Get access

Exploring the underlying factors influencing e-learning adoption in nurse education


Correspondence to O. Petit dit Dariel: e-mail:



To report a study undertaken to explore the underlying factors influencing e-learning adoption in nurse education.


Despite e-learning's high profile it has not been readily integrated into teaching practice in nurse education. Previous research has identified generic, cross-disciplinary factors but has left out ‘soft’ factors.


The study adopted an exploratory descriptive design.


Q-methodology was used to explore e-learning adoption in a Division of Nursing located in an institution of Higher Education in the UK. Between September–December 2009, 38 participants were recruited to participate in Q-sorts and post-sort interviews. The Q-sort data were factor analysed and the interviews were coded to their respective factors to develop in-depth narratives.


Four factors were identified: ‘E-learning advocates’ saw e-learning's potential to improve nurse education and prepare future nurses for their evolving role; the ‘Humanists’ had avoided e-learning because they valued human interaction; the ‘Sceptics’ doubted that technology could improve learning outcomes; and the ‘Pragmatics,’ only used e-learning as a tool to post lecture notes online to supplement what they covered in class.


The findings point to the variety of responses existing among nurse academics faced with integrating e-learning into their teaching. Moving beyond the binary labels commonly attributed to those considered either ‘early adopters’ or ‘laggards,’ the findings contribute to the literature by revealing a wider breadth of views and responses towards technology. Acknowledging these views can inform future e-learning strategies and lead to improvement in e-learning use in nurse education.