Star Wars, Open Education and Nursing School…This One is a Doozy.

Source: GIPHY

I’m actually writing a blog post about Star Wars in a graduate studies class. This is something I would have dreamed about in grade eight. I watched Everything is a Remix in preparation for this post and it immediately brought back a flood of memories of talking about movie going experiences growing up. I vividly remember reading about all the creative influences that impacted George Lucas ( westerns, Kurosawa films, matinee serials to name a few). As the video mentions Lucas reinterprets, alters and re-presents these concepts and ideas into the seemingly novel property that became Star Wars. In turn Star Wars became a a property that was “remixed” in it’s own right. This is covered in the video Everything is a Remix: The Force Awakens. This video essentially talks about how The Force Awakens mimics the original trilogy to meet fan expectations. It presents a continuum with a completely novel concept on one end and a familiar concept on the other. The video offers The Force Awakens as particularly effective as it lands in the middle of these two extremes.

I am not a writer. I am not a movie produced or a director. I am a registered nurse. I don’t know much but I do know this. People like things that are familiar. We say we want novel and original. I think what we mean is we want “kind of” novel and original with a healthy slathering of ” mostly familiar.” The continuum mentioned above is a great representation of this.

Wait a second? How does this relate to open education? Good question. Hold on to something while I try to bring this around full circle. I recently attended a seminar on the impact of digital technologies on adult education. The overall feel of the talk seemed to be ” robots are going to take your job.” It wasn’t a perspective that highlighted the opportunities for connection and creativity, ( that Ze Franks talks about) rather it focused on the march of technology with the underlying message of ” I hope educational institutions can keep up.”

We talk a lot in change in nursing. We talk about the change model. We even talk about paradigm shifts (what they are and why they happen) but sometimes we get scared by change. The concept of open education in nursing  is no different. Some nursing educators might see it as a powerful way to increase the knowledge base of entire populations. Some may be concerned about aspects such as regulation, review and delivery of information. Questions like ” how to we ensure the appropriate information reaches the right people?”  or ” who reviews it before it is made public?” Take a step back even further and you can ask ” who decides what is the right information?”  Sit down at a lunch table with a bunch of nursing educators and you will get any number of perspectives on open education.

Many nursing programs use critical social theory as a way of understanding health related phenomena

(This video summarizes the idea of power relations that are central to critical social theory)

What about the power relations involved with open education? What kind of shifts in power does this entail? In the case of nursing, what changes does this mean at the institutional level? What does it mean in terms of licensing and recognition of learning? These are all very valid questions they have very real and far reaching consequences based on how they are interpreted and answered.

I guess it is not the question of “if” open education if impacting nursing education, but rather  ” how” it impacts nursing education. Students engage in informal learning through social media (Facebook and YouTube come to mind) students can also network with each other like never before. This interaction likely goes beyond the transfer of knowledge and acts support systems for students ( I’m thinking about how each year in our program has a student lead Facebook group). This learning and support is all something that is happening outside of the educational institution but impacts greatly on the student’s learning experience. This is very interesting when considered through the lens of critical social theory.

Returning to the Star Wars example perhaps use of social media and open education is a way for students to find some familiarity with their learning process. That is to say they are using the digital tools and platforms they are familiar with to  facilitate their learning practice. When I think of the continuum that was discussed in Everything is a Remix: The Force Awakens I wonder if nursing education can do the same thing. Offer content online for free, do our best to ensure it is of high quality and reliable. As I mentioned in an earlier blog post, there are two main components to learning to be a nurse, theory and practice. I say  make the theory readily accessible. Allow access to courses online. Those that are interested will be drawn to it and use it to inform their actions as they pursue clinical practice (the clinical practice part still needs to be done in a hospital with the appropriate supervision). Doing this in my opinion would increase exposure to the nursing profession for prospective students.  Nursing schools would need to utilize a familiar approach to offer these courses ( perhaps through recorded lectures or online learning modules). Again in keeping with the continuum example, this would strike a balance between the novel and the familiar for nursing educators delivering the content.

I realize these are some very big ideas. Implementing these changes would involve a fundamental shift in the way nursing education is delivered. However, I think it is a shift that is happening regardless. I apologize for the length of this post. Will these notions be beloved and celebrated like Luke Skywalker or forever looked on with shame and regret like Jar Jar Binks? Who knows? I thank you very much for taking the time to read this and I would be very interested in your thoughts and comments. I’ll see you in class!

Source: GIPHY

5 thoughts on “Star Wars, Open Education and Nursing School…This One is a Doozy.

  1. You raise some interesting questions! I read this hesitation of open education and nursing as a fear of uncertainty on the part of the licensing body and the medical profession.This type of change in any profession, especially those with a licensing body, would be.. well to put it bluntly, huge! Sometimes, I think this overwhelming feat is answered by keeping tighter control over educational content and process.Granted, I wouldn’t want someone to perform surgery on me that learned from an unreliable source!

    I am curious though, who would be responsible for verifying and authenticating the open educational resources? Is it possible that there may varying perspectives on the most appropriate way of engaging in certain nursing practices? For example, patient counselling. If this were the case, is it possible that the profession may be skeptical in offering open courses, not wanting to open themselves to scrutiny? I am curious about the barriers that are real or perceived by those in your profession and licensing body to offering open courses.

    You mentioned that people like what is familiar. This may be one of the biggest challenges in trying to effect change.


    1. Thanks Coralee,
      In short, I’m not entirely sure how this would look. Some portions of nursing education could be offered as open education ( courses regarding nursing theory, the history of nursing and nursing praxis come to mind. Basically anything without a clinical or practice education experience.). You raise a very good point regarding patient counseling. In this instance I think the theory portion could likely be taught through open education, however the practice portion would need to be delivered in a conventional clinical setting. I think institutions would need to promote the idea of offering open content. That way there is institutional over site regarding the content, the mode of delivery and access would change. Thank you very much for your comment!


    2. Thanks for sharing your questions and Coralee for your thoughtful response. I agree with Coralee’s concerns/questions in particular around how the content for nursing theory is regulated and the amount of change/work it will require to ensure quality resources/programs. I agree that this is both necessary and important, but it still seems like a bit of a pipe dream at this point.


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