Ros Aini posed a question in my previous post, "Online learning environment can demotivate online learners. What do you think are the aspects that contribute to this matter?"
I am going to try an attempt answering this question based on my experience and what I have read/heard. If you think you disagree, please help me learn more by sharing your thoughts. If you agree and would like to add and give more clarity, please feel free to do so.
First let me clarify, online learning environment can demotivate online learners is a generalization. What aspects of online learning environment kill learner motivation?
1. Choosing the wrong learning environment for your learner
Your research should help you identify which is the most suitable learning environment in which your learner will learn. A virtual world such as second life may not be suitable for all online learners. You may realize that your learner prefers to read/write than actually 'be' in an environment where they can explore.
Tip: Always arrive at a solution (whether online or otherwise) based on research. You will be closer to getting it right.
2. When the learner control is zero
When you opt for a learning environment, ensure that it is designed such that the learner can decide their own learning path. Most online learners prefer to decide what they learn and how they learn. Avoid forcing your learners down a structured learning path. Several clients insist that the Next button be disabled till they attempt a practice. Give them the choice. If the practice is challenging enough, they are going to want to take it.
Tip: Give them several options such read, listen, do, experiment, share, and so on to learn.
3. When navigation is poor
Navigation plays an important role. Think about this, you have used a virtual world (VW) to teach. Your learner spends ages learning how to navigate within this VW and is not comfortable with the controls. Finally, he gives up frustrated about the fact that he is not getting it right. Poor navigation makes the learners feel dumb. And, no one enjoys this feeling. Navigation can kill motivation even if the training material is really good.
Tip: Ensure navigation is intuitive. The learner should spend minimum or no time learning how to navigate in the learning environment.
4. When system specifications are not shared upfront
Imagine this. You have provided several hyperlinks to blogs and wikis. The organization in which your learner works provides restricted Internet access. The learner tries to click on the link, but gets a 404 error. How frustrating would this be for the learner?
Tip: Always state the system and bandwidth requirements. Or design keeping the learner's bandwidth in mind.
Other than these, what else could demotivate an online learner?
- A know-it-all-peer who makes the learner feel very small, thereby making him reluctant to share his thoughts online again
- The learner may constantly doubt the authenticity of content and feel confused about what to internalize
- No access or an opportunity to interact with 'true' experts
- A learner may feel overwhelmed with the amount of information that is out there