First Advisor

Cullen, Patricia

Thesis Committee Member(s)

Stoeckel, Pamella


Rueckert-Hartman College for Health Professions

Degree Name

Doctor of Nursing Practice


Loretto Heights School of Nursing

Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Number of Pages

63 pages


Abstract Online nursing education has gained in popularity with over 400 RN-BSN programs in the U.S. Online learning allows students to remain in their communities and to continue working while advancing their education. The drawback for many students is the isolating nature of a totally online education. Students can feel disconnected and isolated in the asynchronous format. Students in an online RN-BS program at a large Northwestern University shared their sense of isolation and need for communication with the instructor in the totally online format. It was suggested that the use of a Virtual Meeting Room (VMR) would address this issue. In this qualitative phenomenological study VMR sessions were introduced in an introductory course of the online RN-BS program using a video conferencing system. Synchronous discussions along with video of the instructor were provided. Students attended a minimum of one VMR session during the first two weeks of the course that provided explanation of course content, course navigation, and clarified course concepts. All students were connected to audio with some connected by webcam. Fifteen students responded to a written survey consisting of three openended qualitative questions to assess students' perceptions of the VMR. Responses were coded for themes using constant comparative analysis. Four major themes emerged: Helpful Experiences, Participation Problems, Personalization of the Class, and Comparison of Classes With and Without VMR. Overall there were positive views of the experience using the VMR with some students indicating that the sessions would be most valuable for difficult classes. Findings of this study support that the VMR has the potential to increase students' sense of connection online, and can enhance social presence and immediacy in online courses. Keywords: online education, synchronous session, nursing education, social presence, connection; community of inquiry.

Date of Award

Fall 2014

Location (Creation)

Colorado (state); Denver (county); Denver (inhabited place)

Rights Statement

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