Can virtual learning environments be used as research platforms?
Evidence and practice    

Can virtual learning environments be used as research platforms?

Adrienne Grech Senior staff nurse, Mater Dei Hospital, Msida, Malta
Maria Cassar Senior lecturer, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Malta, Msida, Malta

Background Many higher education institutions use virtual learning environments (VLEs), with one in seven students learning exclusively online. The use of online research methods and approaches has also gained momentum over the past decade.

Aim To explore the use of VLEs for qualitative research.

Discussion Using VLEs for purposes beyond teaching and learning functions offers various opportunities, providing a method of collecting data that has minimal costs, requires few resources, offers maximum flexibility, has apt technical support and engages participants. However, it also has several challenges.

Conclusion This study supports the proposed potential value and appropriateness of using VLEs to collect data. The function of VLEs may be significantly widened at reasonable cost and challenge. Work in this regard is encouraged.

Implication for practice VLEs may be used in nurse education research, which stands to benefit from this opportunity at reasonable cost and challenge.

Nurse Researcher. doi: 10.7748/nr.2018.e1568


Grech A, Cassar M (2018) Can virtual learning environments be used as research platforms? Nurse Researcher. doi: 10.7748/nr.2018.e1568

Peer review

This article has been subject to external double-blind peer review and has been checked for plagiarism using automated software


Conflict of interest

None declared

Published online: 08 November 2018

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