Online Nursing Courses:
Pros and Cons

Online nursing courses provide an opportunity to offer unique learning experiences for both instructor and student. Below, an experienced professor answers frequently asked questions about online nursing courses.

By Daryle Wane PhD, ARNP, FNP-BC
Professor of Nursing at Pasco-Hernando Community College in Florida

Because the learning platform in online courses is continuously available, there is the potential not only for an increase in the level of learning interaction but for a stronger bond to emerge between instructor and student.

Sometimes the anonymity of the keyboard allows for individuals to be more open in their approaches to learning information. This article will address some common components of online instructional methods from an instructor perspective.

How do you structure your online nursing courses differently from those you teach in-person?

  • Because the majority of courses are now considered blended or hybrid in nature, teaching has decidedly changed with respect to the confines of the classroom environment.
  • When teaching courses that are totally online, the content and material must be accessible and interactive. In classroom setting, learning environments have more limitations and structural issues related to time and space than the online learning environment.
  • Material presented in a classroom setting must meet the confines of that restricted space and as such is more finite in nature. One can still provide a range of teaching variations in class but the amount of interaction time is limited.
What expectations do you have of your online students (skills, technology, etc.)?
  • Online students should be well versed in computer technology methods.
  • Accessing, downloading, and uploading materials are paramount to integrating information. Knowledge of communication methods is essential in mastering course performance objectives.
  • Students should check into the course at least twice a week, if not more, to get the best possible interaction effect.
Are online courses any cheaper than traditional courses?
  • The cost of educational courses has increased for the majority of students attending college. Fees and costs associated with the delivery of online courses may be different than traditional classroom courses.
  • The value of a college class is not measured by its cost but by what it provides to the student in terms of a successful learning environment.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of online nursing courses?

  • Advantages relate to increased interaction and the availability to directly link and/or reference information.
  • Feedback is provided through a communication network that can be archived, allowing for integration of knowledge.
  • Disadvantages of teaching online nursing courses relate to the potential for technology glitches as well as sluggish submission interactions. Because the course is offered 24/7, there is the possibility that links can break down and/or site pages not be available due to technology glitches.
  • Additionally, sluggish submissions on the part of students waiting to the last minute to meet deadlines can cause additional stress.
How do you interact with your students in an online course?
  • Communication is essential. Reaching out to all students using interactive methods is the key.
  • Recognizing student achievements is also essential. While most students associate teacher interactions with poor performance and/or constructive criticism, it is equally important if not more important to offer a communication about a job well done. It is all too easy to accentuate deficits; I would rather reflect and encourage strength.

View Daryle Wane's biography here.

Learn about associate degree nursing online school programs here.

An experienced educator and student shares her views on the best online nursing schools here.

And you can learn from a student (and experienced nursing professor) about an RN to BSN online program here.

Go to the Distance Learning Pros Home Page from Online Nursing Courses