An analysis of the utilisation of e-learning platform at a selected nursing school in Rwanda : a participatory action research study.
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Background: E-learning is a commonplace in nursing and healthcare professional education, and generally the importance of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and the internet in tertiary education is recognised. The use of technology is a policy directive in Rwanda. Aim of the study: The aim of this study was two-fold, that is to: (i) Collaboratively analyse the utilisation of the e-learning platform in selected nursing school campuses at University of Rwanda (UR), in Rwanda; (ii) Develop a middle-range theory on the implementation of e-learning in selected nursing school campuses at UR, in Rwanda. Methods: Participatory Action Research, and convergence parallel mixed methods (quantitative and qualitative data) also known as concurrent triangulation design were used, where quantitative and qualitative data were collected simultaneously as recommended by Creswell and Clark (2007). Quantitative data was analysed using SPSS 23, and for qualitative data, the framework of grounded theory by Strauss and Corbin guided the analysis. Triangulation of results was done in chapter six of discussion of the results. Results: The quantitative findings of this study indicated that in e-learning, a blended mode was used and included 40% of face-to-face, and 60% of online teaching. ICT was reported to be pivotal in teaching and learning. Of 44 nurse educators, 95.5% reported using ICT applications to prepare presentations for lessons; 95.5% reported using ICT to provide feedback and/or assess students’ learning. Of 227 students, 96.9% used the internet to access full web-placed courses, and 93% for communication with their lecturers. Qualitative findings reflected E-learning as the core phenomenon of the investigation. E-learning was conceptualised as a mechanism to advance a political agenda, as a student-centred approach, as blended learning, and as a tool to open access to education for working nurses and midwives. The context of e-learning in nursing education is subjected to both internal and external influences in which education, health and technology originate. Data from this study indicated a number of intervening conditions which influenced the process of developing the middle range theory. There are two major processes involved in this model: Catalyst agents and hybrid teaching and learning. The catalyst agent process focuses on institutional support for students and teachers. The process of hybrid teaching and learning represents the actual facilitation of teaching and learning, through two phases: course development, and course delivery. The outcome of this is to improve the quality of nursing education, to fast-track production of the nursing workforce, to enhance nursing care and services, to enhance collaborative partnership, and to promote lifelong learning. Conclusion: E-learning is inspiring many in nursing education, and its success depends on adequate technology-based tools and guidelines that can be used in the establishment of a supported network learning space by using technology in teaching and learning. Keywords: blended learning, web-based learning, e-learning, distance learning, ICT in education.