This blog post is the third in a series of talking about trends in both the field and in adult education based on my recent new studies at VCC.
I connected with my learning partner who's in the field of Nursing and I found our conversation quite fascinating and eye opening. I'm particularly fascinated and grateful to have a learning partner in the field of Nursing because at one point, I went back to school for a second degree in Nursing. I was astonished by the scope and depth a Nurse needs to learn and understand, and I also began to see the reality of the role. At the time, I made the choice to leave Nursing—though that experience forever changed my perception of the Nursing profession - leaving me with a high respect for the gravity of work and responsibility a Nurse endures.
So, in speaking to my learning partner - I saw this at an escalated rate, especially with the recent events of Covid and the toll that has taken on Nurses, and the trends she reported in the field of Nursing.
The main trends have been major burnout and quitting en mass. Many people are leaving the profession after forced overtime, forced increase in patient load, and forced to be in different units than one is trained for. For example an OR Nurse being forced into ICU who is not equipped to dispense drugs or the duties of ICU but due to nursing shortages would be forced to the ICU when the need was great during Covid. This created more work for the charge nurses and regular ICU nurses who now had to also train these nurses while also taking care of an overload of patients. This paints a picture that is just the tip of the iceberg of the gravity of stress placed upon Nurses during Covid.
Additionally, the overabundance of sick and dying people in the ICU took a toll on mental and emotional health. After all—although Nurses are overworked beyond human capacity, they are humans and not robots. With that comes emotional heartache when seeing so much death around you - more than is typical to see which is what Covid brought into the experience of the lives of Nurses.
As explained by my learning partner: What became clear is that Canada's Health Care System is broken and Nurses feel it is clear that the BC Health Authority does not care about nurses. They don't care about the individuals, they simply see nurses as bodies to do the job. This is devastating. No wonder there is a trend to mass exodus in the Nursing Profession.
Additionally, as BC sees this problem emerging, they are opening more seats in the Nursing Programs at Colleges and Universities. However the problem is a shortage of Nursing Instructors due to the overall sense of burnout.
Despite the burnout, my learning partner said something along the lines of "At the heart of it, I still care about the nursing profession, and I'd like to teach the new nurses about the core values of empathy and the humanistic side to Nursing." The unfortunate problem rests in the government's lack of support to ensure nurses are supported.
On another note, in speaking with my learning partner we also spoke about the trends in adult education, and we both saw a trend towards an increase of online learning, along with an increase in the trend of hybrid education. For example, in Nursing this means the theoretical concepts are taught online while the hands-on application happens in the classroom. This hybrid model is also used in Spa Therapy programs at the College I teach for, and I can see it being a helpful learning approach across many modalities.
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According to a recent blog post written by Bernard Marr at Forbes: https://www.forbes.com/sites/bernardmarr/2022/02/18/the-five-biggest-education-and-training-technology-trends-in-2022/?sh=2be843a32f4d the trends in adult education show a heightened increase in online education. This is certainly a trend catapulted by Covid 19 where even Universities and Colleges were forced online.
However this was already an emerging trend, it's simply that covid catalyzed the rate by which this was occurring.
The 5 main takeaways from the Forbes articles are:
1. An increase of education moving online. I've already witnessed this at the College I work for. Before Covid this was a completely on-ground educational institution. Covid shifted the landscape of the school where the entire curriculum went online, even subjects that at one point seemed they could only be held in person. This required innovative thinking, creative leadership, openness, and adaptability from instructors and students.
2. Learning is extending beyond high school and college. Although for our grandparents generation and even likely our parent generation most education happened pretty early in life, today, the rate by which technology changes, ongoing trainings and education is required in order to keep up, and learning is really a lifelong process.
Additionally, I find many people enrol in education programs for their own personal development and not always just to get a job. In the field of mind body wellness, I believe this is an advantage, as it shows that people care about enhancing their lives.
3. There are new immersive intelligence trainings that simulate environments to support the training process such as with surgeons and firefighters (Forbes, 2022). I think this is brilliant and an effective way to strengthen the learning process. I think if this was brought into the various fields of mind-body wellness, that it would serve students-in-training in their confidence as they build their skill in working with individuals and groups in their chosen area of expertise.
4. An emerging trend of artificial intelligence includes an ability for things such as grading papers. This I find a bit unnerving as I don't feel any robot can have the human connection that cares when grading a student's paper. It seems to take the soul out of it. I guess it does depend a bit on the subject matter. I am not really a fan of this trend. However I can see how it helps logistically when it comes to time, especially as teachers are rarely compensated for the time they put into grading.
5. Another emerging trend is called nano-learning - learning in bite sized chunks. I can see the benefit here of clear focused learning. And, I can see this playing into the epidemic of increasing low-attention spans and expectation of instant gratification. I am not sure if this is effective in the long run, however I might be biased coming from a time where it was expected to read whole textbooks for every course.
Overall, the implications of these trends in the coming years, and the preparation required will be an overall sense of adaptability and willingness to remain open and learn. Already with the move to online education it has required swift adaptability to learn zoom classroom, online learning platforms such as Moodle to post course content, assignments, and tests, as well as learning online softwares for grading. As the field and technology continues to develop it will require instructors to remain adaptable to learning new and emerging technologies and online platforms that may enhance the overall learning experience for learners.
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