Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Online Course Design Tools

I worked with a colleague for about 5 hours yesterday on the design and edits for an online Oncology Nurse Navigator course which will begin at the end of January. My colleague is teaching the course.  I assist her by providing technical support for students, covering instruction  in her absence, and providing course design assistance.  We expect an enrollment of 15 students, all who are experienced registered nurses and work in cancer care settings.

We discussed strategies to assist students to be successful in the course without any face-to-face meetings.  The last time we taught the course we did have a couple face-to-face meetings.  We recognize that it may not be possible for the students to meet face-to-face because of their work schedules or because they live at a distance (several applicants are from out-of-state).  Below are some of the topics that we discussed that might be helpful to other instructors.

Strategies for Designing and Editing an Online Course
  • Use OpenOffice to create the learning content as html documents.  Rationale:  OpenOffice has the "look and feel" of Microsoft Word, but it generates much cleaner html code that is easily edited in Blackboard and other learning management systems.  Graphics can be copied/pasted into an OpenOffice document and the software will automatically save the graphic in an html compatible format with a name similar to that of the document.
  • Develop a file structure naming process that uses numbers.  If the learning mangement system alphabetizes files, like Blackboard, the structured naming system makes it a snap to add the files to a learning module.  The file naming process that I use is noted below, although I abbreviate the words to Intro, Assign, and Assess.
    • 1_Introduction
    • 1a_Objectives_Assignments
    • 1b_Assessment
    • 2_Introduction
    • 2a_Objectives_Assignments
    • 2b_Assessment
  • Use WebDav to synchronize files.  Create a link to the online course in My Network Places and synchronize files from the course folder on the computer with the files in the online course.  I always have a mirror image of my course files offline.
Strategies for Working with Students Online
  • Include an orientation module to the learning management system as the first learning module.
  • Use information from a Computer Survey (see the previous blog) to identify students who may need additional assistance with technology issues.
  • Provide online orientation and other instructor support with webinar software.  (Note: Our university does not have webinar software available, so we discussed using DimDim).
  • Show students how to use PowerPoint with narration for class presentations (Another blog).
Other topics that we discussed and practiced using included a computer video camera to provide the personal touch to online instruction.  We also dicussed the use of Microsoft OneNote software for screen captures and other notes.  The comparable software solution that is free is Evernote ( (Yet, another blog). 

Computer Literacy Survey

I created a computer literacy survey that I use in my online and hybrid (meet both face-to-face and online) courses.  I will attach the survey to this blog as a Word document.  Instructors and others are welcome to use it.  Instructors could adapt it for their courses to obtain a baseline assessment of the students' computer literacy skills.

Students and others could use it as a self-assessment tool.  The survey has instructional value in that it assists the learner to identify key information about their computer.  You are welcome to download and adapt the survey for your personal use from

The survey is written for the PC, but if you are interested in having one created for the Mac computer, just ask.

As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Updates on the Informatics and Nursing textbook web site

The textbook support web site at has been updated to include many of the informatics listserve conversation topics.  The updates are noted below.

The issue of mobile computer carts and battery life remains a hot topic!  Batterystuff. A tutorial on all kinds of batteries supports information that in Chapter 2.

If you are don't have a basic understanding about batteries, you may want to begin with the How Stuff Works web site at  and
Wikipedia on batteries. A very thorough explanation including estimates of length of discharge and life expectancy of various types.

Review Site for the ANCC Informatics Certification Exam
Certification in Nursing Informatics was developed by graduate and post-graduate nursing informatics students at Duke University School of Nursing . IThe topics addressed are Systems Life Cycle, Human Factors, Information Technology, Information Knowledge Management, Practice Trend Issues,  Models & Theories. 

Secondary Use of Data
Transforming healthcare through secondary use of health data. A 40 page 2009 report by Price-Waterhouse Coopers. You may need to register name etc., but the report is free. Presents an excellent case for secondary data use, includes guidelines. This information supplements Chapter 10.

Personal Health Records
Proceedings of the Post Conference of NI 2009 Reports on Personal Health Records. This compendium is a full treatise on many of the issues surrounding personal health records. Highly recommended. This information supplements information in Chapter 14.

Meaningful Use
I anticipate the the topic of meaningful use will continue to be a very hot topic in 2010!  Meaningful Use and Beyond is a presentation by James C. Larson Dec 4, 2009 at the Northern Ohio Health Information Management Systems Society Fall Conference. This pdf file (MUandBeyond) provides an update, plus some of the objectives and support information in Chapter 21.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

New Issue of the JOLT journal

Ed Perry, one of the editors for JOLT emailed information about the December 2009 issue.  JOLT is an open-access journal published by MERLOT (Multimedia Educational Resources for Learning and Online Teaching)   I included a copy of his email below.  The journal article quality is excellent!

