Due to societal changes there is a growing need for distant and adult learning. The reason to participate in education and the choices that students make may differ. In this study the factors age, gender, rate of studies and parenthood have been analysed in order to see how these relate to different motivational factors for choosing a web-based course. The data has been based on a questionnaire, covering 1270 beginner students in the spring semester of 2011 and contains their background characteristics and items focusing on their motives. These could be categorized into four different motives: (1) Format, (2) Content, (3) Economic, and (4) Curiosity. The results showed that Format was regarded as the most important factor for choosing an Internet-based course, followed by Content, Curiosity and the Economic factor. Furthermore, group differences were investigated with respect to age, gender, parenthood and rate of study. The findings show that distant education fulfils an important function for mature students, women and students with children. These groups presumably consider the flexibility that web-based courses provide advantageous. Family situations or working-life obligations may contribute to this. Changes in people’s working lives are likely to continue, which presumably increases the demand for flexible learning situations.
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