The University of Western Australia
Faculty of Health, Engineering and Science
School of Psychology and Social Science
The availability of online courses has continued to grow over recent years with more students now turning to online offerings. The flexibility offered through online learning is attractive to prospective students with some of the benefits including reduced costs, and the potential to increase and diversify the student body. Online courses provide the advantage of reaching those who may be ‘too busy’ for traditional study, and offer flexibility through anywhere, anytime access. While these benefits may attract prospective learners to the online environment there remains little empirical evidence for the reasons students actually make the decision to study online over more traditional means. Here, it is important to understand students’ motivations for choosing an online course. Without this information universities cannot assess if their programs are effectively designed to meet students’ expectations, or that students are sufficiently informed and prepared for instruction and learning in the online environment. As part of a PhD, research is currently underway investigating what students expect when commencing an online course at Edith Cowan University (ECU). This paper discusses findings relating to the motivation and reasons why first year students decide to study a course online at ECU.