JOURNAL ARTICLE

A descriptive study of registered nurses' experiences with web-based learning

Lynda Atack, James Rankin
Journal of Advanced Nursing 2002, 40 (4): 457-65
12421405

AIMS: To describe the experiences of registered nurses (RNs) who enrolled in a web-based course from either their home or the workplace.

RATIONALE: In order to maintain competency in rapidly changing health care systems, and meet the challenge of overcoming traditional barriers to continuing education, RNs need access to innovative educational delivery methods. As yet, little is known about the web-based learners' experience, particularly when courses are accessed from the nursing practice setting.

METHODS: The article focuses on the results from questionnaires conducted with 57 RNs enrolled in a web-based, postdiploma course. These findings emanate from a larger study using survey method and focus group interviews. Nurses' experiences were measured using the Online Learner Support Instrument which was developed and tested for use in the study.

RESULTS: Most nurses found the course highly satisfactory. Not all experiences were positive however, and a number of challenges were faced. Access to the course from home was reported as very satisfactory for the majority, while work users encountered a number of serious barriers such as insufficient time and limited computer access. The RNs made significant gains in their learning with e-mail, Internet, keyboarding and word processing skills during the 16-week course. Lack of computer skills, erroneous perceptions of course workload and inadequate preparation for web learning were largely responsible for the majority of withdrawals.

CONCLUSION: Web-based learning can be an effective mode of delivery for nursing education. Advance preparation by educational institutions, employers and prospective students is essential. Teachers, peers, technology, course design and the learning environment are key variables that influence the learners' experience and success.

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