After fifteen years of teaching 100% online, I can peremptorily say that, for teachers to be a source of motivation, they must be very personable. One must build rapport with students (without being smarmy), and as ethically possible as a teacher, so that one’s online students “feel” the connection to another real human being.
Additionally, if your course is engaging, and you can demonstrate your passion for the subject, that can go a really long way. Your online students can often get swept along with both the enthusiasm and dedication you demonstrate during their sessions.
The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically.
Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Here is a great interview conducted with the professor of Instructional Systems Technology at Indiana University, the author of a book about motivation and retention with online technologies – Dr. Curtis J. Bonk.
In this interview, he shares very useful techniques of motivating online students and taking advantage of online learning environments.
- Teachers/Parents seldom spend a lot of time thinking about how to motivate the students and get them interested in learning. But often, the simplest way is overlooked – involving students in setting up their own learning space from the ground up. One of the biggest mistakes teachers and parents can make, when it comes to developing good learners, is to limit their learning to the classroom. Often, the school is considered as the primary source of instruction, but the social, intellectual and academic growth should extend beyond the walls of the classroom, which will give them wings to fly and soar to new heights!
1. Fine-tune the challenge to online students
We’re most motivated to learn when the task before us is matched to our level of skill: not so easy (as it would be boring), and not so hard (as it would be frustrating). Deliberately fashion the learning exercise so that your online students are working at the edge of their abilities and knowledge, and keep increasing the difficulty as they improve.
2. Start with the question, not the answer
Memorising information is boring. Discovering the solution to a puzzle is invigorating. Present material to be learned by your online students as a live question begging to be explored.
3. Encourage online students to beat their personal best
Some learning tasks, like memorising the multiplication tables, or a list of names or facts, are simply not interesting in themselves. Generate motivation by encouraging students to compete against themselves: run through the material once to establish a baseline, then keep track of how much they improve (in speed, in accuracy) each time.
4. Connect abstract learning to concrete situations
Adopt the case-study method: apply abstract theories and concepts to a real-world scenarios, using these formulations to analyse and make sense of situations involving real people and real stakes.
When possible, put together a learning group, or have online students find learning partners with whom they share their moments of discovery and matters of confusion.
6. Go deep
Almost any subject is interesting once you explore it. Assign the task of becoming the world’s expert on one small aspect of the material they have to learn—then extend your online students’ new expertise outward by emphasising how the piece they know so well connects to all the other pieces they need to know about.
Before starting the course, set up somewhere where you can have some peace, as all learning requires sustained concentration. Don’t try to take an online course on an iPad, you will be seriously disappointed. Invest in a laptop, or the big iPhone (it can do just about everything a laptop can do). Others may know other tech considerations, but I just know that students who try to wing it on an iPad are crying by the end of the semester.
if your teacher sucks, is follow this practice:
- keep a diary and before you read a single thing, write yourself out as to what you think you’re going to learn (even before the course starts).
- Be crazy. Be wild. Be honest. Get your brain hooked on the subject, creating questions about it for yourself. …When you get the text, look at any questions in the book and write answers BEFORE reading anything. Again, this sets your mind up to be curious and it is the curiosity that will motivate you. Write more questions.
In order to improve the quality of sessions, please consider:
- Planning for fun, and amusing tasks, that feature games;
- Allowing online students to negotiate ways of planning for parts of the class;
- Utilising a great variety of teaching materials, including videos, audio recordings, dioramas, realia, etc.;
- Listening to your online students’ concerns and let them know that you will do your best to help them out.