While significant research surrounds adding gamification elements to eLearning courses, implementing it means devoting a large amount of resources. What then, can we learn if we look at it from the flip side? What fundamental game design principles translate to Instructional Design? Continue reading “Apply Game Design Principles to Your Courses”
Throughout this series, we’ve explored the four components of Keller’s ARCS Model for Motivation: attention, relevance, confidence, and satisfaction.
In my last post, I discussed practical ways to motivate your students by making your course content relevant to them in and outside of the classroom.
Today we will look at ways you can motivate your students by boosting their confidence.
In her article, Miller (2015) asserts that “students with self-confidence pay more attention in class, get along better with their peers and generally have a more focused and inquisitive attitude.” She offers creative strategies to improve students’ confidence in face-to-face, online, and blended learning environments:
Provide positive feedback when appropriate.
Give only genuine praise.
Set realistic goals.
Provide opportunities for equal participation.
Create an open, positive environment for learning.
Show enthusiasm for the subject you’re teaching and for your students’ success.
Some other strategies to increase and maintain students’ motivation in the area of confidence include: “making expectations and assignments clear, and making sure students know they can ask questions” (Chesebro & McCroskey, 2002, p. 90).
In both undergrad and graduate school, the enthusiasm and passion of my two favorite communication professors sparked the same enthusiasm and passion in me—not only for the subjects they taught but also to learn and do well in their classes.
My undergraduate professor’s enthusiasm and passion for the fight against human trafficking opened my eyes to this horrible injustice. Our class discussions challenged and inspired me to do all I can to spread awareness and join the fight myself.
My graduate professor’s enthusiasm for the infamous film, The Sound of Music (1965) allowed me to see and appreciate the film and story in a whole new way. Now, I catch myself using the same methods he taught us to notice the cinematic detail in other films, allowing me to appreciate the power of this form of storytelling even more.
In both cases, my new-found passion and enthusiasm increased my confidence in what I learned—directly increasing and maintaining my motivation to learn
In the final post in this series, we will discover the final component in Keller’s ARCS Model for Motivation: Satisfaction.
Chesebro, J. L., & McCroskey, J. C. (Eds.). (2002). Communication for teachers. Pearson.
When you were a kid, what were some of your favorite games and activities? Oftentimes, insight into a child’s future career can be gained by watching how they play.
One of my favorite “toys” as a kid was my family’s handy-dandy cassette recorder. Although now archaic, it was cutting edge in the 70s. My love for recording began at age three, as I unashamedly performed such songs as “Happy Birthday” and “Old Susanna.” As I got older, I started putting together my own radio shows, which I thought were genius works of comedy.
So, how did this childhood interest translate into a career? I became a professional broadcaster.
Yes, it’s true. For the first twenty-plus years of my adult life, I worked in radio. I’ve hosted music shows, served as a reporter and news anchor, conducted interviews, and scripted more commercials than I can count. I have even taught audio production and broadcasting courses at the college level. Those childhood interests really were a forecasting of my future.
Fast forward to my current career as an instructional designer. How does my broadcasting background mesh with eLearning? Surprisingly, in many ways. Here’s what instructional design can learn from the world of broadcasting:
Rule of Radio: Take the First Exit
I was mentored by a talent coach who encouraged me to “Take the First Exit” when communicating an idea on the air. Put simply, don’t overwhelm your audience with verbosity. Take the shortest route to the destination by stating information concisely.
Cognitive load theory contends that extraneous material can inhibit learning. After all, the human mind can only handle a limited amount of information at once. Clark, Nguyen, and Sweller (2011) argue that eliminating non-essential content from the learning environment will result in faster and better learning.
Rule of Radio: Prepare Your Audience for What’s Coming Up
Good radio hosts tease what lies ahead. For example, “Stay tuned for your opportunity to win concert tickets right after this song.” This builds anticipation and keeps listeners engaged.
Instructional Design Lesson: Prepare Your Students for Learning
Have a new concept to introduce to the class? Use scaffolding to sufficiently support the learner. According to Chen (2014), this will promote engagement in the task as well as achievement of the learning outcome.
Rule of Radio: One Thought Per Break
On-air personalities report the news, share humorous anecdotes, give prizes away, and more. However, they don’t do it all in one announce break. Rambling on and on will cause the listener to tune out.
Instructional Design Lesson: “Chunk” Your Material
Chunking refers to breaking down large amounts of content into smaller “bite-sized” pieces. As you do so, be sure to cut out extraneous information. According to Pappas (2013), staying on topic is one of the most challenging aspects of content chunking.
