Motivation in an Online Learning Environment

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The following were some questions asked of me as I evaluated the TEC-VARIETY Model in the “Instructional Ideas & Tech Tools for Online Success” CourseSites MOOC which I am participating in. I like how this activity enabled me to think deeper about the topic of learner motivation in online environments which is near and dear to my heart. Overall, I find that this is an outstanding model with plenty of supporting empirical research that supports much of it, but it also makes me wonder if it could still be improved upon further. I don’t get the sense that the original developers of this model would want anything but this to happen.

TEC-VARIETY Model

  1. Tone/Climate: Psych Safety, Comfort, Belonging
  2. Encouragement: Feedback, Responsive, Supports
  3. Curiosity: Fun, Fantasy, Control
  4. Variety: Novelty, Intrigue, Unknowns
  5. Autonomy: Choice, Flexibility, Opportunities
  6. Relevance: Meaningful, Authentic, Interesting
  7. Interactive: Collaborative, Team-Based, Community
  8. Engagement: Effort, Involvement, Excitement
  9. Tension: Challenge, Dissonance, Controversy
  10. Yields: Goal Driven, Products, Success, Ownership

What is missing or might be changed in Bonk’s TEC-VARIETY model?

One thing I think might be missing would be a more nuanced explanation of the problem that it is attempting to intervene for. The TEC-Variety model seems to lean heavily on the problem being sensitivity to the tool usage of a given medium, issues regarding training on pedagogical issues and the nature of asynchronous environments. It might be important to stress that there are other systemic problems that are crucial aspects to the problem of learner motivation that some interventions will simply not be able to address.

Another missing link are ones that were self-identified to be incomplete which were the actual solutions. Some solutions were specific examples of interventions to use, but there was little support for the effects these particular suggestions have had on past usages.

Other suggestions were vague and general in nature which could take one down multiple other specific solution options raising other questions as they went. Some general words in the model that could be considered for inclusion would be belongingness, peer-assessment, exploration, inquiry, reflection, experience, simulation, time-on-task, and the creation of one’s own meaningful learning models.

At the same time, many of these generalities could be connected and possibly consolidated into a more simple and general model in order to be a more solid framework upon to build from.

What do you like best about Bonk’s TEC-VARIETY model for motivation and retention online?

I like the emphasis on learner engagement because this is an affective domain that can be measured and will yield learning results.

Do you have any online motivational success story examples or cases that you wish to share?

Generally, courses that helped me navigate my own goal trajectories and involved meaningful levels of engagement toward the refinement and actualization of these goals with creative achievement modeling have been the most meaningful to me. I had one online course that built these models of my demonstrations into an end of the course project that brought things all together regarding what I had done each week to demonstrate my creative competency of the intended learning outcomes while being able to reflect on how these related to my context and career goals.

How do you deal with motivation and retention issues online?

The best way to deal with motivation and retention is to have a deep understanding of people in general, the diversity of what makes them tick, the uniqueness of their contexts, characteristics, their challenges, fears, hopes, stories and inspirational narratives that guide them.

What motivational problems have you experienced with online learners in fully online or blended environments?

Well, some could be motivational problems I have experienced elsewhere and others might actually be perpetuated by the medium itself. For instance, on one hand you have the ever-existing business of people’s lives, laziness, lack of resources and energy, distractions, obligations and all other influential contextualizations (aka excuses). On the other hand, the online environment itself can lend toward even less accountability if the learner and instructor are technologically fearful, incompetent, poorly-resourced, inadequately oriented and in need of a less isolating measures.

Have you experienced any motivational problems personally?

Oh no, never.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rBNe8CUePTQ]

Author: Dave

LX Designer, entrepreneur & change agent. Immersed in collaborations that improve learning & working environments. Sometimes, I go fishing.

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