"The December 2009 issue of the Journal of Online Learning and Teaching (JOLT) is now online with the contents listed below. In this issue you will find 14 articles concerned with various aspects of online learning and teaching.

We hope you will find several articles of interest and that you will forward this notice to colleagues who might also be interested in JOLT"

JOLT CONTENTS – December 2009

  •  Online Teaching Experience: A Qualitative Metasynthesis (QMS) - Jennie De Gagne and Kelley Walters
  • Using the Online Learning Environment to Develop Real-Life Collaboration and Knowledge-Sharing Skills: A Theoretical Discussion and Framework for Online Course Design- Lisl Zach and Denise E. Agosto
  • Impact of Video Tutorials in an Online Educational Statistics Course- Thomas A. DeVaney
  • Perceptions of Interactions in Online Courses- Doreen Gosmire, Marcia Morrison, and Joanne Van Osdel
  • The Impact of a Web-based Homework Tool in University Algebra Courses on Student Learning and Strategies- Angela Hodge, Jennifer C. Richardson, and Cindy S. York
  • An Online Math Problem Solving System for Middle School Students Who are Blind- Carole R. Beal and Erin Shaw
  • Exploring the Potential and Perceptions of Social Networking Systems in University Courses- John D. Ophus and Jason T. Abbitt
  • An Application of Contemporary Learning Theory to Online Course Textbook Selection- Gregory Mostyn
  • The Self-assessment of English Language Student-teachers’ Contributions to Online Discussion Forums- Phillip A. Towndrow
  • Connecting Students Globally Through Video-Conference Pedagogy- Alyssa J. O’Brien and Christine L. Alfano
  • The Benefits of Face-to-Face Interaction in the Online Freshman Composition Course- Samuel B Howard
  • Are College Students Prepared for a Technology-Rich Learning Environment- Victoria Ratliff
  • The Narrative Case Study Meets Hypertext: Case Studies in the Digital Age- Meghan Griffin
  • Promoting Online Collaborative Social Learning Communities with Student Response Systems- Kathleen Klein

Facebook and Security Issues

Facebook (FB) security issues have been in the news recently.  The topic peaked my interest because I have been a victim of Facebook spam.  As an example, I recieved two wall postings (identical) from friends (see figure below). 

I have been so consumed with grading and finalizing courses for fall semester, that I had not checked by FB page until I was double-checking security settings.  I did notice the Remove button and quickly removed the postings.  The last time my FB was spammed was in the FB email.

FB displayed a pop-up window with information about security this morning (see figure below).

All of us who are FB users should take a few minutes to educate themselves about social networking security.  Start with reading the FB Guide to security at

PC World has an excellent article entitled Protect your Privacy on Facebook and Twitter in the  December 2009 issue.  It is available online at

Finally, I noted a CNET article this morning about FB suing three men under three laws: the Can-Spam (Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing) Act, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, and the California Anti-Phishing Act and the California Computer Data Access and Fraud Act. One of the accused had a company name of Choko Systems and another had a company named Harm.  Clearly, the company names were advertising the malicious motives.  The article is online at

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Cloud Computing

Information technology (IT) continues to rapidly change.  I read a news story on CNET about Microsoft cloud computing this morning.  Linda reminded me that information on cloud computing needs to be included in the 4th edition of our textbook.  That term makes me smile because of a comment from one of the grad students, CM, who said that IT terminology was baffling because it often uses terms we know in very different ways.  Cloud computing is one of those terms.

Cloud computing refers to the ability to use an application that does not reside on your local computer.  This blog is an example.  Other examples include Gmail, Hotmail, Google docs, Zoho Office. Some applications, like Zoho, allow for purchase of selected applications. 

To get a better understanding, you may find it helpful to view a YouTube video, such as

and/or visit How Stuff Works at

Although cloud computing has been around for several years, many IT gurus suggest that it will be the wave of the future and save money.  Businesses and education should benefit from the use of cloud computing, but certainly, companies would not be in the business of developing cloud computing if it did not mean increased revenues.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Update on Free Online Webinar Service

Late yesterday afternoon, students in one of my online informatics classes met for face-to-face presentations.  One of the students had to work and was not able to come to campus, but joined us virtually using the DimDim webinar web site.

Earlier in the day I scheduled the webinar to begin at 4 PM and emailed the distant student the URL for the Webinar site.  She logged into the class when she got home and was able to watch all of the PowerPoint presentations and hear the classroom discussion audio with DimDim.  She used the chat feature to make comments to the students after each presentation.

