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students and maintenance. Additional costs are involved if the hardware or software breaks down, and repairs or replacement is needed (Meurer, 2017). Learning institutions may be limited in the number of simulators available due to cost, limiting the amount of time students can use the simulator. Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused many schools to close or limit the number of students in the classroom, limiting or preventing access to the current technologies, creating a need to find other ways of providing opportunities for students to practices these skills. Anticipated ChallengesWith the recent COVID-19 pandemic, the current state of technology faces several challenges. The first challenge is the closure of schools or limitations to the number of students allowed in the class. These closures limit the instructor's ability to review materials needed to meet course objectives and learning outcomes. A second challenge due to school closures is students will lack the instructor's immediate feedback when attending class on campus. A third challenge with the current technology is that many healthcare sites used for clinical training do not allow nursing students, limiting their ability to practice hands-on communication and other skills needed to provide safe nursing care. This also limits the instructor's ability to provide training and feedback to prepare students to provide safe patient care. Overcoming ChallengesEmerging technologies exist that can address the challenges with the current practice. Implementation of a system that allows students to view lecture material and practice communication, collaboration, critical thinking, assessment, and other clinical skills from anywhere combat the current inflexible technology. Students can review the material as many times as need to prepare for tests and clinical experiences. With virtual clinical simulations, 11
students can safely practice needed skills in a safe, controlled environment from anywhere as many times as necessary. They also provide essential feedback to promote learning. Needs Assessment Summary of FindingsThe needs assessment revealed gaps and room for improvement with the current state of technology. Stakeholders found alternate means for onsite simulation lab and clinical experienceswere needed for both faculty and students due to the recent closures and restrictions of schools and clinical sites related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Other reasons for this need include personal illness and unsafe driving conditions. Students expressed frustration with missed opportunities for hands practice with specific skills due to a lack of available patients and opportunities at clinical sites. Student surveys also revealed a lack of time to revisit difficult concepts at clinical sites due to the instructor having multiple students to supervise at clinical sites. The surveys also indicated that most students havea high comfort level using technology, and many have used virtual simulations in previous high school or college courses. Students that have used virtual simulation technology in the past