Taking some stress out of Online Course Development

Nona Brack, BSN professor, VIU

Nona Brack is a professor in VIU's Nursing program.

October 28, 2020 - 6:30am

Kathleen Bortolin and Anwen Burk, both Curriculum, Teaching and Learning Specialists in the Centre for Innovation and Excellence in Learning, produce a podcast called the Share Drive, which is all about sharing inspiring, helpful, interesting strategies, stories and tips from VIU’s own faculty members for creating a fantastic online classroom. Their latest episode is an energizing interview with Bachelor of Nursing Professor Nona Brack.

Despite the fact that the move to online is only about six months old, Brack has already transformed three different types of classes into this new environment – a theory, a practical course, and a skills course. Each course required the acquisition of new technical skills, but as Brack describes, she had to be open to explore the different possibilities.   

She goes into detail about how she adjusted these courses to the new environment, while keeping the learning outcomes for students top of mind. For each course, it was a process of trial and error and discovery.

Brack and her colleague identified values that drove the development of an intersession practical course. Usually this course sees students receive eight weeks of practical experience; in this new approach it was shifted to four weeks of online study. These values were:

  • Community: We will build a learning community that is respectfully supportive of everyone’s learning.
  • Connection: The Zoom classroom will facilitate learning and connection that will work toward the course learning outcomes.
  • Capacity: Online sessions, discussions and postings will help everyone develop their abilities and meet competencies and capacities to be a self-directed life-long learner.
  • Coaching: Guide students towards the resources and activities for flexible learning goals that students have identified.

This helped Brack stay focused on what mattered most - ensuring student success. It was accompanied with a lot of practice before class time in using Zoom, which allowed them to become proficient with the technology.

Another point Brack highlights in the podcast is the importance of being open to new ways to deliver the course.

“I believe that technology is fun,” Brack says.

She acknowledges there is a lot of trial and error, but that adapting to new technologies is something students will spend a lifetime doing in their nursing careers. She has found that there are also other benefits to using technology as it can create space for students who might not speak up much in class and opportunities for leadership not present in a traditional classroom setting. Listen to the podcast to learn more about how Brack has approached this new way of teaching.


Tags: Teaching and Learning