She had narrated her presentation using PowerPoint and emailed the file ahead of time for presentation during the face-to-face class. 

The students did an awesome job with their projects and presentations!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Personal Health Record (PHR) Report Card

The Patient Privacy Rights group released a report card on five PHRs:

  • CapMed-icePHR
  • Google Health
  • Microsoft Health Vault
  • No More Clipboard
  • WebMD
  • PHRs offered by employers/insurers

You can read the report card at

This information supplements chapter 14.

Excel Tools & Templates for Quality Initiatives

The ASQ (American Society for Quality) provides many free Excel tools and templates for quality initiatives in nursing and healthcare. Examples include:

  • FMEA (Failure mode & effects analysis)
  • Fishbone diagram (Cause & effect)
  • Flowchart template
  • Gantt chart
  • Pareto chart
  • Histogram
  • Scatter diagram

Each tool/template includes instructions, an example, information about the particular tool, and links to additional learning resources about quality. The quality tools and templates can be used for learning activities to supplement chapter 9 on spreadsheets, chapter 24 on administration, and chapter 25 on research. The tools reference The Quality Toolbox, Second Edition, ASQ Quality Press, 2004 by Nancy R. Tague.

Thanks to TJ for sharing!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Meaningful Use for Health Information Technology

Meaningful Use and Beyond ( is a presentation by James C. Larson given on Dec 4, 2009 at the Northern Ohio Health Information Management Systems Society Fall Conference. This PDF file of the presentation slides (MUandBeyond) provides an update, plus some of the objectives and measure for Meaningful Use as it relates to health information technology. Hyperlinks to the Health and Human Services web site at are noted in the presentation.

This information was added to the textbook website ( to supplement Chapter 21, Healthcare Systems Issues.

E-Prescribing: Boon or Bain?

Note: This entry was written by my co-author, Linda Thede, for this blog. It addresses "unintended consequences" resulting from use of technology. The technical and process issues discussed are relevant to principles of database concepts.

The U.S. government has been pushing e-prescribing as a way to reduce medication errors by eliminating the problems with handwritten prescriptions. There is a tendency to equate e-prescribing with computerized provider order entry (CPOE). CPOE, although not perfect, when it is a part of a coordinated electronic healthcare system, has been shown to reduce medication errors from many causes including, poor handwriting, bad drug interactions, and the wrong dosage.

E-prescribing, however, is NOT CPOE. Nor, to date is there much evidence of its role in reducing medication errors. There are many e-prescribing vendors, but the percentage of physician participants is low. This is despite the fact that the federal government is going to reward its use. The differences between CPOE and e-prescribing are worth noting.



Is part of an overall electronic system with access to the patient's healthcare record

A stand alone system.

The agency creating the CPOE can verify that all parts of the system work together, e.g., drug allergies, drug interaction problems can be averted.

No connection with any patient information.

Maintained by the same group. Quality can be reinforced and appropriate training as well as
remediation provided when needed.

The provider has no control over either what the pharmacist sees when s/he sends the prescription, or the training the pharmacist receives.
As things stand today there are technical and process issues. We are all familiar with the difficulties when two disparate electronic systems try to communicate. If there are differences in the field names or length, information may be either lost or truncated. Formularies differ so that what is ordered may not be what is received. Additionally, patient information about when and how to take can be lost.

When a healthcare provider writes a prescription he expects that the pharmacist will see what is written, whether it is sent as a piece of paper, or with e-prescribing. Unfortunately, with the latter method, this is not always so. Additionally, give a list of drugs and dosages, it is too easy for a provider to select the wrong one. The pharmacist, not having any information to the contrary, would then fill what he or she sees on their screen, which may not be what the provider intended. With a poorly written prescription, the pharmacist can see that there is a problem and contact the physician. The patient, who may have read the prescription, can provide a secondary review.

In e-prescribing, a prescription must be sent to a specific pharmacy, not just a chain. If either the healthcare provider accidentally clicks the wrong pharmacy, or the customer goes to a different pharmacy, the prescription must be tracked down, which at 10PM may be impossible. Interestingly, in Canada, the prescription is sent to a central database and whichever pharmacy the customer goes to retrieves it from that database.

To my knowledge, Ohio is the only state that has made an attempt to regulate the vendors of e-prescribing to try and alleviate some of the above problems. Under Ohio law the Ohio Board of Pharmacy must approve not only the vendor, but also the receiving pharmacy. They also perform verification of both the sent and received messages to determine if there are mistakes, or missing pieces.

