The first day of CNIE was quite engaging, informative, and thought-provoking. Over the course of a packed 14 hours of pedagogical discussions and sessions the organizers are living up to their promise to keep us well fed, engaged, and entertained. In addition to the sessions I have been able to attend, there are many networking opportunities where informal learning is naturally occurring because we are surrounded by like-minded approachable people who are all dedicated to enhancing education through creative thinking.

My favorite thing to do is find meaningful long-lasting connections to try and nurture beyond the conference. Today I have made some new friends who are going to try and connect me with their colleagues who have explored similar challenges as I am facing in my practice. Several ideas are ruminating in my mind after talking to these colleagues, which I want to note somewhere before I forget.

Exploration of the literature around concept-based teaching may help to meet some of the challenges we face with the sheer volume of content we try to teach students in our nursing program. After all, in today’s world people have access to knowledge. It was like Stephen Downs said this morning, there is not a lot of point in education being focused entirely on teaching content. Content is constantly evolving. How can we teach students in nursing to interpret and apply knowledge? Leeanne Waddington offered to talk to us more about this concept of concept-based education in Nursing contexts.

There are a lot of competing demands on our energy. What we need is a clear and positively framed goal. We can’t just focus on what is going wrong in our program or we will never accomplish greatness. We also need to create meaningful learning that is helpful for students. We need to focus and build on what we are doing well to promote student success. Being creative and enjoying our work is also important.

Many of us face similar struggles with innovation – workload and budget constraints are being experienced everywhere. The challenge I was able to explore from a positive frame of reference was looking for opportunities to find meaningful learning opportunities in these situations. Next year I am teaching a few courses that need some major revisions to make them more meaningful for students. I like Michael’s creative approach to building open resources with students while teaching them about social issues. I had the opportunity to brainstorm some ideas that my work in my context and think I am now closer to “pulling the trigger” on some ides I have explored.

The essay writing component of my course needs to be better structured and scaffolded. The essay is honestly garbage because it is the truest form of a disposable assignment. Before the conference I had some ideas about how to break-up the first assignment. Another idea I now need to look into is creating a student repository of annotated bibliography work that future students can use and build upon. This assignment would replace the second essay in my course and be more achievable for students.

Blogging is another idea I can explore that would promote nursing informatics and make learning more meaningful. I have used syndicated blogs before and will think more about doing that in a year one course in lieu of the first assignment.

Several conversations were had about how to better structure badging (or micro-credentialing). Ongoing conversations need to be had in our program about the possibility of using badges to recognize student achievements in a meaningful way that they see value in.

Laura and Jon … wondering where Jason is
Kelly, Katherine, and Laura

We have also made some long-lasting connections and built friendships. These are just a few notes about the many meaningful conversations I will be digesting in the next few months. thank you for all the feedback from audience members and encouraging words. I look forward to Day 2!


Laura Killam is an experienced nursing educator from Northern Ontario with a keen interest in improving student learning through innovation. For more information please visit


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