Virtual learning environments are becoming more widely used. They are excellent at combatting a huge number of challenges faced in the sphere of learning; such as larger student populations and reduced budgets. But, learners sometimes find it easy to lose motivation in a Virtual Learning Environment. It’s not difficult to lose motivation in a traditional classroom if you aren’t interested in the subject, and even easier to let your motivation slip when no one is standing over your shoulder ensuring you do the work.
So, how do you motivate students to keep engaging with the subject, when they’re behind a screen? Students can be excellent at hiding their lack of motivation and engagement, and you need to be on top of your game to recognise when things are slipping. It’s far less trouble to keep them engaged in the first place than it is to try and motivate them once they’ve lost their drive. So, how do we ensure they’re getting the most from their learning, and you’re getting the most from them?
Engagement equals motivation
It’s human nature to be lazy, why waste energy? People want to do things using as little energy as possible, so if we can get away with not attending something, not paying attention or letting others do the work for us, often we will. This behaviour becomes extremely noticeable in a VLE for students. Teachers will see that some students will slow down their use of the Virtual Learning Environment software as time goes on; this is them losing motivation and their engagement levels slipping. There’s a direct correlation between the success of students and their VLE use (which you can read about here) so we know it’s imperative that we keep students engaged with their learning. However, we also know, that accessing a VLE for learners 100 times or 100,000 times, doesn’t necessarily make for greater success. Surprising eh? Take a look at our article to read more about this.
It’s all well and good appreciating this challenge, but even better knowing how to combat this as a teacher. Here are some pointers.
- Communicate with your students. Keep in touch, however that may be. Talk to them through a messaging centre, arrange 1-to-1 time or ask direct questions in a group discussion. The second students feel forgotten about, they start to disengage.
- Set expectations. If we know what is expected of us, it’s a lot easier to apply yourself to those expectations. The flexibility a VLE can provide is one of the top benefits, but it’s also one of the most dangerous. Letting your students know what you need from them in terms of participation from the get-go, will help you down the line.
- Set goals. Working with each individual to set goals for progress gives your students the opportunity to take ownership of their learning. If they’re accountable for their progress, you will start to notice them sticking to their goals more rigidly.
- Monitor progress. Don’t stop monitoring and reviewing your students. There is always room for improvement, and reviewing results on a regular basis will help you recognise when things are slipping.
- Peer collaboration. Set tasks where your students need to evaluate content from a group discussion. This reduces the temptation to log in to the VLE, show your face and then stop paying attention.