Intrinsic motivation, for any learner, depends on their internal drive and individual interests. This differs from extrinsic motivations, which are linked to pursuit of rewards or avoidance of adverse outcomes. A learner may join a course due to extrinsic motivation, and then become intrinsically motivated when they find learning enjoyable and rewarding.
As an educator or trainer, you can help boost a learner’s intrinsic motivation by giving them the opportunity to feel a connection with their own learning, increasing their internal drive. You can also offer variety in your course materials, allowing the learner to become personally engaged with the subject matter.
Online learning carries its own set of challenges and opportunities for learner engagement. Learners may have more opportunity to “tune out” of presentations and discussions in the absence of face-to-face contact. However, evolving digital learning technology ensures that tools for engaging learners in online learning environments are constantly becoming available. Here are some eLearning best practices which you can follow to motivate students.
Make it fun!
Making learning fun is key to motivation. Learners who engage with a course because they enjoy what they are doing are far more likely to persevere with it than those who feel that they are only doing what is expected of them. Shift the focus away from the outcomes of summative assessments and onto the process of learning instead. Right from the outset, make an effort find a way to draw learners in. Play with different modes of communication, such as video or social media, and perhaps set up some ice-breaking activities.
Harness learner expertise
All learners, but especially online learners (many of whom are adult students who may have been active in the workforce for several years), bring pre-existing skills and knowledge to a learning environment. If you listen to their views and relate to them as unique individuals, they may be able to make significant contributions to the learning process.
Use leadership techniques
Leadership techniques focus on motivating, rather than micro-managing. Successful use of these techniques will make learners feel coached rather than dominated. They are then more likely to feel confident about contributing to discussions. The more learners contribute, the more they feel engaged, with subject material and with their own learning journeys.
Make real-world connections
Connecting subject matter to events in the real world is a great way to increase motivation. By relating course materials to relevant current affairs, or to hypothetical situations or career scenarios which resonate with learners, you can bring the subject alive. Online learning environments provide excellent opportunities for discussion or even role-playing activities, through live chat functions or asynchronous discussion forums.
Enable students to track their own progress
The digital environment also offers options for learners to track their own progress. Journals or blogs can be useful for this, providing an opportunity for reflection. Learners who practice reflection will develop awareness of their strengths and weaknesses and learn what they need and want to work on, going forward.