This paper reports on the use of an online, resource-based learning (RBL) approach in first year psychology at Deakin University. Differences between on- and off-campus students that emerged are examined in the context of the learning goals and study approaches of the two student groups and their attitudes to using computers. Unlike the on-campus students who were less positive about working with computers and reported confusion about how and what to study for the unit, the off-campus students reported feeling confident they had a good study strategy and were more positive about computers. The off-campus students also reported that they spent more time working with electronic resources and attached greater value to them. While all students valued the prescribed resources, the off-campus students found some of the optional, electronic resources valuable because they added to the learning experience. These students also reported greater use of the computer-mediated communication available as part of the online learning environment, and valued this functionality more highly than did the on-campus students. These findings highlight the need to take into account learner characteristics when designing learning environments that cater for individual differences and preferences. While online-supported RBL approaches have the potential to cater to the diverse needs of students, learning environments need to be designed, structured and delivered so the learning experience can be customized to the needs of different student cohorts, while preserving the overarching, pedagogical goals.
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