E-learning environments and e-motivation of learners… same same but different

After been engaged in discussing online education elements during the last couple of weeks, the idea of designing a new online open educational module started to grow in my mind. Why not? It would be an incredible possibility for reaching learners that are not currently involved in my traditional face-to-face courses at the university, where I teach – among other subjects – human rights. For example, it would be fantastic to launch a pilot MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) on Introduction to Human Rights.

 Although MOOCs could ‘expand the audience for education from current campus students to people ill-served or completely shut out from the current system’ (Weller & Anderson, 2013), they nevertheless requires certain specific skills, as any other Open Educational Resources (OERs). In fact, MOOCs not only demand the existence of specific technological (digital) platforms, such as the ones developed by Harvard and MIT (EdX), Stanford (Coursera) or the UK Open University (FutureLearn), but also minimum levels of digital literacy by educators and targeted learners.

 Developing a model of distance learning, that will apply successful pedagogical techniques in order to engage learning in active, critical and reflective learning is indeed a challenge. Similar interactive dynamics that take place in the face-to-face classrooms need to be recreated (or motivated) within e-learning practises. Within open online environments, teachers need to ‘shift from being providers of knowledge and resources, to acting as directors of technology-enabled networked learners’ (Open University Innovation Report 3, 2014).

 Within e-learning environments, ‘classrooms becomes a space for dynamic, interactive learning where the teacher guides students to apply concepts they have learned online’ (Open University Innovation Report 3, 2014). Therefore, guidance, constant support and motivational mentoring are essentials in order to build an adequate and effective online learning environment where learners are motivated enough during their educational journey. As it has been argued (not without reasons), a learner ‘who is fully motivated will overcome barriers of situation and time, find ways of developing appropriate skills and be able to deal with the stress of study with very little extra external support’ (Simpson, 2008).

 In this sense, e-learning or online educational programmes in higher education do not differ from traditional face-to-face teaching and learning activities. Teachers need to design their curricula in a manner that learners with engage with and facilitate their own creative involvement, that is, enabling them to participatory create their own activities and content, in collaboration and communication with their peers.

 According to Conole (2015) Open Learning Practices (OLPs) need to enable a dialogical exchange by means of a mechanism or practices that will foster ‘communication between learners and the tutors, learners and their peers, and learners and the wider community’. Thus, in order to maintain sustainable levels of motivation, learners – in digital or traditional classrooms – need to be able to see the practical implications (or implementation) of the theoretical concepts that they critically approach and analyse.

 Education is about discovery or creation of knowledge, integration or interpretation of findings, application or practical implementation of their results, and their teaching or dissemination (Weller & Anderson, 2013). And OEPs should not be an exception. They serve the same scaffolding purpose than traditional face-to-face educational practices; they should take learners to the same fascinating path of critical transformative spiritual illumination.

References:

Conole, G. (2015). The 7Cs of Learning Design. Download as PDF (In press)

Innovating Pedagogy 2014 – Open University Innovation report 3 . Available here.

Simpson, O. (2008). Motivating learners in open and distance learning: do we need a new theory of learner support?. Open Learning, 23(3), 159-170. Available here

Weller, M., & Anderson, T. (2013). Digital resilience in higher education.European Journal of Open, Distance and E-Learning, 16(1), 53.Available here.

Picture:

tuper16, #education #justicehttps://instagram.com/p/3tTXBjNI-p/, permission kindly granted by the author.

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E-learning environments and e-motivation of learners… same same but different by Alejandro Fuentes is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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