Learner Intent and Online Courses

Randall S. Davies
Indiana University


As the Internet and the use of technology becomes more prevalent in education, promised educational benefits have not always materialized. And the advantage of using technology to enhance a learning experience does not always lead to learning. There are many factors that affect learning. Of these, a student’s desire to learn may be among the most significant. Online learning offers many potential benefits but tends not to produce learning unless the participating students’ main intention is to learn and not just to get the course done. When the design of online courses deliberately or inadvertently promotes course completion as a primary goal or when the content and activities required of the online learner are too easy, students often abandon any real intention of learning. Understanding learner intent is especially important in online learning situations. Yet instructional designers have typically avoided concepts like volition and intent. These more illusive components of learning may provide valuable insights leading to a better understanding of how we should teach and design online courses.

About the Author(s)...

Randall S. Davies, currently conducts research and evaluations for the Indiana Center for Evaluation at Indiana University. Dr. Davies specializes in research involving educational technology. His scholarly interests include methodologies for improving teaching and learning and the use of technology in education. He can be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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