Looking at the elements above, we see a common thread: avoid information overload. Whether it’s a radio listener or an online learner, simplicity is the key to engaging your audience. Have any of your former jobs prepared you for the world of online learning? Have any of your childhood dreams become reality through instructional design? If so, I’d love to hear about it.
Chen, S. (2007). Instructional Design Strategies for Intensive Online Courses: An Objectivist – Constructivist Blended Approach. Journal of Interactive Online Learning, 6(1), 72-86.
Clark, R. C., Nguyen, F., & Sweller, J. (2011). Efficiency in Learning: Evidence-Based Guidelines to Manage Cognitive Load. Somerset: Wiley.
Instructional designers agree on one fundamental concept of course design: you must know your audience. This article focuses on an emerging audience and proposes a not-so-new strategy for designing eLearning that works for it.
WHAT WE KNOW
Today, we consult a large body of research dedicated to the design of online learning. We have come to know this audience of learners fairly well—including three distinct subgroups: K-12, adults working full-time, and post bachelor students. Research consistently points to interactivity and student engagement as key components for successful online learning—and instructional designers get that. A 2007 article states:
The success of an online course depends greatly on how actively engaged students are with the instructor, with their classmates, with the content, with technology, and with course management tools. (Mingsheng Dai, Online Cl@ssroom).
Businesses hire instructional designers to develop onboard training and incremental training that features libraries of topics designed to help employees do their jobs well. According to one eLearning blogger, for eLearning to be effective with an audience of employees, it has to “look and sound great,” “be real,” and “flexible.” (Young, Meghan, July 29, 2013, eLearning Industry).
Leaders recognize that eLearning has found momentum and led to an increase in material learned, retention rates, revenue, and savings. (Karla Gutierrez, 2016, April 7, SH!FT). Course designers have tailored eLearning to the student and employee audiences at a 900% growth rate since 2000. Are you ready to meet the needs of an even newer audience?
Early in 2017, Julie and Kenneth Kendall, Rutgers University, published an article stating that more and more executives are “being groomed to serve as organizational leaders.” Their study shows that executives make up a slightly different audience from the learner/employee audience that we see featured in most eLearning research. (p. 62). Now, the Kendalls are calling for a new kind of online learning, one that reaches an “executive” audience. These folks are seasoned professionals, rising to leadership roles in corporations, and have had success in their companies, with loads of real-life experience. Sounds like a new twist on what we understand the “learner” to be.
THEY HAVE STORIES TO TELL Taking what we already know about eLearning design and tailoring it to an executive audience, the Kendalls discover from their research that executives engage well with story. They have stories to tell. They know the ins and outs of how the business runs. They know how to set company standards, and can give you a list of best practices from memory (and experience).
The Kendalls propose incorporating storytelling to innovatively enhance executive education. By addressing the following elements in every great story, learners can engage by telling their own stories, while others discover new learning or validate their own experiences.
The call to adventure
By now you’re thinking: storytelling is nothing new! But incorporating story as a method/strategy for course design to reach professionals who have valuable experience strikes me as innovative and fresh. Kudos to the Kendalls for featuring this emerging audience and finding a strategy that works!
Can you even imagine what could be accomplished with story? I’m going to spend some time figuring that out. Be sure to come back here for more!
Have you been looking for a way to make executive education work for your client? Have you discovered strategies that work well? Do you expect to be designing executive education in the future? I’d love some feedback.
Kendall, J. E. & Kendall, K. E. (2017). Enhancing online executive education using storytelling: An approach to strengthening online social presence. Decision Sciences Journal of Innovative Education, 15, 62-81.
Remember the “Year of the MOOC” of 2012? What would possess us to even consider such a thing as a Massive Open Online Course? Maybe the MOOC captured our life-long-learner imaginations with the potential to enable free university-level education on an enormous scale.
Even the least of us could take a MIT or Stanford course from the leading expert of the world. Or, maybe the MOOC captured our mind’s eye because at our core we are teachers with an absorbing yearning to share our insightful understandings with as many as possible. But alas, the MOOC luster faded quickly.
There were irreconcilable differences; a feeling of betrayal of our basic values coming from staggering low completion rates. We left “divorce court” feeling the MOOC was nothing more than “mere marketing” hype or, at its worst as abject failures.
There were many explanations for the low completion rates but the principal cause centered on a basic pedagogical necessity for learners to be active and receive personal attention and interactions from their teacher. Being a student in a MOOC was much like being a dazed-video–watching-couch-potato in an infinite virtual lecture hall. It didn’t take long for our eyes to glaze over as we faded into the sunset.
