Integrating Picmonic for Nursing into the nursing program at Northeast Alabama Community College meant embracing change. Making big changes, like to how nursing educators interact with and teach their students, isn’t usually something people are eager to do. But as Magan Edwards, Nursing Faculty at Northeast Alabama Community College shares, it is more than worth the effort!
Edwards earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing seven years ago and has worked in cardiac unit and emergency department nursing in both rural and metropolitan communities since then. She began her career in nursing education as a tutor and coach in Northeast Alabama Community College’s Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) program and became an instructor in the fall of 2019.
“It was one of those random things,” Edwards says of learning about Picmonic. “I was researching resources that might be helpful to my students and saw an ad for Picmonic. After just a few minutes, I knew Picmonic would be part of my student’s lives.”
Like many nursing educators who share Picmonic with their classes, Edwards can see the value personally. “I wouldn’t have hesitated to invest in Picmonic as a student seven years ago,” she said. “As a visual learner myself, I know presenting information like this is helping students every day.”
Introducing Picmonic to her ADN students had to be thoughtful and successful. It wasn’t just to help the students maximize their efforts and succeed in the program, but also for Edwards’ colleagues in the ADN program to truly explore the ways Picmonic could help the most students.
“I spent a lot of time vetting Picmonic before even bringing it to the faculty,” explained Edwards. “It was important to try it with the right student group to have the best chance for success. The pilot group really championed it and were instrumental in getting Picmonic to be part of our program. Once the pilot group started seeing improvements in their grades, they began to advocate for the program with their peers. Picmonic really grew in popularity amongst students first.”
Making Picmonic Part of Everyday Education
Students become enthusiastic about Picmonic once they use it. That’s what Edwards and her colleagues at Northeast Alabama Community College try to do each semester with new students; get them engaged with learning.
“When we introduce Picmonic to our students it is with a Maximizing Memory webinar, and it’s always the first time they are hearing about Picmonic,” said Edwards. “Every time we share this webinar with a new group of students, several will tell us – immediately – how receptive and excited they are to use Picmonic, or how much they appreciate it because they are a visual learner.”
The ways teachers use Picmonic ranges from school to school, and from teacher to teacher. And, since Picmonic is available for a wide range of areas of study, the ways students are engaging with Picmonic is growing every day.
“I typically use Picmonic in our LMS through Canvas, with different Picmonics in my PowerPoints to the corresponding topics,” said Edwards of how she has typically used Picmonic. “We watch and review everything as a class and then discuss after. I also make playlists for my class and use the quiz.”
Edwards’ colleagues are learning their own way to integrate Picmonic into their class and individual teaching style.
“Some of the other teachers were apprehensive at first, because it is new and pretty different for a lot of them,” Edwards explains. “But they all really like using Picmonic now. Most of the other teachers will at least use one or two Picmonics on some of the significant or typically challenging topics. They all use it in their own ways. Many of them make a playlist. Not all of them use the quizzes, but some do! They all use Picmonic in their lectures in some way and post links for students to review the topics through Picmonic.”
The Proof is in the Results
What Edwards, her students and colleagues all learned is that, when something new works, it’s worth adapting! The outcomes are undeniable and, at the end of the day, that’s what matters most – more students learning the material, passing their exams, graduating their program and fulfilling their career goals.
Like many teachers around the country, facing the challenges of adapting in-person lectures and engagement in a classroom to a virtual learning format, Edwards and her peers at Northeast Alabama Community College have embraced new opportunities to continue their students’ momentum.
“Giving them multiple modalities to learn has been key to successful online learning,” said Edwards. “You can’t just get online and talk for four hours! Being able to offer them things to watch and interact with helps solidify the information with my students.”
Recently, when a course was restructured into a condensed portion of another class, having additional ways to share and encourage retention was important for Edwards.
“Our OB section used to be an entire semester,” she said. “Now it is just four lectures! To help my students, I posted a whole Picmonic playlist with quizzes on OB topics. The students in that first class did better on the exam than our traditional semester class.”
But it isn’t just the students who have benefitted from Picmonic. Experienced professionals and even teachers can get a refresher or gain new excitement around a topic by changing how they review it.
“Picmonic has definitely helped me as a teacher,” Edwards confesses. “There are times I’ve logged into Picmonic to refresh myself and it’s been very helpful. It’s great to have something other than textbooks, which can get a little wordy. As a career emergency department nurse, I like information clear and concise, and that’s what I get with Picmonic.”
While using Picmonic can benefit every kind of student, the team at Northeast Alabama Community College has found some students appreciate the efficiency of mnemonics for different reasons.
“It has been tremendous for students who have other, big demands in their life,” said Edwards. “Students who are parents or working have less time to dedicate to focused studying. But it is so helpful to have Picmonic available for short study opportunities that arise throughout the day. If these students get a quick break at work, or have a good 15 minutes, they can get in some real studying with Picmonic.”
“It’s growing in popularity here at Northeast Alabama Community College; outside of our ADN program,” said Edwards. “Our Paramedic and Medical Terminology programs are both hoping to start using Picmonic in their classes too.”
Edwards and her colleagues aren’t alone in making Picmonic a part of their classroom. If someone wants to explore Picmonic for their students, where do they begin? What should they know about getting their colleagues and department leadership on-board? Edwards has some suggestions:
- Don’t let the humor of Picmonic make it seem like it isn’t serious. Nursing can be fun and funny sometimes. Plus, the humor breaks up the monotony of studying.
- Just try a few yourself and see how it works. Pick a topic you don’t know to get started. Then, go back a few days later and see how it works.
- Have your students try it. Put up a few Picmonics and see if they like it and see if it resonates with the students who are struggling.
- The team at Picmonic will make it such a great experience. Even if the product wasn’t as great as it is (which isn’t a problem), the customer service is so wonderful, I’d still use it. Using Picmonic has been a game-changer for our students and faculty here at Northeast Alabama Community College.
Picmonic has helped hundreds of thousands of nursing, occupational therapy, physician assistant, medical and other students around the world. We are there from day one for students, and can make teaching the material engaging, efficient and a little humorous from time to time. If you are interested in learning more about using Picmonic for your class or your entire department, contact us today to get started.