Reflections on roles

3f89b0deda70afc67ee7d100cabbf522 by owlana, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic License  by  owlana 

On Tuesday,  we had a thought-provoking conversation on roles of the educator in a networked world by Stephen Downes. If you missed this discussion, you may still  access it on the course website ECI831.  There was a emphasis on open learning and learner autonomy. Downes discussed that course content is merely a tool to support learning rather than the object of learning. Learning occurs by engagement and activity within an authentic learning community. Given this perspective, the role of the educator will change. The discussion focused on a variety of roles such as:

  • the learner
  • the collector
  • the alchemist
  • the programmer
  • the salesperson
  • the convener
  • the co-ordinator
  • the designer
  • the coach
  • the agitator
  • the facilitator
  • tech support
  • the moderator
  • the critic
  • the lecturer
  • the demonstrator
  • the mentor
  • the connector
  • the theorizer
  • the sharer
  • the evaluator
  • the bureaucrat

During the discussion I could see myself in these roles at various times. In the role of the learner, as a co-creator of knowledge, learning through sharing of ideas– as a Registered Nurse and clinical instructor I see this as a life-long role as one cannot know everything in healthcare. Since this class has started, I have become a collector. I now live by google reader, have downloaded Evernote on the iPad, and now cannot live without delicious. I am  a coach as I see myself raising the bar and encouraging the third year nursing students to practice at the new graduate level, with this I take the role of facilitator as I keep pushing the students to take on a bit more responsibility as they move up to caring for 4 patients. Each week I am a critic as I take their assignments and review if they have completed all of their research, if they have come up with appropriate nursing diagnoses, understand the reason why the patient is receiving a particular medication or why a specific lab value is out of range. I am becoming better at being a sharer as I am passing links to other sites with nurses on my Facebook group, TechnologyNurse or on Twitter.

As the picture shows above, as nurses we do wear many hats and as nurse educators we seem to just add to that number. Stephen stated that these roles are being blown up and that the role of the teacher will not be the same in ten years…I think that as nurses we are looking and trying to figure out what exactly that will look like. It will definitely be interesting to see what changes come about. A person can always find someone who does not welcome change but I think given the acuity of patients, how much information students need to know to practice safely in our healthcare environment we need people to take on each of these roles and excel. So which role will I focus on? I feel most comfortable as the coach.