Alternatives to Surveillant Pedagogies and Technologies in Online Education for Clinical Professions

A Resource Guide

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Rachel K. Walker, PhD, RN, FAAN, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Jess Dillard-Wright, PhD, MA, RN, CNM, Augusta University

Shelley Mitchell, BA, BSN, MS, RN, Austin Community College

Heather Mangino, MSN, RN, University of Saint Joseph

Jaimee Watts-Isley, DNP APRN, University of North Carolina

Anna Valdez, Ph.D., RN, PHN, CEN, CFRN, CNE, FAEN, FAADN, Sonoma State University

Em Rabelais, PhD, MBE, MS, MA, RN, University of Illinois Chicago

Raeann G LeBlanc, PhD, DNP, AGPCNP, CHPN, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Jocelyn C. Anderson, PhD, RN, SANE-A, Pennsylvania State University College of Nursing

About This Resource Guide

Clinical professions such as nursing, though framed in terms of values such as caring, inclusion, and social justice, have long histories of applying surveillance and unjust policing tactics in both classroom and clinical settings (Bell, 2020a; Bell, 2020b; Dillard-Wright, 2019; Dillard-Wright, Hopkins Walsh, & Brown, 2020; Jeffers et al., 2020; Valderama-Wallace & Apeosa-Varano, 2019; Valderama-Wallace & Apeosa-Varano, 2020). Often the expectation and burden of transforming these harmful practices is unjustly placed directly on the persons being harmed, including learners and clinical educators marginalized within their professions and at large.

We acknowledge that clinical education programs are not homogeneous, and educators occupy the varying positionalities of power and privilege (even within the same institution). These differences in power and privilege may result in faculty who are unfamiliar with, or actively prevented from implementing alternatives to surveillant pedagogies and practices.

Advocating for meaningful, truly transformative curricular reforms is an act of courage and not without risk. This guide draws upon theory, research, and resources from multiple disciplines, including the emerging field of critical digital pedagogy, and was designed specifically to support such efforts.

We exhort faculty and administrators who occupy positionalities of greater power and privilege within their institutions to undertake the primary labor of transforming surveillant and oppressive practices and learning environments. Resist shifting this burden onto folks with less power in the system, such as learners (though listening to, believing, and centering their perspectives is critical).

The intention of this resource guide is not to shame or condemn individual faculty members or administrators for their decisions regarding surveillant #EdTech. We recognize the use of surveillant pedagogies is a profound structural challenge for the clinical professions — and therefore a challenge that demands structural solutions. Ultimately, violent tactics in clinical education will not be fully resolved until foundational institutional structures and oppressive cultures that lead us down this path of surveillance are eliminated (Burton, Gilpin, & Draughon Moret, 2020). As long as clinical education programs such as nursing schools live and die by high stakes, computer-adaptive board examinations like the NCLEX, educators and administrators will mobilize this as a shield to deflect agency and culpability for the choice to purchase and implement surveillent #EdTech. This deflection creates the argument that surveillance tools are essential for clinical education. Instead, use of these tools creates an adversarial relationship with students, and causes moral injury for educators.

Transforming surveillant pedagogies alone will not solve the problems of oppression and injustice in clinical education, though ideas presented here may reduce some harms. As a corollary, educators are obligated to reflect on the streams of power and capital that flow from these kinds of technologies and practices, recognize our own agency, and imagine alternate possibilities for the future of clinical education and thus, the healing professions.

Click here to access the Resource Guide (or click on the image below)

Image of first page of electronic resource guide

Additional Links


Rethinking Teaching 2020: Enriching Remote, Online, Hyflex, Blended and In-Person Teaching for Fall 2020, By Dr. Torrey Trust, UMASS Amherst College of Education,

Using Video to Assess Student Attention in Virtual Class Meetings, By Dr. Torrey Trust, UMASS Amherst College of Education,

Designing Authentic Online Discussions, By Dr. Torrey Trust, UMASS Amherst College of Education,


Universal Design For Learning

Principle of Engagement: Optimizing individual choice and autonomy,

Principle of Engagement: Optimizing relevance, value, and authenticity,

Principle of Engagement: Minimizing threats and distractions,

Principle of Action and Expression: Use multiple tools for construction and composition,


Teaching To Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom, By bell hooks,

Innovative Teaching Strategies in Nursing and Health-Related Professions, Edited by Martha Bradshaw, Beth Hultquist, and Debra Hagler