Target Populations for Online Education

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International Journal on E-Learning




For a variety of reasons, a rapidly increasing number of institutions of higher education have started to offer degrees and other educational programs fully online. Most institutions aim their online programs at mature part-time students. The assumption is that the increased convenience and flexibility that online programs offer and the fact that there is no need to attend traditional classroom settings make such programs particularly attractive to this group of students. However, there is relatively little evidence to bear out this assumption. This article describes a survey study addressing this issue. The survey was administered to students enrolled in a face-to-face MBA program, both as full-time and as part-time students. Interestingly, part-time students displayed a greater reluctance to enroll in online courses than full-time students. The survey did unearth some factors that had previously been overlooked and that seemed to more strongly influence students' willingness to enroll in online courses, namely previous knowledge of the topic, access to the instructor, perceived quality of the online courses, and hardware reliability.