In Designing e-Learning Motivation Makes all the Difference — from Allen Interactions

What was deeply personal to one group was irrelevant and pointless to another.

This is exactly the problem we face so often as designers of e-learning.  Our subject matter experts or project owners live and breathe the content we are to teach. And they expect that the same values that have given significance to the content for them over many years can be directly transferred to the learners.  Unfortunately, that’s impossible.  To get learners engaged in understanding new content and performing new skills, we as designers need to tie the content to some motivation existing in the learner, or to manufacture an urgency (using game design, networking, or simulation aspects) that the learners buy into.  This is important in all learning, but particularly so in e-learning where learners are, for the most part, working entirely on their own.

So equal to the task of analyzing content and designing instruction is the challenge of understanding our learners and designing interactivity that will provide personal motivation.

Here are some ideas for designing for motivation:

  • Ensure learners are aware of meaningful consequences
  • Develop a sense of risk
  • Ensure the learner benefits from adaptive content and branching
  • Draw the learner in by expert storytelling and creation of suspense
  • Appreciate the aesthetic appeal of graphics and media
  • Engage in meta-thinking with questions whose importance is elevated through multiple-step tasks and delayed judgment