will be facilitating the Online Nursing Mastery Series that starts on August 14, 2019.

OLC: What are the 3 most important things prospective participants should know about the upcoming Mastery Series? 

  1. The program is intensive and requires a lot of work, but I will assist learners by guiding them through each step of the process.
  2. Participants will learn a great deal about engaging online learners and the many technology tools and teaching strategies that can be used for this purpose.
  3. The content they will learn is the most current and evidence-based.

OLC: How do you define innovation?

In its simplest terms, innovation is defined as a new idea, method, or device. In nursing education, we are seeing innovation shifting learning from content driven to content creation.

OLC: Where is online nursing education heading in the next five years?

Predictions for nursing education show an increase in adaptive quizzing and testing, virtual simulations, and virtual reality. Looking to the crystal ball of the future, I see wearable technology as the forefront for online education, particularly in nursing. Smart watches changed this landscape several years ago with the apps that nurses and students can use at the bedside for patient care and just-in-time teaching. 

Virtual reality headsets that take students into a 3-D world are just beginning to take off, but if you want to think truly futuristic, consider Muse. Muse is a brain sensing headband that uses 7 sensors to track brain signals. This tool could provide faculty with data showing student reaction to learning and giving suggestions for when students are not paying attention. What a great way to improve student engagement!

OLC: What current research or projects are you engaged in that relates to online nursing education?

I am currently involved in an international research study titled, The Use of Text-based versus Video Discussions to Promote a Sense of Community with Online Students. The following article was just published in April: 

Serembus, J. F., & Riccio, P. A. (2019). The relationship between student engagement and outcomes for online MSN students. Journal of Nursing Education, 58(4), 207-213.doi:10.3928/01484834-20190321-04

OLC: What was the last book, journal, or article you read that relates to this field? 

Teaching Online, 4th Edition by Susan Ko and Steve Rossen


Joanne Serembus has been teaching in the online environment since 2004. She first used a blended format when teaching undergraduate nursing students, and in 2006, used a fully online format when teaching graduate nursing students. She has been an educator in the academic setting for 30 years. 

Currently, Joanne is an Associate Clinical Professor at Drexel University and teaches fully online in their MSN Program. In 2015, she was awarded the College of Nursing & Health Professions Online Teaching Excellence Award. She is proud to say that she is Certified in Online Learning through the Online Learning Consortium and is a Quality Matters Peer Reviewer. She has conducted research and published in the area of online learning in nursing education. Joanne lives in West Chester, Pennsylvania with her dog Tucker and enjoys gardening. Additionally, she enjoys going to the theater and the Philly Pops.

Joanne has a diploma in nursing from Thomas Jefferson University Hospital School of Nursing; a BSN from La Salle University in Philadelphia; a MSN in Critical Care Nursing from the University of Pennsylvania; an EdD in Higher Education and Leadership from Widener University and finally, a Certificate in the Neuroscience of Learning and Online Instruction from Drexel University.

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