In another of our series bringing you the voices of last year’s OE Awards for Excellence winners, listen now to Kim Ernstmeyer sharing the outstanding success of Nursing Pharmacology, recognized by a 2020 award in the Open Textbook category.

A nursing educator at Chippewa Valley Technical College and director of the Open RN project (Open Resources for Nurses), Kim describes the impressive amount of collaboration, including authors, contributors, and the input of a national review board, that went into producing this first of five open textbooks. Hear more from Kim in this conversation with OEGlobal’s Marcela Morales, Una Daly, and Paul Stacey.

In the OEG Voices studio with clockwise from top left, Kim Ernstmeyer Paul Stacey, Una Daly, and Marcela Morales

Funded by a US Department of Education grant, Nursing was chosen as a topic for open textbooks as it is a high enrollment program with also high textbook costs for students.

The Open RN project is led by Chippewa Valley Technical College as part of the Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS) consortium. OER nursing textbooks and virtual simulations are collaboratively developed by faculty based on the WTCS State Nursing curriculum and the current NCLEX-RN Test Plan. Textbooks undergo national peer review by faculty, deans, industry members, and nursing students to ensure the content is accurate and relevant, written in clear language for pre-licensure nursing students, and based on current, evidence-based practices. All Open RN materials have CC-BY 4.0 Creative Commons licensing.

Kim brought the latest statistics and noted that the Nursing Pharmacology textbook has some 80,000 users. And while half are from the USA, it has seen significant use in from the Philippines, India, Canada, Australia, the UK, Nigeria, Kenya, Malaysia, and Pakistan.

The Nursing Pharmacology textbook is well known too for its high degree of interactivity. Kim shared that the project chose Pressbooks as the publishing platform and an added feature was the built in support for H5P to create interactive practice exercises. They made use of use of flashcards, quiz questions, and drag and drop exercises (see a list of all H5P activities), but according to Kim the branching scenario activities have been the most exciting.

These activities give learners a chance to be introduced to a patient, hear than describe symptoms, read reports from nurses, and then respond to decision points where they apply what they have learned in the chapter they are reading.Each one takes about 10-15 minutes to work through. Kim reports that the feedback from students indicate this about right amount of time to apply knowledge and get formative feedback.

Explore this example on Therapeutic Communication – Cultural Competency.

To create these activities, the project was fortunate to have access to a good amount of video content created for another project, including actors playing health care workers and patients. You can see some of these published in the Open RN YouTube channel that could be used directly in the H5P branching scenarios.

Explore more of the Open RN branching scenarios in their LibreStudio collection. Kim noted that these activities were of great value to learners during the COVID-19 pandemic. While the project has access to VR equipment to create more immersive simulations, the H5P versions are much more accessible to students (e.g. can be used on mobile devices) as they do not require special equipment.

Kim highlighted another lesson learned from teaching through the pandemic– the importance of having learning materials available to students offline. Their research indicated 60% of students prefer a print copy of textbooks. This is why in addition to the digital textbooks published in Pressbooks (and also shared in LibreTexts for easy remixing), the Open RN titles are made available via XanEdu in affordable, soft cover print versions.

Following Nursing Pharmacolgy the Open RN project has published ones on Nursing Skills and Nursing Fundamentals. Currently in development and aimed for publication in 2022 are two more titles- Management & Professional Concepts as well as Mental Health & Community Concepts.

Kim is looking forward to analyzing student course completion data to explore the impact of the Open RN textbooks. You can hear her enthusiasm for the level of collaboration this project has achieved. She reports that faculty participating as authors have express the value of collaborating with colleagues from other institutions. In addition students have been involved in he project in reviewing content, creating media, and being models/actors in the interactive media.

We hope you are excited to hear about the Open RN project– learn more from their web site. Thank you Kim for taking time to be part of this conversation.

Music for this episode is  “Joyful Meeting” by Crowander from the Free Music Archive shared under a Creative Commons BY-NC (Attribution-Non-Commercial 4.0) license.