Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Butler, Rebecca P.

Degree Name

Ed.D. (Doctor of Education)

Legacy Department

Department of Educational Technology, Research and Assessment


Adult education--Computer-assisted instruction; Continuing education--Computer-assisted instruction; Distance education; Educational technology; Educational technology; Adult education; Communication


The dissertation explored the perceptions of non-traditional adult learners enrolled in higher education at a distance, using computer mediated communication (CMC), tools. Twenty-one students participated in three research modes including surveys, interviews, and journaling.||Adult Learning Theory provided the theoretical framework for the data analysis. The research found that participants were open to using new communication devices when provided clear direction on how to use the technology as well as a perceived need for its application to their coursework. Students perceived communication devices were barriers to learning when technology required more work to learn, were deemed not useful past the course, and the class was not organized to use the tools effectively. Adult learners included in my study desired strong connections with CMC tools to interact with classmates and professor.||In addition to their educational pursuits, most of these adult learners had multiple responsibilities that impacted the perceived time needed to devote for learning new communication tools. Students embraced new communication technologies that fit their needs and enabled optimal use of their time. This study shares that when adult learners understand the purpose of new communication tools, they are more likely to adapt new technology for use in the future.


Advisors: Rebecca P. Butler.||Committee members: Laura Johnson; Sharon Smaldino.


166 pages




Northern Illinois University

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