J Adv Nurs, vol. 66, issue 12 pp. 2785-2795
AIM: This paper presents research on nursing and healthcare students' experiences and use of e-learning. BACKGROUND: The inception of e-learning in higher education is supported by a policy background and technological developments, yet little is known of student experience and use in the United Kingdom. METHODS: Conducted in 2007 and 2008, this study employed a mixed methods approach. An initial quantitative questionnaire was completed by 25 Higher Education Institutions and nine case study sites were visited. In the sites 41 students took part in focus groups and 35 staff were interviewed. FINDINGS: Twenty-four Higher Education Institutions used a virtual learning environment and all respondents used e-learning to enable access to course materials and web-based learning resources. Three main themes were identified from student interviews, 'Pedagogic use'; 'Factors inhibiting use' and 'Facilitating factors to engagement'. Student's main engagement with e-learning was at an instructivist level and as a support to existing face-to-face modes of delivery. Student use of Web 2.0 was limited, although a number were using social software at home. Limited computer access, computing skills, technical issues and poor peer commitment affected use. Motivation and relevance to the course and practice, in addition to an appreciation of the potential for student-centred and flexible learning, facilitated use. CONCLUSION: There is scope to broaden the use of e-learning that would engage students in the social construction of knowledge. In addition, experiences of e-learning use could be improved if factors adversely affecting engagement were addressed.
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