What’s Driving the Adoption of Technology in Nursing Education? Part 3 of the series The Future of Technology in Nursing Education

In part 3 of this 4-part series, the dialogue continues on the topic: What’s Driving the Adoption of Technology in Nursing Education? We discuss findings from the NLN and Wolters Kluwer (WK) national survey on the use of technology in schools of nursing, the reasons behind the push for greater adoption of technology, and differences in how faculty and deans view current trends.

By: Jone Tiffany and Sue Forneris

In 2015, the NLN Vision for the Changing Faculty Role: Preparing Students for the Technological World of Health Care called for increased adoption of technology to reframe how nursing students are taught and how graduates engage with patients and their caregivers in the connected age of health care. With higher education challenged to make learning more contextual and active, it is no surprise that nursing education is working hard to meet the needs of an increasingly wired generation of learners, that is, the students known as Generation Z.

Internet technology was always part of the landscape for members of Generation Z. The web revolution occurred during their formative years, providing exposure to an unprecedented amount of technology. Think about it. As technology became more compact and affordable, the popularity of smartphones in the United States grew exponentially. And by the end of 2016, 77 percent of teens 12 to 17 years old owned a smartphone. Technology has strongly influenced this generation in terms of communication and education (Lang, 2016).

The NLN/WK infographic  identifies faculty beliefs on the driving forces behind the use of technology in schools of nursing. Here are the top three drivers identified by faculty:

  1. An increase in the use of technology in the practice setting.
  2. The need to meet students where they are and how they are learning every day.
  • The decreasing number of available clinical sites.

Other drivers include:

  1. The need to increase NCLEX pass rates.
  2. The need to respond to curriculum change.
  3. Increased enrollment in schools of nursing.

Deans of schools of nursing, on the other hand, believe the need to meet students where they are and how they are learning every day is the number one driver for ramping up the adoption of technology in nursing education. However, the biggest barrier to technology adoption is identified as lack of funding to secure the latest and most useful technology.

As we reflect on the results of this part of the survey, it is important to note that educational technologies should be secondary to sound pedagogy. Technology can be used to activate learning, but it does not end there. The focus should still be around creating meaning for the learner – the expectation to learn and understand. Learners should be presented with opportunities to solve problems, which cannot be accomplished if education is dominated by too much lecture, the disengagement of students, and a continued focus on the need to cover content.

When integrating technology into teaching, we first must drive away our fear of using technology and investigate the digital tools students use in their daily lives. According to the Survey of Faculty Attitudes on Technology (Lederman & McKenzie, 2017), the top reason nonadopters shy away from technology is that it seems too impersonal (71 percent). The second reason is fear of losing control of the learning process (48 percent).

If operationalized correctly, and for the right reasons, technology can be used to enhance critical touch points – student to faculty, student to content, and student to student.



Lang, J.M. (2016). Small teaching: Everyday lessons from the science of learning.  San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Lederman, D., & McKenzie, L. (2017, October 20). Faculty buy-in builds, bit by bit: Survey of faculty attitudes on technology. Inside Higher Ed.  

National League for Nursing. (2015)A vision for the changing faculty role: Preparing students for the technological world of health care [NLN Vision Statement].


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