This information is based on the presentation "E-prescribing: New Source of Medication Errors ?" by Timothy R Lanese at the Northern Ohio Health Information Management Systems Society Fall Conference on Friday, December 4, 2009 at Embassy Suites, Independence, Ohio. The presentation slides may be found at

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Google Voice

I finally received approval for Google Voice (GV) today (first request was about 4 weeks ago). In a nutshell, Google Voice provides the user with a couple of options –
  • Use their own phone number with several custom options
  • Use a Google phone number which can ring other phones (eg, home, office, mobile)
I chose the latter option. I have a Google phone number which can ring other personal phones. There are several custom options including alternative answering phone messages and selection of phones to ring. The product is still in the testing mode. As an example, GV was initially unable to successfully ring my home phone number the first couple of times that I tried.  It did work with my office phone!

When a person leaves voice mail, you receive an "interpreted" copy of the audio as a text file.  This is where you have to have a sense of humor and perhaps a little imagination!!  The voice to text is not perfect.  If you miss a phone call, the message is sent to your phone voice mail and a text interpretation of the audio is located in your google voice web site.

One of the upsides is that GV displays all call information from a web page which looks similar to gmail (inbox, history, spam, trash, etc) – see figure below.

According to the web – Microsoft will be offering a comparative product, Bing Ring, in January 2010 ( ).

Creating an Excel Chart with a Double Axis

My students are always challenging me and exceeding my expectations in the process. After asking the students to create a combination bar and line chart using Excel, TJ created an awesome chart with a double axis. She gave me permission to share on this blog. Note that the left axis shows the number of falls or pressure ulcers and the right axis shows a comparison with the percent of RNs.
Do learn how to replicate this chart, use the Help button in Excel and search for Secondary Vertical Axis.

Exporting Citations to Zotero from a Digital Library

Had this email request after the Writing for Publication workshop on Thursday -

"hi - I've forgotten a step in saving to ZOTERO.
I downloaded foxfire, ZOTERO, and the WORD plug-in.
I went to GALILEO, found an article , and checked it in folder view.
I see the ZOTERO bar in the lower right of my screen.
I can't remember what to do next.

(Note: Although this example uses CINAHL with Fulltext from EBSCOHost in the Galileo database, it should work with other digital library databases)
Make sure that you are accessing the digital library using the Firefox web browser.

Open the folder view of the articles that you saved.
Click the Select All box and then click the last icon on the left – Export

On the next window, click the Save button (keep the default – Direct Export to EndNote, ProCite….)

Click on the word Zotero in the bottom-right of the Firefox web browser. You should see all of citations for the articles that you selected in the digital library.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Using Nested Formulas to Calculate a GPA with Excel

I received an email request from a former colleague this week and am posting part of the email with her permission.

"I love your textbook!  I think we'll be using it for our BSN informatics course!!

On another note - I'm pulling my hair out on making a GPA spreadsheet like we used at ___!  I'm going gray over this.  Could you help me out please?  I'll be eternally grateful. :-)"

What she is asking is how to create formulas in Excel to calculate a GPA. Although the formulas may initially look intimidating, they are fairly straightforward. The formulas use If/Then statements. The formulas are based upon the A, B, C, D, F grading scale, where A is worth 4, B is worth 3, C is worth 2, D is worth 1, and F is worth 0 quality points.

My answer is noted below. I will also attach a spreadsheet with the formulas. Note that the formulas below are nested meaning that each one includes several arguments, that is, one for each grade.

Quality PTs
College Composition I

=IF(D2="A",C2,IF(D2="B",C2,IF(D2="C",C2,IF(D2="D",C2,IF(D2="F",C2," ")))))

The formula above in Cell E2 is for quality points.  What it says is that if D2 (Grade) is "A", E2 (Quality Points) is the same value as C2 (Credits) - same for "B", "C", "D", and "F".

The formula above in Cell F2 is if D2 (Grade) is "A", multiply 4 times E2 (Quality Points),  - same for "B", "C", "D", and "F" except "B" = 3, "C" = 2, "D" = 1, and "F" =0.

The letter grades are in parenthesis to tell Excel that the letter is a text field.

To download a copy of the spreadsheet, go to

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Downloading eBooks to the iPhone Using Google Books and Stanza Software

I am doing the final preparation for a Writing for Publication workshop this week.  I discovered that I can download some free eBooks, such as Florence Nightingale's Notes on Nursing and Isabel Hampton Robb's Nursing.  What wonderful resources for courses such as Introduction to Nursing!! 

I wanted to see ways that faculty and students could take an advantage of the eBooks, using a desktop, laptop, PDA, or Smartphone.  I had downloaded Stanza software for the desktop a few weeks ago.  I was able to save the e-book to may iPhone.  This particular feature makes Stanza software superior to Kindle (which can only access books on the Amazon web site) in my opinion.  Stanza software is able to use many file formats (See figure below).

