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Preregistration adult nursing students' experiences of online learning: a qualitative study

25 June 2020
Volume 29 · Issue 12



Online learning (OL) is widely used in UK preregistration nursing programmes and the latest Nursing and Midwifery Council professional education standards state digital technology must be embedded in the curriculum. An exploration of preregistration adult nursing students' experiences of OL considers how technology supports learning theory and practice, and assists in designing and delivering effective OL in future programmes.


This study aimed to explore preregistration adult nursing students' OL experiences.


Two focus groups with students were held and thematic analysis carried out.


Three main themes emerged regarding OL: advantages, disadvantages and preferences. The main advantages included time, accessibility and convenience, being able to revisit learning and the variety of approaches. Disadvantages included inadequate communication, support and interaction. Students preferred an adequate balance of OL with traditional teaching, more communication, synchronous OL, preparation and support.


OL is valuable to adult nursing students, providing convenience and flexibility. While it has advantages, the disadvantages and preferences require addressing to ensure future programmes are effective and meet nursing students' requirements.

Because of the rise of digital technology and the arrival of the internet in the 1990s (Gagnon et al, 2013), online learning (OL) has evolved and been successfully incorporated and expanded in many areas, including private, public, corporate and educational settings (Salyers et al, 2014). OL has gained global momentum over the past 10 years, especially within higher education (HE) (Taft et al, 2011).

A general definition of OL is learning that is supported using information and communication technology (Moule et al, 2011). Advocates of OL suggest its constructivist pedagogy and student centredness complement the way in which adults learn (Yoo and Huang, 2013). OL is flexible and promotes deeper levels of learning (Webb et al, 2017). Despite these benefits, several problems are associated with OL, including poor accessibility, a lack of computer literacy and social isolation (Jokinen and Mikkonen, 2013).

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