November 27, 2011

4 Gift Ideas for Nursing Students this Holiday Season

Nursing educators are heading into the final days of the fall semester at most schools. I like to give my students gift ideas that they could use to make their student lives easier. I suggest they pass them on to their parents and relatives. Here are my top 3 suggestion for the 2011 holiday season:

1. Monochrome Laser Printer: So many students tell me their printer is broken or out of ink, or that the school's printer is broken or being used by too many others. A black and white laser printer can be had for under $100. Even though toner cartridges cost around $60 students fail to realize that the cost per pages is only pennies, print quality is superior to inkjet, they're fast, and the toner never goes dry like an inkjet cartridge.

2. Apple iPod Touch: At $200 this is a great tool for students. No monthly fees, hundreds of healthcare applications (with many of them free), and lots of other non-academic uses including a camera, calendar, calculator, and iPod make it the best deal in the electronics store.

3. Apple iPad 2: If their parents have a bigger budget the iPad WiFi has all the benefits of the Touch and works well as an e-reader. The 3G model has monthly fees to access the Internet but has no contract.

4. All those too rich for your blood? How about a LED Penlight? They are very bright and last hours longer than the old-fashioned lights. They start around $7.

I hope you all have a good end of the semester. Stay calm. It will be all over soon.

November 15, 2011

Is the Amazon Kindle Fire useful to nursing educators?

This week Amazon releases its latest member of the Kindle e-reader family, the Kindle Fire. On its surface it looks like smaller (7" vs 10") and cheaper ($200 vs $500) Apple iPad but there are differences that nursing educators need to consider.

First, some details about the Fire. It is tablet computer running an Amazon version of the Android operating system. It's primary purpose is to connect with the Amazon universe of books and shopping. It also has a web browser, an e-mail reader, and built-in links to Amazon's Android App Store. Early reports are that it does these things well and has an easy-to-read screen not unlike the iPad's. Unlike the iPad, the Fire has no Bluetooth, microphone, camera, or GPS. The Fire also has no automatic ability to read PDF files unless you first e-mail them to the device.

For nursing educators the Fire still may be an option. Before committing to the Fire be sure that the applications you want are available. While many Android healthcare apps are available many are not yet on the Amazon App Store. There are also far fewer healthcare apps for Android than for the iOS devices (i.e., iPhone, iPad, & iPod Touch). This means more support issue for faculty who are want students to get specific applications. To me, the inability to directly read PDF files is also a killer. Getting students to e-mail themselves a PDF you've assigned seems like a tech support nightmare.

So the Fire may have some specific applications for educators, and its price is attractive, but its limitations seem too great for use in a nursing classroom or clinical setting.

November 8, 2011

5 Tips for Poster Presenters

I just got back from a conference and enjoyed many of the posters but I also was frustrated that so many educators fail to meet the needs of their audience. Here are some tips:

1. Minimize the text, Maximize the images. Why are so many posters practically a copy of their manuscript? Pick out the most important points and print only those. Use images, flowcharts, or charts to illustrate concepts. I should be able to tell what you did in a few seconds, remember there are lots of other posters I have yet to see.

2. Provide a handout with more detail. You're frustrated that you have so little on the poster? Make copies of the detailed description of your presentation. Use a small font and two columns and you can fit all the text onto one page.

3. Give clear contact information. Put your more than your name on the poster. Give us your email address so we can contact you for more information later. Put contact information on your handouts too.

4. Put the title of your study on a sticker and put it on the back of your business cards. If you want more people interested in your work a business card is great, but when I get home how will I remember what you did? If I have the title on the back of your business card I will remember what you did and know how to get in touch with you.

5. When you are standing by the poster during the poster session, engage those who walk by. The purpose of a research conference is to share research. This is not the time to avoid eye contact with people walking by. We all came from far distances to be there, engage us with some small talk, ask about our interests. We both may learn something.