While it is always useful to know where to find good-quality educational material online, for those wishing to gain professional credentials, something rather more formal and structured is required. Although it will likely be some time before we can accurately assess the true impact of the international COVID-19 lockdowns on education between 2020 and 2021, one innovation that gathered considerable momentum during this fraught time was the widespread pivot to online learning in schools, colleges and universities.
For some education providers, this turn to remote learning was hardly a novelty. Long before the pandemic, establishments like Wilkes University, for example, had already been offering entire degrees and other professional academic credentials online to a huge array of students living far away from its campus in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.
Learning, including prized professional academic qualifications like the Wilkes ABSN (Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing), is provided to students remotely via meticulously crafted and fully-accredited online courses, many of them blended with real-world clinical placements for hands-on training experience.
In the remote learning courses offered by providers like Wilkes, it is possible to discern the contours of how the teaching and delivery of professional nursing courses have changed for the better. Great efforts are made to cater to the needs of online students, most of whom are already managing demanding family and full-time employment commitments before they start. They’re not in a position to adopt the learning style of on-campus students by following the set timetables of the traditional academic year with its fixed start dates, vacation breaks and lecture/seminar slots.
The solution comes in the form of ingenious flexibility in delivery, with no compromise on the rigor and quality of the online course content. Just as in a campus-based program, the content of online teaching is crafted and taught by recognized experts in their field.
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Students enjoy significant flexibility
Although the online ABSN does require full-time commitment and includes essential clinical placements in assorted specialties to put formal learning into real-world practice, it is delivered by the best providers in a way that allows remote students to fulfill their existing employment and family commitments – and study flexibly in their spare time.
The learning content is available 24 hours a day, allowing students to access it by fitting it in around their existing professional and personal schedules. Equally flexible are the mentoring/tutorial and faculty member support offerings for online students, each of whom will typically be allocated a dedicated clinical placement specialist to find a suitably high-quality setting within a maximum of 125 miles from a student’s location.
Because the academics and clinicians who create and deliver these courses are mindful of the burden such full-time study commitments impose, online degree courses like this, although concentrated, are often significantly shortened in overall duration compared to their on-campus equivalents. At Wilkes, for example, remote students can complete their ABSN studies, with clinical placements, within 12 months.
In short, the days of ensuring that you are available at a set time for an online lecture or tutorial have been superseded by flexibly delivered online content accessible around the busiest of schedules. Although it may be a tiring experience at times that demands sustained self-discipline, it is a price many see as well worth paying for a recognized high-quality degree that sets those who graduate on a new and deeply fulfilling career path.