Author: Anne Jarvis – Senior Lecturer in the School of Sport and Health Sciences at UCLan

This account details my experience of utilising Teams to develop appropriate transferrable skills in a neuroscience nurse cohort in higher education.

Challenge:

The main challenges within my working sphere of nurse education were the following;

Nurses embarking upon continuing professional development (CPD) were enduring the harshest of environments. There was mandatory requirement from the governing body to update (Nursing & Midwifery Council, (NMC) 2016) along with a lack of support in terms of funding or time given to do so (Royal College of Nursing, (RCN) 2018).

Nursing management were reluctant to relinquish staff from the specialist unit all at once because of the impact upon ability to provide quality nursing care on minimum staff numbers, ironic when it could be argued that a lack of CPD for nurse would also directly impact upon nursing care as a result of a less than optimum and contemporary knowledge base (RCN, 2019).

Alongside these nursing issues was also the awareness of our changing health environments with the coming of the digital age. Health care has already seen the increased efficiency of tertiary systems and associated care delivery as a result of digital innovations such as that used in the storage of patient data (Donaldson, 2018). Indeed, at the same time, more widely and generally, digital capability was seen as suffering a shortfall of the necessary requirements with a projection of ninety per cent of jobs forecast to demand digital ability whilst only a fraction of adults (25%) possess these fundamental skills (Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, 2017). Ultimately, there seemed to be a real necessity for our nursing workforce to be ready for digital changes within the workplace or ‘digi-ready’ (Jarvis, 2019).

Solution:

The solution seemed to come in the form of Microsoft Teams – was it possible that this platform could not only allow a course that comprised some remote study relieving the issue of the release of staff to attend the university, but also it might facilitate nurses to engage with digital tools and realise their competence and capability in this arena. A Teams platform was built that included educational resources and guided study in addition to interactive discursive feedback mechanisms. The online group engaged cautiously initially nevertheless, allowing students to interact with both tutor and peers and giving a sense of belonging to an online learning community even though students were geographically separated. Students engaged in weekly studies directed by the facilitator/tutor and in their own time and at their own pace immersed themselves in the resources provided by Teams. With a theme of learning and sharing, its medium supported students through module assessment group support and feedback following draft submissions to Teams. Students could access Teams on a smart phone or laptop device by merely downloading the application. The tutor was the manager of the Team governing access to the group alone, organising resources and directing student study.

In an early poll, the students were asked ‘How are you finding using the Teams app so far?’ Responses are detailed below;

29% Loving it

71% Looks interesting

Impact:

The students embraced the Teams platform reluctantly initially but then realising its benefits and flexibility, they became more impressed with it with the passage of time. The platform allowed direct discussion between individual students about practice which encouraged the theme of learning and sharing within the module of study. It also allowed peer review of posted work together with group supervision from tutor to whole group in relation to a piece of work or resource. It was user friendly for the students, it’s portability meaning contributions might be posted any time, even in the middle of a night shift.

As student expertise and competence with this digital platform grew, this promoted a virtual professional community of learners able to connect and learn from each other despite their physical remoteness from each other. The portability of Teams meant that the collaborative space was encouraged and inadvertently this encouraged digital competence. Users could post their own work and also comment or like the work of others. The private chat function could also be engaged by students if necessary, to speak privately with the tutor.

Flexibility of access to CPD programmes was enhanced; users were able to access support from both tutor and peers alongside reviewing educational resources posted to the Team by the tutor/facilitator. This allowed an extension of the professional working environment, provided by a professional version of the many social media platforms that we now know. The very nature of Teams promoted the development of professionally required characteristics such as integrity, leadership, respect, appreciation of the contribution of colleagues and other professionally recognised standards of behaviour as set out by the nursing code (NMC, 2019). Ultimately, Teams facilitated the preservation of safe and effective clinical practice through the sharing of best evidence, the enhancement of knowledge and the recognition of digital capability.

Teams has proved itself to be a valuable asset in the growing toolkit of digital resources that support education and learning, digital competence and professional development.

References:

Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy. Industrial Strategy: building a Britain fit for the future. (2017) http://tinyurl.com/y3xg4tra (accessed 10 January 2020)

Donaldson, I. Delivering the digital future. (2018) British Journal of Nursing.  27(19) 1136. (accessed 10 January 2020) https://www.magonlinelibrary.com/doi/abs/10.12968/bjon.2018.27.19.1136

Jarvis, A. Reflecting on technology-enabled learning in neuroscience nurse education. (2019) British Journal of Neuroscience Nursing. 15(4) 190-193.

Nursing & Midwifery Council Revalidation: your step by step guide through the process. (2016) http://revalidation.nmc.org.uk (accessed 10 January 2020).

Royal College of Nursing. Investing in a safe and effective workforce: continuing professional development for nurses in the UK. (2018) https://tinyurl.com/y8ue7dte (accessed 10 January 2020).


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