Google books allowed me to save the Nightingale and Hampton Robb books as PDF and ePub file formats.  I chose ePub (Open eBook) for the download.  The steps for transferring the eBook from the computer to the iPhone are noted below.
  1. Open Stanza desktop>File>Open menu and selected the eBook from where it is saved.
  2. Go to Stanza Tools and make sure that Enable Sharing is selected.
  3. Connect the iPhone to the computer or make sure that it is connected to the same wireless network as the computer with Stanza desktop.
  4. Open Stanza on the iPhone.
  5. From the library menu, select Shared Books>Your computer's name.
  6. One the desktop computer, grant permission to share the book.
  7. Select the book you want to download.
 The entire process took only a couple of minutes and was really easy to do.  The information on how to download eBooks from Stanza is on the software Frequently Asked Questions.

PS - Google Books does have information about copyright and how to avoid copyright infringement.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Telehealth and Stroke Management

I read an interesting news story this morning in Healthcare IT about how the Swedish Medical Center in Seattle, Washington uses telehealth to manage stroke care.  The story is at

The medical center connects to remote areas of the state of Washington to link stroke specialists with patients using GCI ConnectMD services ( ).  The equipment allows remote facilities to transfer CTs of the head with HIPAA compliancy.  The patient outcome goal is to minimize neurologic damage from the stroke.

Podcasting and the Future of Digital Audio

A Forrester(R) research report (2005) projected that by next year (2010), 20.1 million households will use satellite radio and 12.3 million will listen to podcasts that they have synchronized to their MP3 players.  It will be interesting to discover the "real" numbers in just a couple of months. The Future of Digital Audio report is available from,7211,36428,00.html . Registration (free) is required access and download the report.

The availability of podcasts on the Internet is amazing.  Students in my NRSG 6121 class took an advantage of podcasts to address knowledge needs regarding how a computer works.  The students were all issued a iPod at the beginning of the semester with a microphone for recording audio and encouraged to create podcasts.  They shared findings from their searches in the iTunes store for medical and nursing educational podcasts.  Observing their excitement about the value of podcasts for eductational purposes has been wonderful!

Health Information Technology Automation of Quality Measurement: Quality Data Set and Data Flow

Tracy, who works in quality, shared the update from the Health Information Expert Panel: Health Information Technology Automation of Quality Measurement: Quality Data Set (QDS)  and Data Flow.  An executive summary of the report (22 pages) which is available as a PDF (Adobe Reader) download is at
The QDS provides common language for quality measure used in resources such as:
  • Electronic health records (EHRs)
  • Personal health records (PHRs)
  • Registries
  • Health information exchanges (HIEs)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Online and Mobile Tools that Empower the Chronically Ill to Manage Their Care

Linda shared a wonderful resource, Participatory Health: Online and Mobile Tools Help Chronically Ill Manage Care, that discusses the development of online and mobile tools that can help individuals manage their chronic conditions.  The 27-page PDF (Adobe Reader) file was developed by the California Healthcare Foundation and is available at

Included are examples of computer applications that have been successfully used in chronic care beginning on page 10. The tools were categorized as:
  • Health video games
  • Medication management
  • The "other" medical home
  • Diabetes care
  • Weight management 
  • Wellness
Examples are provided for each of the categories.  It is an interesting read.
(Added to Chapter 22 on the textbook  web site at )

Sarasohn-Kahn, J. (2009, September). "Participatory Health: Online and Mobile Tools Help Chronically Ill Manage Care. Retrieved from

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Health Data Privacy

Linda shared a web site that addresses issues associated with health data privacy.  The site is the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) at  The web site has comprehensive information on privacy policy issues.  Examples of policy issues include the Google Books, Facebook, and Cloud Computing. The URL was added to our textbook web site at

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Creating a Combination Column & Line Chart

In healthcare we often want to compare data from different sources to see if there is any type of relationship; for example, comparing staffing with patient outcomes.  An activity for the Thede & Sewell Informatics and Nursing textbook, chapter 24, asks the learner to create a chart that compares the number of patient falls and pressure ulcers with staffing using the percentage of registered nurses. The mixed type of chart is not addressed in the textbook and may pose as a challenging task.  The task is easier than it might appear. It is a two step process.

If using Excel 2007
  1. Highlight the entire chart and then select the Column Chart type.
  2. Right-click on the Percentage of Registered Nurses column and select Change Series Chart Type from the menu - and select Line with Markers
The resulting chart should like like the graphic below.

A website at may be helpful for earlier versions of Excel.

