Sparking Timely Communication for Learning Innovation in Online Doctoral Nursing Students

Concurrent Session 6
Streamed Session Leadership

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Session Materials

Brief Abstract

Online graduate nursing programs have increased over the past decade.  Busy healthcare professionals are required to complete major projects during the program.  Obstacles and crises often develop in the student’s practice settings with faculty guidance needed toward possible solutions.  This session explores communication innovation during expected and unexpected coronavirus times.

Extended Abstract

Graduate students often seek online programs to flexibly manage their time among family, work, and school responsibilities.  As a result, online programs have grown exponentially over the past decade (American Association of Colleges of Nursing, 2019; Digital Learning Compass, 2017).  Autonomous learners are not always prepared for the challenges in this learning format.  Communication in multiple formats becomes paramount. Best practice has identified timely, quality feedback, and cultural sensitivity to support students (Deshpande, 2019; Kumar & Coe, 2017). 

This lightening session will introduce participants to two major examples utilized to engage the student in learning and improved problem-solving.  In this well-established university, post-master’s clinical doctoral nursing students identify a problem in their clinical work setting.  The students are diverse culturally and in their healthcare roles as nurse practitioners, nurse anesthetists, administrators, educators.  Practice settings may be corporate, acute care hospitals, community clinics, long-term care facilities, and schools. 

First, as part of the Doctor of Nursing Practice program, the students independently conduct research for interventions to change and improve the problem.  Beside standard online assignments and readings, the use of periodic, customized faculty-student telecommunications during certain courses are conducted during a 30 minute session to augment student success.  Direct dialogue can facilitate critical and analytic thinking.  Examples of this format and outcomes will be shared during the presentation.  

Second, the impact of crises on these projects and its online students around the country are discussed. Crises, particularly the unprecedented coronavirus pandemic, presented opportunities for unexpected learning.  This session will include the innovation utilizing an experiential Discussion Forum with students promoted further real-time learning.

Attendees will learn new applications in online and communication approaches to handle experienced graduate students and work setting problems.  Although this student population involved healthcare professionals, the information and discussion can be utilized in other disciplines.  The goal of this presentation is to assist faculty, supervisors, and co-workers on the usefulness and innovation from timely communication. 

The final 5 minutes of the session will engage attendees to discuss obstacles and crises in their disciplines and work settings. How do you reach or connect with your students – particularly when they are online, graduate students working fulltime?  How are problems handled in your organization?   How could you employ the underlying principles in these examples to innovate or improve problems?  The presenter will serve as the facilitator to engage attendees in the discussion. 


American Association of Colleges of Nursing (2019).  Fact sheet:  The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP).  Retrieved from

Deshpande, A. (2017).  Faculty best practices to support students in the ‘virtual doctoral land’, Higher Education for the Future, 4(1), 12-30.

Digital Learning Compass (2017).  Distance Education Enrollment Report 2017.  Retrieved from

Kumar, S. & Coe, C. (2017).  Mentoring and student support in online doctoral programs.  American Journal of Distance Education, 31(2), 128-142.