Local college uses technology to create new learning environment

Nursing simulator is first step

LIBERTY, Mo. - You expect to find the latest technology in the hands of college students. But at one local campus, the administration is putting technology in the classroom to enhance the learning experience.

The campus of William Jewell College looks old fashioned and sedate. But here they've started a 21st century initiative to integrate technology into the classroom.

The nursing program is the first to benefit.

In what looks like a hospital room, a group of students is learning to use a scanner system to identify patients and track their medications. Correct patient identification is the first and most important thing in nursing, they are told by an instructor.

"From my clinical experience it's also the kind of system that they're using in the hospitals so that we're already getting kind of familiar with the technology," said junior nursing student Amber Reynolds.

It looks like a patient is in the bed, but it's a simulated patient. It arrived in August, so these students are the first to experience it's variety of symptoms from shakes to coughs. It's portable and programmable to simulate almost any situation.

"In this area where there are so many nursing schools, we are vying for clinical spots, places at hospitals to send our students, and so we can give them more experience here at Jewell with our simulator," said Jan Huster, a clinical instructor.

"That's the biggest thing in nursing school is the experience that you get," agreed senior nursing student Katlyn Spohn.

That experience should give them a leg up in the job market.

Jan Witzke is an Assistant Professor of Nursing. She pursued the grant that paid for the simulator.

"It's really bringing things to life for them in the classroom," she said.

And if that sounds a little like gaming, that's no coincidence.

"Today's student learns differently, they do, they get simulation in a way that I think, 20 years ago people would feel awkward about what do you mean 'I want to role play'? These kids role play all the time," said Dr. Anne Dema, Provost of William Jewell.

Dema said research is beginning to support the idea that students today learn better when information is visualized and experience is simulated, as opposed to simply textual analysis.

She asserts it's more than cool and fun gadgets.

"What we've found is we have a new tool to teach critical thinking," she said.

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