Informatics and Nursing on Facebook

Informatics & Nursing is now a new Facebook group.  Consider joining!  To find the group, use the Facebook search feature.  Use the & symbol for the word "and" - and then select groups from the left-hand menu (if you don't see the group).  I look forward to having you join!

As you probably know, Facebook is a popular social networking tool used in the United States.  Other social networking tools include:
  • Friendster
  • MySpace
  • Linked In
  • Plaxo
According to a wikipedia site,, Facebook has about 300,000,000 users.  Social networking tools allow users to have an online community of friends and colleagues.  Social networking tools are examples of the interactive (Web 2.00) web.  Instead of reading static web pages, users are able to self-publish and share ideas, photos, videos, and more.

Statistical Software

Statistical software can be a prohibitive expense!  I am always on the lookout for robust free or shareware applications.  Today I ran across a couple of web sites
If you have used one of the applications - please share your experiences. 

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Medical Identity Theft

This past weekend, Linda and I spent time discussing the textbook reviews for the 3rd edition.  I thought that the reviewers provided some excellent suggestions.  One of the suggestions was to address medical identity theft.  Although security breaches are discussed on p. 438 in Chapter 16, the ramifications of the breaches are not detailed.  We have included a link to comprehensive information about medical identity theft on the textbook web page the section Corrections & Additions.  There is now a link to the World Privacy Forum resources on medical identity theft

I continue to be amazed and repulsed about the extent of malicous criminal behavior!  For example, a Boston psychiatrist who created fictitious medical diagnoses for his patients for billing purposes.  The common theme for medical identity theft is personal greed!  The perpetrators steal identities in order to obtain money, illegal drugs, or medical treatment.  A PowerPoint presentation that provides a comprehensive overview about medical identity theft is available online at

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Google Wave

I received my invitation to join Google Wave this morning (4 days after I submitted my request for an account)!  As noted in the video links below, Google Wave was designed to provide real time email collaboration and includes the ability to use multimedia.

I had heard about it a while back did not take the time to explore until I talked to NW the other day after the Serious Gaming presentation. Take the time to check out these videos for more information:

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Computer and Office Software Competencies

Nursing computer competencies is a topic that comes up over and over in the literature and in faculty discussions.  Yesterday, I read an article by Elder and Koehn (2009) that describes my experience with nursing students' computer and office competencies.  The researchers surveyed 90 first and second semester nursing students and 19 RN-BSN students to identify self-perception of computer skills and compared the results to computer assessment skills outcomes.  The study results indicated that while students self-assessed themselves to be experts in specific skill areas, such as word processing, in actuality, they lacked many of the skills necessary for college work.

Marc Prensky (  is known for his work about Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants (,%20Digital%20Immigrants%20-%20Part1.pdf ).  Essentially, Digital Natives grew up with technology, whereas, Digital Immigrants, like myself, adopted technology.  The potential misconception that instructors make is that Digital Natives are technology experts.  I suggest that "you never miss what you never had" and that many Digital Natives have knowledge gaps related to computers in general and office software in particular.

Examples of word processing and spreadsheet software knowledge gaps include competencies for:
  • Word Processing
    • Using word wrap
    • Creating tables
    • Using spellcheck, thesauras, and word count functions
    • Using endnotes, footnotes, and personal reference management functions
    • Using the outline function
    • Creating headers and footers
    • Creating a hanging indent
    • Inserting page numbers
    • Saving files into other file formats
    • Using search and replace
  • Spreadsheet
    • Using formulas with spreadsheet software
    • Formatting spreadsheet software to function as a database
    • Importing and exporting in comma in other file formats such as a CSV (comma separated value)
    • Using filters
    • Using search and replace
    • Using conditional formatting
I read a posting on the nursing informatics listserv about a free online resource sponsored by the Goodwill Community Foundation International, which provides free online learning resources.  The link is at

Registration is free!  The site provides educational resources for computer basics, office software, and exploring life (see screenshot below). I especially like the fact the the OpenOffice software is included.  I use OpenOffice to create all of the HTML (hypertext markup language) files for Blackboard learning management system courses, because it creates "clean code" and is very user friendly. 

I plan to explore the learning resources on the GCF site over the next few weeks.  Please feel free to comment on this topic.

Elder, B. L., & Koehn, M. L. (2009). Assessment tool for nursing student computer competencies. Nursing Education Perspectives, 30(3), 148-152.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Searching using the Internet

The ability to find useful information on the Internet is problematic for many students.  I am always looking for web sites that provide the "teachable moment".  This morning I discovered Richard Byrne's blog at The blog includes a booklet with 15 tools and strategies to assist users to improve Internet search results.  I especially liked the links on the topic of Boolean logic.

