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Developing online education modules for the Australian Practice Nurses Association


Client: APNA is the peak professional body for nurses working in primary health care including general practice. To support its members in continuing professional development, APNA works collaboratively with other organisations to plan, construct and deliver online learning modules. These modules aim to be interactive and practical with a flexible online format that allows users to continue their professional development from home or work without the cost and inconvenience of travel to a central location. Larter has developed two online learning modules for APNA and is in the process of developing two more.

Project: APNA engaged Larter to provide educational support services on four separate occasions during 2014. These requests were for Larter to develop four online learning modules for primary health care nurses, with a focus on nurses in general practice. Three of these modules were to be developed from existing written resources (developed on behalf of the Australian Medicare Local Alliance – AMLA), whilst the fourth module was to be researched, written, created and completely developed by Larter. All development required liaison with online instructional designers to ensure modules met online specifications and limitations.

Approach: Larter commenced this project work with APNA in January 2014. Over this time our relationship has continued to flourish and grow with more online module development underway. We have successfully completed two modules – ‘Leadership in Action’ and ‘Population Health for Nurses in General Practice’. These modules required conversion of existing written resources (developed for AMLA) into online platforms. The aim was to convert the written resources to an interactive learning format that would ‘speak’ to nurses and provide them with opportunities to engage in activities that would encourage greater leadership in nursing and nurse led activities as well as increased population health activities in general practice to improve patient health outcomes.

Two more modules were developed. One module called‘Optimising health as people age’ and the other module related to health literacy. The healthy ageing module supports nurses in primary health care to undertake appropriate health assessments and referral. The health literacy module requires the compilation of evidence based research and key information that will inform nursing practice to improve health literacy. That is, it will support nurses to identify ways in which they can support patients use of health information to make health decisions and access appropriate health services.

Writing online modules, particularly from existing written resources may seem a straightforward proposition. However, the challenge for Larter has been to coordinate and facilitate content development that is engaging and turns words into strategies that nurses can implement. Online content versions were also needed to meet APNA’s budget and expectations of nursing education, as well as ‘fit’ within the online learning platform. It was essential that all modules ‘speak’ to APNA target audiences, capture key information and allow learners opportunities to engage in activities that encourage reflection, in order for nurses to implement new or expanded practice.

The development of the health literacy module from ‘scratch’ has provided Larter with a new level of creativity; being able to drive (in collaboration with APNA) the direction of how nurses will engage and hopefully adopt health literacy strategies to improve health and access to health services.

Outcome: Larter developed a congenial and successful working relationship with APNA and facilitated a productive collaboration between APNA and the online instructional designers to produce meaningful and relevant online learning.

Through engagement with Larter, APNA has was able to bring important written resources to ‘life’, by offering nurses the opportunity to translate their knowledge and skills into practical strategies they can implement through the convenience of online professional development. This provided APNA with the opportunity to not only expand their CPD offerings, but to continue their work in developing and expanding nurses’ various roles in primary health care. All modules were accessible to APNA members in 2015 via the APNA CPD portal.

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Image credit: Dan Zen via Flickr Creative Commons