Understanding Motivations for Internet Use in Distance Education

Uses and Gratifications (U & G) is a communications theory paradigm developed to understand media-use motivations. This research paradigm has recently been applied to understand motivations for Internet use. Internet U & G typically orient to distinct process-based, content-based, and socially based motivations for use of the network. This study applies U & G to examine the Internet usage motivations of technology students enrolled in an Internet-enabled distance education course and finds that digital content is highly sought after by students in Internet-supported distance education classes. Distance education students are also motivated to use Internet communication resources to offset the lack of social interaction found in normal classrooms. Students' Internet usage process motivations actually diverge into two distinct areas, related generally to searching versus browsing in the support of learning objectives.