Diane M. Rankin
Clinical Assistant Professor, RN-BSN
Diane Rankin is originally from Minnesota and received her BSN from the University of Minnesota. She spent the first 3 years of her nursing career as a Navy Nurse stationed in Yokosuka, Japan, and the next seven in critical care settings and on medical-surgical units. Like many of her current students, she worked part-time and her flexible hours allowed her to raise three children and get two master's degrees: one in education from Morehead State University and another in Nursing from Louisiana State University (LSU). Prior to coming to UTEP in 2004, she taught in Kentucky, Indiana, Louisiana, and Florida.
At UTEP, she initially taught in face-to-face courses in UTEP's undergraduate nursing program. However, she started teaching online in the traditional BSN undergraduate and the RN to BSN Program after July 2013 when she moved to Georgia, north of Atlanta.
The subjects she teaches:
In the Traditional Nursing BSN program, I currently teach NURS 3205, a 100% online Nursing Informatics course. I also teach in the RN to BSN program. The RN to BSN Program is offered specifically for working nurses who have the Associate Degree in Nursing. It is taught 100% online for maximum student flexibility. Once the student has completed the UTEP Core Curriculum, the student begins to take the Phase 2 Nursing Courses (that's 2.5 semesters and five 7-week courses as listed below). I have taught in all of these courses.
- NURS 4402—RN to BSN Role Transition
- NURS 4303—Nursing Informatics and Technology
- NURS 4414— Evidence-Based Research
- NURS 4502— Nursing Leadership and Management
- NURS 4503— Nursing in the Community
Where her passion comes from:
Throughout my career in education, I have taught face-to-face clinical nursing courses in both the community college system and in the four-year university system. I love teaching in the RN to BSN program as it bridges the gap because it bridges (the education and knowledge gap) between a nurse with an associate degree in nursing and a nurse practitioner for our two-year Associate Degree students. Our faculty have designed five courses that will provide the ADN students with the tools for upward mobility in their workplace setting.
Her proudest accomplishment and biggest challenge as an online instructor:
What I love best about being an online instructor revolves around being a part of the student’s lives---sharing their ups and downs in life as they juggle work, family and school. I also love being a mentor for UTEP’s MSN graduate students as they serve as teaching assistants and begin to learn the role of a nursing educator, grading discussion boards and assignments. I love that sense of connection that is especially evident as I receive requests for recommendations from students who want to advance in their jobs or from students who wish to seek teaching positions.
One of my first accomplishments was developing a gerontology nursing elective course from the ground up. One of the challenges of this was determining content and course structure as well as figuring out what technology would add to the learning activities. I included collaborative activities—working in small groups—to engage the students and enhance their learning. Reflective activities were also included that encouraged the student to think though clinical scenarios designed in the discussion board format. There was lots of trial and error and it was challenging to develop discussion board questions that would develop the critical thinking skills of the learner.
Since I did not have any experiences with online learning in my graduate studies, I missed that student perspective that would have been an asset as I transitioned to online teaching. I, did, however, take all the required UTEP online courses necessary to teach in this program—all of which were most helpful.
Being a facilitator of learning and guiding the student’s learning is always a challenge! For me, additional challenges of online teaching include distance, communication and engaging students. I miss not physically seeing the students and their body language as they communicate on the discussion board But interestingly, I find that I know my online students perhaps better than I knew the traditional face-to-face students (who were in classes of 90-100). In the traditional setting, you get to know the brightest and the ones who are struggling. In the online setting, each student is required to communicate their thoughts/ feelings and critically think through discussion board situations providing the instructor insight into each student’s thought processes.
Communication is always a challenge. I find it important to send our weekly announcements that highlight the upcoming week. Detailed syllabi and detailed rubrics are vital. Engaging students is also a challenge. Over the years, I have learned strategies to better foster critical thinking. There was a lot of trial and error in writing thoughtful questions for discussion boards and designing scenarios that would engage the students to share ideas and differing opinions.
On what makes a successful online student:
A successful online learner needs to:
- Be an independent learner who is responsible for their own learning.
- Be self-disciplined—able to set a schedule for themselves and stick to the schedule to meet course deadlines.
- Have basic computer skills.
- Possess good written communication skills.
- Be able to take things in stride as they face obstacles.
- Have excellent time management skills.
Her advice to her students:
- Stay focused
- Check your Blackboard course daily
- Try not to procrastinate
- Have a backup plan if something goes wrong
- Keep instructor informed of your situation; notify them of concerns/problems; ask for help!