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Studying in an international group

Blog post by Anndra Parviainen, University of Eastern Finland

My love and passion to nursing education ignite me to enrol in a comprehensive nurse educator education program offered by the Erasmus+ funded New Nurse Educator projectEmpowering the Nurse Educators in the Changing World. The study program is aimed for nurse educator candidates to prepare them for their work as nurse educators and to nurse educators to help them maintain their professional competence as nurse educators.

Issues in Future Nurse Education (5ECTS) is one of the study units of this program. Participants of the course were from different countries like Germany, Finland, Malta, Spain, Slovakia, and UK. Coming from Philippines, I realized that even though we came from different countries with different health care systems and culture, we are the same when it comes to the global health challenges and future issues in nursing education that we faced in this time. The most exciting part of the study unit was the intensive collaborative group project on integrating contemporary and future issues in nurse and health professions education in curricula in higher education.

Photo by Gerd Altman, Pixabay

Students were encouraged to form groups and come up with a topic for their collaborative group project during the first online session. The topics of the group projects were: interprofessional education, leadership, competence-based education, and mental health. The Future of Nursing 2020-2030: Charting a Path to Achieve Health Equity highlighted the need to build a broader coalition to increase awareness of nurses’ ability  to play a full role in health professions practice, education, collaboration, and  leadership; the need to continue to make promoting diversity in the nursing workforce a priority; and the need for better data with which to assess and drive progress (National Academies of Sciences Engineering and Medicine, 2021).

My experience working in an international team of learners is very rewarding. I admire the respectful atmosphere during the whole study course. There might be some misunderstandings due to miscommunications and language barrier, but at the end of the day, together we find solutions by communicating and clarifying things that seems to be unclear in a respectful and peaceful way. The uniqueness of every learner and wide array of expertise makes the learning process exciting and enjoyable.

Research evidence shows that collaborative group learning as pedagogical educational approach is effective for preparing students to work collaboratively with one another (Prichard et al., 2006; Sáiz-Manzanares et al., 2020). The impact of working in an international team of learners to my learning have improved my interpersonal skills and communication skills. Our mentors have shown us good example on how to facilitate collaborative learning and this skill is important to me personally as a nurse educator as I can use this approach in facilitating learning to my students. In conclusion, I can say that the course has empowered nurse educators like me by acquiring the updated knowledge and skills regarding the process of learning from multicultural group.

Image by Gordon Johnsson, Pixabay

References

National Academies of Sciences Engineering and Medicine. (2021). The Future of Nursing 2020-2030: Charting a Path to Achieve Health Equity. The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/25982

Prichard, J. S., Bizo, L. A., & Stratford, R. J. (2006). The educational impact of team-skills training: Preparing students to work in groups. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 76(1), 119–140. https://doi.org/10.1348/000709904X24564

Sáiz-Manzanares, M. C., Escolar-Llamazares, M. C., & Arnaiz González, Á. (2020). Effectiveness of Blended Learning in Nursing Education. International journal of environmental research and public health, 17(5), 1589. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17051589

The author of this blog is Anndra Parviainen, a PhD-student form University of Eastern Finland (UEF), Faculty of Health Sciences, Department of Nursing Sciences, Kuopio Campus Finland. Originally, she is from Philippines. She came to Finland to advance her nursing career year 2015. At present, she works as Project Researcher in UEF and as Global Education Designer. Issues related to precision medicine, personalized care, and the integration of genomics in nursing education are her main areas of interest and are also related to her dissertation.

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Just having fun in EleneIP!

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The author of this blog is Johanna Kero, a PhD-student form Tampere University(current) and University of Turku (former). She works as a nurse lecturer in Satakunta University of Applied Science. Her interest is to pilottest different digital learning environments and applications with students. Her motto is: pilots never fail!

Empowering Learning Environments in Nursing Education (EleneIP) –course is a modern and innovative study unit for nurse educators and educator candidates. The study unit originates from an Erasmus+ project over a decade ago (Salminen et al. 2016). Then a two-week intensive face-to-face study unit has been modified and modernized into a hybrid study unit consisting of both interactive and individual online working and a face-to-face intensive week.

The constantly renewing study unit is well established and has gained great popularity among both Finnish and international students. The signature features of the study unit are the warm and inviting international atmosphere and solid evidence base that is constantly reviewed, to maintain high quality and timely research evidence. ELENE-IP gives an opportunity not only to meet international students and nurse lecturers but also  new ideas how to advance nurse education. During the course participants have an opportunity to test many digital learning environments and applications such as Instagram, Reddit, Mentimeter, Powtoon, What’sApp and many others.

As a doctoral candidate of University of Turku, I had a great opportunity to be a part of international EleneIP-course in a role of tutor in autumn 2021.  The year earlier, Covid-19 pandemic forced the ELENE-IP to be organized online but it didn’t matter. It is known that virtual training workshops can provide numerous benefits to learners (Smith et al. 2021) and I agree since the use of digital applications mentioned earlier, even simulations, worked very well as an online workshops.

Students and teachers during ELENE IP 2021 in September 2021. Photo Anna Mäkinen.

In autumn 2021, the EleneIP had biggest number of participants than ever before, about 40. Participants represented 10 different nationalities. What made this year special, was the number of international students, which was boosted by the Erasmus+ funded New Nurse Educator project participation with additional 15 international students. In addition, for the very first time, the intensive week was arranged as a hybrid-model as well, meaning that some of the students completed the study unit fully online whereas others were able to enjoy the hybrid model with face-to-face intensive week. Even though a minority of participants were participating online, the distance-accessibility (Smith et al. 2021) was deemed essential for this international course at this time of pandemic. Online learning can be highly satisfying, increase knowledge and improve engagement to the subject (Kim et al. 2021). Furthermore, both hybrid and online studies can be equally good for students (Ainslie et al. 2021). The online students in ELENE-IP intensive week, were able to participate all education and group works, but they felt occasionally forgotten and invisible. This is something all educators need to remember, when utilizing simultaneous hybrid education. Inclusion of distance students may require just a little bit extra attention but it is worth your while.

As a summary, in my opinion after EleneIP-intensive week my knowledge and expertise of digital teaching increased both in class room and online. If you feel that you need more competence of digital learning and teaching, EleneIP-course is the answer: you learn by doing from both point of views of learner and teacher.

References:

Ainslie, M., Capozzoli, M., & Bragdon, C. (2021). Efficacy of distant curricular models: Comparing hybrid versus online with residency outcomes in nurse practitioner education. Nurse education today, 107, 105146.

Kim S-Y, Kim S-J & Lee S-H. 2021. Effects of Online Learning on Nursing Students in South Korea during COVID-19. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 18(16): 8506

Salminen L, Gustafsson ML, Vilen L, Fuster P, Istomina N & Papastavrou E. 2016. Nurse teacher candidates learned to use social media during the international teacher training course. Nurse Education Today. 36, 354–359.

Smith T.S., Holland A.C., White T., Combs B., Watts P. & Moss J. 2021. A Distance Accessible Education Model: Teaching Skills to Nurse Practitioners. The Journal of Nurse Practitioners 17: 999-1003