Revisiting e‐learning effectiveness: proposing a conceptual model

George Macgregor (Information Management & Systems, Liverpool Business School, Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool, UK)
James Turner (Learning Innovation and Development, Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool, UK)

Interactive Technology and Smart Education

ISSN: 1741-5659

Publication date: 20 August 2009



The use of e‐learning is largely predicated upon the assumption that it can facilitate improvements in student learning and therefore can be more effective than conventional techniques. This assumption has been supported by some in the literature but has been questioned by a continuing body of contrary or indifferent evidence. The purpose of this paper is to improve the theoretical understanding of the variables influencing e‐learning effectiveness, the manner in which these variables have been studied to date, and to propose a suitable conceptual model of e‐learning effectiveness to aid its evaluation.


The paper revisits and critically reviews major contributions to the e‐learning effectiveness literature.


Owing to a variety of issues prevalent in the literature, it is clear that the variables influencing effectiveness are multifarious and few researchers impose adequate controls or factor them into research designs. Drawing on the work of Dewey, Englebart, and Kaplan, a conceptual framework of e‐learning effectiveness is proposed. This model maps out the key variables involved in the study of e‐learning effectiveness and the interactions between variables.


It is anticipated that such a model will assist researchers in developing future evaluative studies which are both sufficiently robust and holistic in design. It is also hypothesised that studies designed using the conceptual model will be more likely to yield results corroborating the ability of e‐learning to affect improvements in student learning.



Macgregor, G. and Turner, J. (2009), "Revisiting e‐learning effectiveness: proposing a conceptual model", Interactive Technology and Smart Education, Vol. 6 No. 3, pp. 156-172.

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