Nurses' perceptions of online continuing education

BMC Med Educ. 2011 Oct 20:11:86. doi: 10.1186/1472-6920-11-86.


Background: There is increasing attention to online learning as a convenient way of getting professional training. The number and popularity of online nursing continuing education programs are increasing rapidly in many countries. Understanding these may contribute to designing these programs to maximize success. Also, knowing the perceptions and preferences in online learning aids development and orientation of online programs. The aims of this study are to show nurses' perceptions of online continuing education and to determine perceptions of various groups; area groups, working companies, frequency of computer usage and age.

Methods: The survey method was used in this quantitative study to reveal perception levels and relationship with related variables. Data were collected through an online instrument from a convenience sample of 1041 Registered Nurses (RNs) at an online bachelor's degree program. Descriptive and inferential analysis techniques were performed.

Results: Nurses generally have positive perceptions about online learning (X = 3.86; SD = 0.48). A significant difference was seen between nurses who used computers least and those with the highest computer usage [F (3, 1033) = 3.040; P < .05]. Neither nurses' ages nor lengths of working experience are significantly related to perceptions of online programs (r = -.013; P > .05 and r = -.036; P > .05, respectively). Nurses' perceptions are significantly different depending on the settings where they work [F (3,989) = 3.193; P < .05]. The difference between perceptions of nurses living in urban areas (X = 3.82; SD = .51) and those living in rural areas (X = 3.88; SD = .47) was not significant [t (994) = -1.570, P > .05].

Conclusions: We found that nurses regard online learning opportunities as suitable for their working conditions and needs. Nurses should be provided with continued training through online learning alternatives, regardless of age, working experience or area of residence.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Computers / statistics & numerical data
  • Education, Nursing, Continuing / methods*
  • Humans
  • Internet
  • Nurses / psychology*
  • Nurses / statistics & numerical data
  • Perception
  • Professional Practice Location
  • Rural Population
  • Time Factors
  • Urban Population