While COVID-19 restricted in-person learning at Ryerson this past year, the Daphne Cockwell School of Nursing and the Midwifery Education Program in the Faculty of Community Services adapted in ways that exemplify the hybrid learning model. This year, faculty found ways to safely provide some in-person learning opportunities, while getting creative with remote learning.
Planning for a safe return to campus started early for Daria Romaniuk, professor and associate director of the collaborative nursing degree program. She and her team made plans for three different in-person courses that maintained public health guidelines.
“Some things done in the lab could be recreated for students virtually, but not everything. We thought it best to do as much as we could in person,” she said. “We want students to get as much of the realistic experience as possible [and] the students appreciate the opportunity to be in the labs.”
When it comes to remote learning, the school of nursing had previous experience, having employed award-winning gamification teaching tools long before the pandemic. Students can access a virtual hospital in order to practise patient care.
“You can’t guarantee, even in a clinical setting, that every student will have the kinds of experiences that you want them to have,” said Romaniuk. “The virtual simulation gives us the opportunity to ensure that all students can have the same experience.”
Midwifery professor Nicole Bennett, who taught a clinical skills course with a limited in-person component on campus during the fall term, says that drawing blood, setting an IV and ascertaining a baby’s position are important skills to learn in person. In normal circumstances, students spend six hours a week in workshops learning these hands-on skills.
In the past year, some midwifery students went to campus for clinical skills assessments before they started their clinical placements.
“We need to be certain that our students have learned enough to go confidently into their placements and be safe,” she said. “With in-person assessments, we were able to do small corrections and provide additional explanations that really helped them,” said Bennett. “Students very much appreciated the face-to-face interaction.”
Midwifery student Hannah Cole was in the class last fall. “It was stressful, especially at the beginning, but now I’m really comfortable with how they managed to transform the whole course,” she said.