Effective e-learning for health professionals and students—barriers and their solutions. A systematic review of the literature—findings from the HeXL project

Introduction : In 2003/4 the Information Management Research Institute, Northumbria University, conducted a research project to identify the barriers to e-learning for health professionals and students. The project also established possible ways to overcome these barriers. The North of England Workforce Development Confederation funded the project. Methodology : The project comprised a systematic review of the literature on barriers to and solutions/critical success factors for e-learning in the health field. Fifty-seven references were suitable for analysis. This review was supplemented by a questionnaire survey of learners and an interview study of learning providers to ensure that data identified from the literature were grounded in reality. Results : The main barriers are: requirement for change; costs; poorly designed packages; inadequate technology; lack of skills; need for a component of faceto- face teaching; time intensive nature of e-learning; computer anxiety. A range of solutions can solve these barriers. The main solutions are: standardization; strategies; funding; integration of e-learning into the curriculum; blended teaching; user friendly packages; access to technology; skills training; support; employers paying e-learning costs; dedicated work time for e-learning. Conclusions : The authors argue that librarians can play an important role in e-learning: providing support and support materials; teaching information skills; managing and providing access to online information resources; producing their own e-learning packages; assisting in the development of other packages.