Nightingale Challenge Meeting: Interactive Methods for Teaching Online or in the Classroom

by Susan Sanders, DNP, RN, NEA-BC, Vice President of Kaplan Nursing | April 30, 2020

The goal of our first Nightingale Challenge presentation was to provide tools and methodologies to use in teaching future nurses, whether in-person or online. 

In honor of the WHO’s Year of the Nurse celebration, Kaplan Nursing is proud to partner with Nursing Now’s Nightingale Challenge to mentor the next generation of nurse educators. We are participating in the initiative by providing leadership and development training for a select group of nurse educators. Each month, mentees join a monthly interactive virtual meeting with the Kaplan Nursing Team to learn and discuss topics such as curriculum development, trends in teaching, advancements in test prep in advance of the Next Gen NCLEX®, overcoming professional challenges, and much more. In April 2020, Dr. Becky Oglesby, Curriculum Developer, provided our Year of the Nurse presentation titled, “Interactive Methods for Learning Online or in the Classroom”. We invite you to read a summary of the presentation below:

Interactive Methods for Teaching Online or in the Classroom

As a result of the Covid-19 outbreak, we understand that faculty have had to adapt their teaching methods and are using technology like never before. (In fact, this presentation was delayed by a month due to Covid-19.) As a result, the goal of our first Nightingale Challenge presentation was to provide tools and methodologies to use in teaching future nurses, whether in-person or online. 

The objectives for the presentation were: 

  • Review types of nursing instruction for the classroom
  • Identify research pertinent to classroom instruction
  • Discuss and share sample classroom activities


Lecture seems to be the most utilized method of instruction in nursing education; however, despite the student’s desire for this teaching method, the literature clearly shows that this does not provide the best learning experience for students. When only exposed to lectures, students tend to just try to memorize the presentations and some may not ever open their textbooks.  Furthermore, simply highlighting and re-reading the chapters are not the best way to remember the material.  Brown and colleagues (2014) have provided research to show a different type of learning is much more productive than re-reading notes.

The findings show that when active learning methods, such as flipped classrooms, are incorporated into nursing curricula, student understanding of topics increases. Outcomes also show that lower level students benefited even more from interactive learning than the higher level students. 

As expert nurse educators, we must remember that not every topic, detail, sign, or symptom needs to be presented in class. Combining and discussing several concepts together will broaden a student’s thinking. Students likely will not know every topic tested on the NCLEX® (or on a standardized test) so it is important they learn how to think critically to determine the appropriate answer or action―whether they’ve directly encountered the information in class or not. This will be an important skill for them to carry into the clinical setting so their clinical judgment will increase. 


Multiple activities were presented during this webinar to stimulate student thinking. They included methods to:

Improve lectures by engaging students beforehand

  • Reading assignments (remember to keep these manageable so students will complete them)
  • Podcasts of important material
  • Identification of salient points by the students

Case study utilization

  • Unfolding that can be used over a period of time
  • Group work by students to determine priorities of care, care maps, etc.
  • Socratic questioning

TED talks & You Tube presentations

  • Share stories of patient experiences, nurses’ interactions with patients/families, managing NCLEX anxiety, etc.
  • Preassign or ask the students to seek out acceptable samples to share with the class

Class Debates

  • Ethical issues such as legalization of Cannabis, euthanasia, etc.
  • Leadership issues such as staffing ratios, gender equality in nursing, etc.

Think, Pair, Share

  • Students write known content on index cards about a given subject/concept (5 minutes)
  • Each student pairs up with another random student and they add to original thoughts (5 minutes)
  • Then they pair up with 2 other students and share all written items (5 minutes)
  • Ask students to draw pictures to illustrate and display/post within the shared room
  • Have a few groups share their picture with all – duplication may occur, but students will then see and hear descriptions

Role play

  • To help with the lack of clinical experience at this time
  • Students can create video clips of themselves doing any type of activity (debate, role-play, teaching) and post to facilitate discussion

Peer Teaching

  • Provides the student with the opportunity to share/cement their knowledge of topics
  • This method provides mentoring opportunities to less experienced students (e.g. have senior students “teach” juniors)


  • Kahoot
  • Jeopardy

One-Minute Paper

  • A one minute paper provides the student an opportunity to reflect back on the most important concepts
  • This can be done at the beginning of class to explore what is known about a topic, or at end of class, as a reflection
  • As with questioning, the purposeful action of retrieving information is a very powerful tool that will embed the information in the brain for a much longer period of time

NCLEX-Style Questions

  • Be sure to include the new Next Generation samples and the “dreaded” Select All That Apply items

Concept Map

  • These are easy to develop online and share as individuals or groups

Gallery Walk

  • This can be done by posting pictures, documents, or questions for discussion either on-line or in the classroom

Dynamic Testing

  • The term Dynamic Testing is common in the computer world but is discussed as a part of the learning process in Brown, Roediger and McDaniel (2014). We are aware that a single test reveals what the student knows at that very moment, a static report in their learning journey
  • The 1st action is to determine the state of knowledge. The question is proposed: What do I need to do to improve (rather on focusing on just being correct)
  • Be aware the students will tend to study areas of their comfort, vs the areas they REALLY need to work on.


A poll taken during the “Interactive Methods for Learning Online or in the Classroom” webinar showed that lecture was used 80% of the time for this group of nurse educators. As a result of sharing these ideas, we hope that faculty will feel comfortable moving from a lecture-based delivery method of instruction to implementing numerous different modalities in their courses whether they are teaching in a physical classroom or online. 


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Podcast: Discovering the characteristics of effective learning with experts Peter C. Brown and Jonathan Levi. retrieved at

Brown, P, Roediger III, H. & McDaniel, M. (2014). Make it stick. Cambridge, MA.

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Photo credit. Dynamic Testing

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Writeawriting. (2015). “The Big Fat List of 500 Controversial Essay and Debate Topics (Part II).” Retrieved   Jan 30, 2020. (


NCLEX® is a registered trademark of the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, Inc. Test names are the property of the respective trademark holders, none of whom endorse or are affiliated with Kaplan.

Susan Sanders Kaplan Nursing

As Vice President of Kaplan Nursing, Dr. Sanders, oversees the vision and strategy surrounding product development, research and consulting for the company’s full suite of nursing products.  The nursing team has expanded Kaplan’s NCLEX prep business into benchmark testing and remediation with the addition of service and consulting. She has focused on student, faculty, staff and program development through an emphasis on outcomes. She is experienced in delivering presentations to regional and national audiences. She has gained additional leadership expertise as president of the state nurses association, through professional memberships, and through board certification as an Advanced Nurse Executive (NEA-BC).

See more posts by Susan Sanders, DNP, RN, NEA-BC, Vice President of Kaplan Nursing