Webinar Software

My research partners and I tested DimDim free webinar software this past week.  We were especially interested in the desktop sharing function. The sound transmission within DimDim was problematic.  When testing with a student there was a lag in sound.  Although KF had a headset, we could not hear her speak.  We ended up using the phone for audio and the software for work.

Desktop sharing is possible, but the user has to be able to download a 2MB file.  If the user is working from a hospital behind a firewall, the app probably will not work.

MC was using her netbook and had difficulties, due to small screen size, with the view.  She also had difficulties staying connected. 

Clearly, commercial software is much more robust.  As of now, I am hesitant to use DimDim with others who are not comfortable with technology.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Webinar and Polling Software

I have been exploring the use of webinar and polling software for the past several months.  Some of the grad students in the Integrating Technology in the Health Science Educator Role have not had any experience with webinar software.  It is a concept that some of the informatics students had difficulty understanding, too.

Many of the colleges and universities in the University System of Georgia (USG) use Wimba; however, GCSU does not.  I would like to use webinar software for:
  • Online course orientations
  • Student "oral" class presentations
  • Assissting one or more students who need guidance to resolve a technology issue
  • Collaborate with students on course projects
  • Online meetings
I am familiar with Wimba and Elluminate from a participant and speaker's perspective, but what about free solutions?  I discovered DimDim ( ) this past weekend. It is free for up to 20 users.  It has all of the features that were on my "want" list:  videoconferencing, ability to use presentatiaon and polling software, and the ability to share desktops. 

Next, I explored using Poll Daddy software ( ).  It could be useful for formative assessments for a lesson or course.  So far, I have experimented with the use of polling software in email. My next step is to include it on a web site or this blog.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

I am working on course prep for my Integrating Technology into the Healthcare Educator Role class.  I reflected on the polling software that was used in yesterday's webinar and decided to do some additional exploration.  I reviewed the Digital Inspiration web site at which provided a summary about a number of polling software solutions.  The polling software that I have explored to date include:
I also explored Jane Hart's web site that lists the Top 100 Tools for Learning 2009.  Using the resources on that site, I explored DimDim online meeting software.  It is free for up to 25 users.  You can anticipate watching me experiment with some of these software solutions.  I welcome hearing about your experiences and recommendations.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Educational Gaming

I attended a 2 hour webinar entitled Playing Games to Enhance Learning with Dr. Atsusi Hirumi as a presenter this afternoon.  Plan to attend the follow-up face2face presentation next Friday.  The presenter engaged the audience by asking us to visit gaming sites and then used online polling to obtain feedback. The SCORM modules that I am sharing in this blog are low tech gaming solutions (in comparison to scenes and lifelike figures).  I will be posting some examples of more sophisticated gaming software pertinent to the health sciences later.  I did add a couple of educational gaming blogs to my Blogger site to follow. I attempted to search for additional one at the Technorati (Blog search engine) site, but the search engine was not working.

Gaming sites to explore:

What other sites or educational gaming blogs do you recommend?
This information supports Chapter 23 on e-Learning (Thede & Sewell).

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Personal Reference Manager - Exporting Citations from EndNote to Zotero

Two new members of our Web 2.0/Health 2.0 research team will be using Zotero to manage citations.  I needed to share the citations information that our GCSU team members had already collected.  The solution was not obvious at first because the export functions in Zotero differ from Endnote.

I knew that Endnote could import files from Zotero if I had exported them as a RIS file. The screenshot on the left shows the export file formats that are available in Zotero.

The problem  was the export features in Endnote were different (See screenshot above).  RIS was not listed as a file type.   

The solution?  I had to select RefMan (RIS) Export as the Output Style using the drop-down menu by output style first (See screenshot below) and then export the file as a text file(.txt)!  I found the solution counter-intuitive, but it worked! 

This information supplements Chapter 12 (Thede & Sewell) on Digital Libraries and Personal Reference Managers.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Creating an eBook Part 2

I downloaded Stanza  reader software for the iPhone to explore how it might be used to create an ebook.  Stanza can read files with ePub formats.  I discovered that there is a desktop version of Stanza (that works both with a PC and a Mac) that you can download to convert different file formats to an ePub format. 

Since I am teaching an informatics course this semester with 2 ebooks that are PDF files, I wanted to see if I could read one of the books on the iPhone.  It was so easy!  I exported the book to ePub format and then  used the iPhone to find the "shared book" which was located on the PC desktop. Have not had time to explore how easy it might be to navigate the converted ebook, but that will be the next adventure.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

SCORM Modules to Support the Thede & Sewell Nursing Informatics Textbook

The SCORM  modules (sharable content object reference model - see page 397-398 for more information) are now available for download and use to support the learning content for chapters the Thede & Sewell textbook. SCORM modules are designed for faculty who use the Thede & Sewell textbook and a learning management system to provide learning content. For more information, see my web site for the textbook at

You can download the SCORM modules from the links below. Save each file to your desktop computer and then import it into your learning management system using the SCORM import feature.

