ATI Nursing Education Publishes Next Generation NCLEX Guidebook for Nurse Educators

When educators have been teaching students to prepare for a licensing exam using question types that have remained consistent for nearly a generation, how do they prepare students when major changes are introduced to the exam?

This is the situation currently facing nurse educators across the U.S., who prepare nursing students for licensure through the National Council Licensure Examination, or NCLEX exam, which is maintained by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN).

The NCSBN is introducing significant changes to the NCLEX in 2023 so the test more accurately measures students’ clinical judgment, or their ability to apply their nursing knowledge in concrete situations to protect the health and safety of their patients. More than three years in the making, the Next Generation NCLEX (NGN) introduces new question types that are more complex and difficult than questions students have been prepared to answer for the past 25 years — an initiative that has created uncertainty and anxiety among nurse educators.

ATI Nursing Education, an Ascend Learning brand, has created a free educational tool to alleviate educators’ apprehension and build confidence that they can meet the challenge: the Next Generation NCLEX Guidebook, a comprehensive resource that helps nurse educators understand the actual changes coming to the test and how to prepare for them as well as the theoretical and conceptual underpinnings of the changes — and strategies to prepare nurses for both the NGN and day-to-day practice treating clients.

Janean Johnson, DNP, RN, CNE and nursing strategist at ATI Nursing Education, said that the publication focuses significantly on NCSBN adding more clinical judgment to the exam, a critical skill for nurses — especially those in entry-level positions.

“Clinical judgment is necessary for nurses to recognize and respond appropriately to urgent changes in a client’s condition based on evidence presented,” Johnson said. “Strong clinical judgement on behalf of nurses results in improved client outcomes and fewer nursing errors.”

Filled with strategies and details to equip nurse educators across the country with the knowledge needed to prepare nurses for both the NGN and day-to-day practice treating clients, the Next Gen NCLEX Guidebook is available for download here:

NASM and AFAA’s Optima Event Wins Gold Stevie Award® for Best Educational Conference

Ascend Learning is pleased to announce that Optima, an annual conference presented by two of its brands — the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) and the Athletics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA) — received a Gold Stevie® Award for Best Educational Event at the 18th Annual International Business Awards®.

The Stevie® award recognizes best-in-class virtual events that took place in 2020. Winners were selected from more than 3,700 nominations across 63 nations and territories.

“Optima is the premier event for our community to learn, network and share the latest science and trends,” said Laurie McCartney, President of Ascend’s Fitness & Wellness segment, which includes NASM and AFAA. “When the pandemic forced the world into a lockdown, we had to quickly pivot to build and deploy an exceptional virtual experience. Thanks to the dedication and hard work of our teams, we reached more members of our community than ever before.”

The Optima 2020 conference included 100 educational sessions for Continuing Education Units, guided workouts, and valuable opportunities to network with leaders and peers in a state-of-the-art virtual environment.

Some of the highlights that helped make the event a success include:

  • 30,000 simultaneous attendees at any time during the 4-day event
  • Zero down-time with full redundancy to address spikes in traffic
  • More than 120,000 registrations and 120 hours of streaming content
  • Gamification with an engagement leaderboard and prizes 3x a day
  • More than 65 expert speakers and 18 sponsor booths

Building on the success of the 2020 event, NASM and AFAA today announced that their seventh annual Optima Conference will include a registration option for free access to learning sessions, exclusive insights, and related knowledge focused on the latest science and trends in fitness and wellness. The conference will be accessible online from Oct. 21-23, 2021, with complimentary registration open now at

Inspiration, Gratitude, Affirmation and Excitement: Ascend Shares Thought Leadership in EdTech at 2021 ASU-GSV Summit

Inspiration, gratitude, affirmation and excitement for the future — these are the takeaways for the five leaders from Ascend Learning who contributed their thought leadership as panelists and moderators at the 2021 ASU-GSV Summit, Aug. 9-11 in San Diego.

Now in its 12th year, the annual event — a partnership between Arizona State University and Global Silicon Valley — connects leading minds focused on transforming society and business around learning and work.

Speaking on topics ranging from the state of medical EdTech and the student mental health crisis to AR/VR, simulations training and the “Pre-K to Gray” journey, leaders from Ascend were thrilled to reconnect with the global community of leaders driving positive change in education.


Ada Woo, chief of staff and senior director in Ascend’s assessment sciences unit, joined a panel of leading minds to explore how AI is currently incorporated into learning platforms, and potential for the technology in the future.

“It was inspiring to be among EdTech innovators who care deeply about improving learning outcomes,” Ada said. “I am especially excited about our work in education technology and Ascend leading the way in workforce education.”

Deb Serri, vice president of simulation at Ascend, also came away with renewed inspiration from a panel that explored the intersection of AR, VR, and simulations with on-the-job learning. She said she looks forward to sharing that inspiration with her teams, which develop simulations for multiple Ascend brands including Kognito, ATI Nursing Education, National Healthcareer Association, Public Safety Group, National Academy of Sports Medicine, and Jones & Bartlett Learning.

“ASU-GSV was a great learning opportunity, and I am inspired by the exceptional talent present in the EdTech space,” Deb said. “I’m looking forward to bringing that inspiration back to Ascend.”


Moderating a panel with two physicians, an associate dean of a medical school, and two founders of some of the most advanced simulation companies in medical education is a welcome challenge for any professional in the EdTech space.

Jeff Jones, Ascend’s senior vice president of strategy and corporate development, appreciated the opportunity to gain new perspectives from such a group while moderating the discussion, “The State of Medical EdTech.”

“We explored a number of issues and opportunities in medical education with an emphasis on producing caring clinicians focused on producing the best outcomes for patients,” Jeff said. “I am truly grateful for their time and the expertise they shared with me and the audience at ASU-GSV Summit.”


As manager of strategic initiatives and partnerships (HigherEd) at Ascend’s Kognito, Darren Jones, Ed.D., understands the evolving role of technology in meeting the social, emotional and academic needs of college and university students. As a panelist at the summit, Jones came away confident in Ascend and Kognito’s leadership in the mental health tech space, and its role in helping faculty and staff to provide aid to students as they return to campuses this fall amidst the ongoing challenges created by the pandemic.

“I left the conference feeling affirmed in the work we do at Kognito,” Darren said. “We are pushing the envelope while meeting people where they are, so that we empower others to contribute to safe and supportive environments.”


With more than three decades of experience as a leader at mission-driven businesses in healthcare and education services, Ascend CEO Greg Sebasky has seen how technology has driven lifelong learning prior to COVID. Greg was one of several EdTech CEOs in a panel exploring the role of EdTech in the future.

“My opportunity to participate in a panel with leaders from K-12, Higher Education, and Corporate Learning was a privilege,” Greg said. “We are committing ourselves to work together to accelerate the learning pathways that can move people into careers of their choice, where they have the knowledge and skills to have an impact in their communities. Very exciting!”

Ascend has sponsored the ASU-GSV Summit for three years, and our team members have been attending the event since 2015, gaining knowledge, expanding our network and bringing back fresh perspectives to Ascend. We are proud to sponsor events where we can make a collective impact in the EdTech world and further our mission to change lives through education. A special thanks to all our leaders for speaking on behalf of Ascend at this key industry event!



Video and photo highlights from the 2021 ASU-GSV Summit are available on the GSV YouTube Channel: Direct links to the panels featuring Ascend Learning leaders are below.