Motivation in MOOC

How to engage and motivate adult learners?

Viplav asks:

What skills do learners require to navigate these new learning environments? Does it require that they be motivated, socially enabled and have certain Critical Literacies? Should we worry about motivation or presume it? Is learning an art that can be acquired through reflection and practice or is it a science that can/should be rigorously taught?

Motivation is one of the most important driving factors in participating in MOOCs, as Doug discusses the problems here.

How were participants engaged and motivated in MOOC?  Stephen summarises:

“Engagement – how?
Col: “Chickering and Gamson’s (1987) seven principles of good practice in undergraduate education have been referred to as a guiding light for quality undergraduate education and represents a philosophy of student engagement (Puzziferr-Schnitzer, 2005).”

Arthur W. Chickering and Zelda F. Gamson
Good practice in undergraduate education:

  1. encourages contact between students and faculty,
  2. develops reciprocity and cooperation among students,
  3. encourages active learning,
  4. gives prompt feedback,
  5. emphasizes time on task,
  6. communicates high expectations, and
  7. respects diverse talents and ways of learning.

Also TeacherTube – Work on the Work Making Student Engagement Central eg
– student teamwork, discussing the work with them – interaction

Student Engagement in Dawson Creek – video
– project-based learning, real-life learning, eg., CSI project
– all our subjects are incorporated
– if we can teach effort –
But the presumption of a MOOC is that participants have self-selected, that they’re already interested and motivated.”

I have shared some ideas about MOOC here.

This paper on Why Share Knowledge? The Influence of ICT on the Motivation for Knowledge Sharing by Paul Hendricks provides an interesting insight into motivation of people in knowledge sharing.

The simple equation that knowledge sharing is good for organizations cannot be sustained. Knowledge can be augmented if it is shared, knowledge sharing may also prove detrimental to knowledge. The first will occur if people truly learn from each other. The second is to be expected if inadequate representations of knowledge are transferred between people. Both the acts of externalization and internalization (see Figure 2) require that knowing subjects should recognize the value of the knowledge to be shared. Otherwise, there is no knowing how both these processes, that require active intellectual involvement of the knowledge sharers, are best constructed. The key to success in knowledge sharing is that the personal ambition should match the group ambition. Therefore, also the touchstone for successful ICT applications for knowledge sharing is the question how they relate to these ambitions, and to the motivation of knowledge workers to match them.

So, based on such learning, is the sharing in networks also sustainable?  What are the motivations behind such sharing of knowledge amongst participants – i.e. networkers or PLENK participants? Would the touchstone for successful PLE/PLN applications for knowledge sharing be based on the ambitions and motivations of participants of PLENK?

How about the motivation with the super MOOCs or x MOOC?  You will find some student experience listed here.

Student experience in MOOCs

Flosse says:

I have been sceptical about the idea of massive open online course (MOOC). I have a theory: many courses (not only the MOOCs) are not motivating because they do not pay enough attention to the participant’s desires.

In a good course students should have the opportunity to practice leadership, gain knowledge, and be autonomous. Students should be provided ways to get social attention and opportunities to play and compete with each other. But this is not enough. Students should have the opportunity to make connections to deep philosophical issues, too: to obey moral codes, improve society and have connections to past and upcoming generations. Students should feel safe and secure and opportunities to take part in rituals, organize themselves, eat and express themselves as sexual beings.

I would agree on some of the points about what students should have as opportunity to practice like leadership, knowledge gains and autonomy, and to make connections.

I am not that sure if students should necessarily need to take part in rituals in community or social networks, though it would be nice to organize themselves, eat and express themselves in social gatherings.

I think there are assumptions that people would like to be involved in “religious” social gathering, if rituals are used in course, rather than in academic discourse, or social gathering, especially in social networking or communities.

Having motivated learners in a course is a blessing, but I think the group think may develop due to overly zealous and religious groups of learners in the community as I have shared here:

Having rituals and communities of elites also could create barriers to learning, especially in MOOC.  Here Stephen mentions that:

My own experience in life is that the people who become elite do not always become so as a result of their generosity, but rather as a result of their parsimony. They achieve their status as elite not by sharing but rather by hoarding. Such members of the elite carefully cultivate a culture of dependence. By ensuring that their followers depend on them for knowledge, influence and wealth, they augment their own position in society. The parsimonious elite are not interested in the empowerment of their students. They are greedy, selfish and self-interested.

Not all members of the elite are parsimonious, and not all experts are members of this elite. But the membership is sufficiently large that a learner ought not, as a general policy, place oneself in a position of dependence on experts. With every word of advice received, the learner must be in a position to ask whom the advice is intended to benefit. And the learner must be in a position to seek alternative sources of expertise, to weight options, and to decide what to believe for him or her self.

Stephen remarks: “Our MOOCs – including Change, including Connectivism, not to mention the artificial intelligence MOOCs and MITx and the rest of them – are insufficiently connective and they’re tending to slip toward an emphasis on content. And that’s where they stop being effective.”

That’s a critical point in MOOC, on whether one should focus on the content or the process, or the conversation that connects and binds people to share and co-create knowledge, which leads to a sustainable community or network of practice – in education and learning.

I agree with Stephen’s view that “Badges are not sufficient, analytics are not sufficient, it’s the interactivity, it’s the relative position with everybody else in the network, that represents learning in this sort of environment.”  To me, the conversation embedded in the discourse in MOOC is what motivates most participants in a sustainable manner, though badges or certification may serve to recognize some of the literacies, knowledge and skills participants have developed throughout the course.

Postscript: A relevant paper on Motivation


12 thoughts on “Motivation in MOOC

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