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Encouraging Learner Participation in an Online Environment 1

Encouraging Learner Participation in an Online Environment Bonnie Sibley EDDL 5111 Assignment 2B October 7, 2012

Encouraging Learner Participation in an Online Environment 2 Motivation and participation can move a students online experience from isolation to a sense of community. Motivation refers to the incentive or energy that drives an individual to take an action (Reeve, 2005) Research on motivation suggests that students motivation for any given task can range from intrinsic or extrinsic (Deci & Ryan, 1985). Intrinsic motivation involves doing a task for the joy of it rather than the reward of a mark, prize or payment. Intrinsic motivation can be a powerful motivator of learning. If we want to enhance online learning, we need to enhance online learner participation (Hrastinski, 2009). In a face-to-face classroom situation the teacher can watch for an eyebrow raise, a slower response, or a shifting body as a signal of decreased motivation or interest. The online teacher needs to look at different indicators. Online courses create unique environments that require thoughtful care for instructors to help students become engaged in their learning and to design virtual classrooms that enhance a sense of community (Meyers, 2008) I have taken several online courses with varying degrees of success. One such course was an upper-level course where the instructor made very little effort to comment on my work or even say goodbye at the end of the course. I left this course with a passing grade and a feeling that something was missing. My experience with Thompson Rivers University (TRU) Graduate Certificate in Online Teaching and Learning (EDDL) has given me a positive experience as a contrast to the undergrad course taken earlier. Another online course I took was an HTML course through the Abbotsford Virtual School, which advertises themselves as inclusive and supportive. My experience was otherwise. I did not find the teacher

Encouraging Learner Participation in an Online Environment 3 supportive and became very frustrated. This course was the only course I have ever left without finishing. I interviewed another student who took the course the same time I did. She also didnt complete the course and I asked her why? I asked her to comment on what were the difficulties and what she thought would have helped to make her experience successful. She told me the teacher was not available when I needed help and when I received an answer, it did not help so I gave up and dropped the course. I think YouTube video tutorials would have helped me because I dont learn well by just reading. (Jen, S, personal communication, October 8, 2012) The experience of my fellow learner and myself are examples of why this particular program did not work as set up and possibly an insight into the decision The B.C. Education Ministry made in May 2012 to revisit the online courses they offer. The Vancouver Sun reported the B.C. Education Ministry is reducing the number of courses eligible for per-pupil grants, citing high dropout rates and wasted dollars. Based on my experiences with online courses, it is my opinion that learners have a better rate of success with encouragement and attention. I would like to explore possible methods that may enhance the learners experience and encourage greater learner participation in the online environment. To build intrinsic motivation and encourage learner participation the teacher must not only teach the content, but also instill the love of learning. According to Bain (2004), excellent teachers produce important educational results, such as high achievement on standardized and professional tests and satisfied, inspired students. But, most literature on online pedagogy focuses on best practices (Keengwe & Kidd, 2010). Although best practices are an excellent guide for teachers,

Encouraging Learner Participation in an Online Environment 4 I believe learners need a deep connection to learning, which can be achieved through: Creating a community of learners Quality and quantity of interactions with other learners and instructor Relevant and authentic content to create a personal and emotional connection to the subject Creative use of videos, wikis, blogs, and conferencing Use of varied methods of teaching to cover all learning styles Fostering engagement through discussion forums, blogs Team projects and collaborative lessons offered as opportunities to learn instead of a requirement Allowing the students to get to know the teacher and each other possibly through video introductions Building a rapport with the students and creating a presence Flexibility of deadlines Individualized feedback on assignments and activities Allowing students the opportunity to ask questions through surveys or discussion forums Formative and summative assessment

Encouraging Learner Participation in an Online Environment 5 Teachers must close the distance gap while teaching online and go beyond the technology (Brinthaupt, et al 2011) and must not be seduced by the technology or the delivery mode and give in to the temptation to use instructional technology for its own sake. Online learning must be learnercentered, not teacher-centered. The teacher must not think of the course as running itself but must be hands on and ever vigilant to maintain and grow the learners enthusiasm. To help build a learner friendly, supportive environment I propose that the teacher should be as available as possible, within the limits outlined to the students, and may provide: Online office hours Online tutorials such as You Tube or teacher created instruction A list of useful links such as organizational strategies Contact information for the teacher Timely feedback Supportive help

Within the learner community opportunities for collaborative projects should be offered. Working together builds a stronger community but only when group or pair work goes along smoothly. I have worked well within a group and also found group work to be terribly frustrating. The teacher should be available to act as a mediator if the group dynamic runs into difficulty and all avenues of resolution have failed.

Encouraging Learner Participation in an Online Environment 6 To keep the learners interested, lessons must be varied, relevant, and interesting. This is a list of possible Internet tools and ideas to work toward this: Blogs Wikis for interaction Quizzes, surveys such as quibblo.com polldaddy.com Games Videos such as YouTube, National Film Board Brainstorm platforms such as bubbl.us, wallwisher.com Flashcards such as quizlet.com

In the process of building student intrinsic motivation to further participation in the online community I believe the teacher will also feel an increased level of satisfaction along with the students. What better feeling can the teacher and student have than the satisfaction of participating in a successful learning experience?

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References: Abbotsford Virtual School http://www.avs34.com/portal/ Bain, K (2004). What the best college teachers do. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Brinthaupt, T, Fisher, L, Garner, J, Raffo, D & Woodward, J (2011). What the Best Online Teachers Should Do. Journal of Online Learning and Teaching Vol 7, No. 4 Deci, E.L., & Ryan, R. M. (1985(. Intrinsic motivation and self-determination in human behaviors. New York: Plenum. http://books.google.ca/books?hl=en&lr=&id=p96WmnER4QC&oi=fnd&pg=PA1&dq=intrinsic+motivation+definition&ots=3cIVw2u6b9&si g=JJu4SxR8rBGpKnlPdaWohEa42w#v=onepage&q=intrinsic%20motivation%20definition&f=false Retrieved October 8, 2012 Hranstinski, S (2009). Theory of online learning as online participation. Computers and Educations Vol 52, Issue 1, January 2009 abstract Keengwe, J., & Kidd, T.T. (2010). Towards best practices in online learning and teaching in higher education. Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 6, 533-541 Meyers, S. (2008). Using transformative pedagogy when teaching online. College Teaching, 56(4), 219-224. http://sites.roosevelt.edu/smeyers/files/2011/04/transformative.pdf retrieved October 8, 2012 Reeve, J. (2005). Understanding Motivation and Emotion (2nd ed.) Orlando: Harcourt College Publishers. Vancouver Sun Community Blog (2012). Adult education in BC hit by funding cuts http://blogs.vancouversun.com/2012/05/13/adult-education-in-b-c-hit-byfunding-cuts/ Retrieved October 8, 2012