Chapter 9 - Spreadsheets
Chapter 10 - Databases
Chapter 14 - Consumer Health Records
Chapter 22 - Telehealth
Chapter 23 - e-Learning
Chapter 24 - Administration
Chapter 25 - Research
Chapter 26 - Legal/Ethical Issues

Monday, October 19, 2009

Health 2.0

I "hand-walked" the Institutional review board (IRB) to protect human subjects info today to Tracy N.. Hope to pilot our research survey to assess "health 2.0" use in November. More to come.

Embedding a YouTube Video with PowerPoint

My students often challenge me to learn new technology strategies. This past weekend one of the students was trying to figure out how to embed a YouTube video using PowerPoint. I thought it was a terrific idea because there are hundreds of superb videos in YouTube that are relevant to nursing practice and patient education.

I knew that I could use video converting software to download a YouTube video, but I had not considered attempting to incorporate the URL into a presentation. I ventured out to create a PowerPoint presentation as a just-in-time tutorial. I plan to add some interactive questions at the end of the tutorial later.

To solve the problem, I googled the terms and discovered the solution in YouTube! The only snag was that I had a corruption on the computer I was using so it did not have Flash. The lesson I learned is that if Flash is not installed, it will not appear in the PPT Control Box menu. I emailed myself the PPT and used another computer to complete the presentation.

This presentation could be used to extend the information in Chapter 8, Presentation Software: Looking Professional in the Spotlight, of the Thede & Sewell textbook. Although almost all of the younger students feel proficient with the use of PowerPoint, they may not have thought about using YouTube videos.

The PowerPoint presentation is online at

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Creating an eBook

You realize that this posting is Debby Mac's fault! She created a
syllabus with a topic that included I was going to teach how to
publish to a PDA. It has been a couple of years since I had
researched that topic, so I have ventured out today to explore. Since
I have an iPhone, I began with publishing resources for the iPhone.
Reader for the iPhone
I needed reader software to view an eBook on a Smartphone such as an iPhone or PDA. I went to the iTunes store and found 2 free apps:

  • Kindle for the iPhone
  • Stanza

Kindle for the iPhone was free today, so I downloaded it. After the download, I was prompted to log-in to my Amazon account. To get a better perspective of how the ebook worked, I also downloaded Pride and Prejudice (free) from Amazon. The book was very easy to read. All I had to do was tap the iPhone window to get the pages to turn.

Creating the eBook Content
Patient education resources available for an ebook could provide just-in-time healthcare information at the point of need. The next step is to assemble all of the parts of a book such as a book cover and chapters. For patient education, the book might be really simple
like how to take care of you picc line, or managing your care when on Coumadin. In the Coumadin example, there could be "chapters" on interpreting the INR, when to call your healthcare provider, foods to avoid, medications to avoid, etc. In other words the chapters might be one or two paragraphs.

After creating the content, the next step is to run readability statistics to make sure that the reading level is no higher than 6
th grade level. You can do that using Microsoft Word Readability Statistics. To make sure that the Readability Statistics show, go to the Microsoft Office icon -> Word Options -> Proofing and make sure that there is a check mark in the box next to Show Readability Statistics located under the heading When Checking Spelling and Grammar in Word.

The next step is to do a spelling and grammar check for the entire document. The readability statistics will be the last display.

Note: For more information on information literacy and readability statistics, review Chapter 11 – The Internet: One Road to Health and Evidence-based Information (Thede & Sewell, 2010).

Software to Create the eBook
The final step is to generate the ebook. The web site provide a
step-by-step process for creating an ebook free. Well, you know that a .com site can't really be free. A basic do-it-youself book is free. There is a fee schedule for varying levels of help such as editing, graphic design, etc.

Thede, L. Q., & Sewell, J. P. (2010). Informatics and nursing : competencies & applications
(3rd ed.). Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Writing for Publication

I will be presenting at an all day workshop in a few weeks. One of my presentations will be publishing patient education resources as a printed brochure, magazine, newsletter, newspaper, web site (such as a blog or static site), and PDAs. I will be posting resources for that workshop on this blog. Today, I decided to experiment using Word 2007 blogger resource. I found Word to be very easy to use. I simply selected new blog from the Microsoft Office button and a wizard started asking me which blog site that I wanted to use. After the blog page appeared, I could see that the ribbon was modified to include a tab for Blog Post.

You can expect to see posts over the next few weeks as I collect resources.