But wait – maybe it’s premature to shut the MOOC door and send it to the “it was a nice idea … but” file. Coursera, the biggest MOOC provider, is investing in R&D, trying to find solutions. Their research led them to embrace an innovative active learning style trying to lift students off those binge-watching couches and have them face their screens and interact.
An experimental section of a Coursera coding skill MOOC requires students viewing a video and immediately demonstrate mastery by building a piece of software. The R&D Team teased out some 20 to 40 coding errors learners commonly make. If the student’s submission reveals common conceptual coding mistakes, a pop-up window appears with a clue, suggesting why they may have made the error.
“(Its) like a … (teacher) looking over your shoulder, giving immediate feedback associated with your mistake,” said Coursera R&D scientist Zhenghao Chen. “Students should have a clear idea why they failed,” Chen said. “Feedback prompts them to correct their misconceptions, to think along different paths.” (Ubel, 2017).
Coursera is not alone. Sense, a New York-based tech start-up with R&D labs in Tel Aviv is testing pattern recognition and semantic analysis methods that automatically bundle student answers to gather common results. The instructor might feed in 50 or more quiz solutions at any time.
The system analyzes student responses and reveals common patterns – successful responses, common mistakes, and even novel solutions – shared among submissions. With the Sense automatic batching in a MOOC, with even thousands of students, faculty can quickly pinpoint useful responses to learners who give similar answers – personalizing faculty-student interaction at scale.
What is the MOOC take away? The MOOC is a recent phenomenon but it is confirming the foundations of our understandings of learning we have understood for decades – authentic learning is active. Think: John Dewey and Jean Piaget.
It is easy to point our self-righteous finger at the MOOC– the truth is we are all sinners. We know the power of active learning but get caught up in our own MOOC (Massive Onslaught Of Content). We resort to lectures and multiple choice assessments rather than encouraging active learning.
Maybe the research coming from MOOCs will cause us to stop, reflect, and discover new tools helping us reconnect to our pedagogical souls.
Throughout this series, we’ve explored Keller’s ARCS Model for Motivation, which includes attention, relevance, confidence, and satisfaction—four components used in successful face-to-face, online, and blended learning environments.
In my last post, I shared different strategies to motivate students through gaining and maintaining their attention.
Today we’ll look at practical ways you can motivate your students through course content that’s relevant to them in and outside of the classroom.
How is this Relevant?
Keller (1987) believed that “relevance can come from the way something is taught; it does not have to come from the content itself” (1987, p. 7, author emphasis). He defines relevance as “a perception of personal needs being met by instructional activities or as a highly desired goal being perceived as related to instructional activities” (as cited in Chesebro & McCroskey, 2002, p. 83).
Chesebro and McCroskey expressed Keller’s definition in simpler terms: “we perceive something as being relevant if we perceive it is related to our personal needs (e.g., needs for affiliation, control, achievement) or our personal goals (e.g., career goals)” (2002, p. 83).
If students perceive your course content and activities as relevant to their personal needs, personal goals, or both, they will become motivated to learn and remember the course content long after your class ends.
Strategies to enhance content relevance include:
Value: Help students value course activities and make sure that they expect to succeed at the task.
Experience: Explain how the course content builds on students’ existing skills and knowledge; discover students’ interests and relate their interests to the course content.
Present worth: Explain why the course content is relevant and important.
Future usefulness: Explain how the course content relates to future activities and experiences that students will encounter, in and outside of class.
Need matching: Link the course content to students’ needs for affiliation, power, and achievement.
Modeling: Refer to alumni or professionals who demonstrate or model the value and relevance of the course content.
Choice: Provide meaningful alternative methods for accomplishing a learning outcome.
Engage: Ask students to determine why and how the content is relevant to them.
All of these strategies require “teachers to have some knowledge and understanding of their students” (Chesebro & McCroskey, 2002, pp. 88, 90).
One of my favorite Communication professors at Spring Arbor University helped her students recognize the value in class assignments. She showed us the future usefulness of the content we were learning, in and outside of class. In COM100: Introduction to Communication, our Relational Transformation assignments throughout the semester challenged us to improve our communication with others by intentionally communicating with people in new ways, or in ways that would challenge us to be better and more effective Christ-like communicators.
Once I saw how the course content was relevant to my personal needs and goals, I became more motivated to learn and remember the course content and as a result, excelled in my classes. I still apply the lessons I learned from those assignments in my communication with others to this day.
In my next post, I will discuss how to gain and maintain students’ motivation by improving their confidence.
Chesebro, J. L., & McCroskey, J. C. (Eds.). (2002). Communication for teachers. Pearson.
Keller, J. M. (1987). Development and Use of the ARCS Model of Instructional Design. Journal of Instructional Development, 10(3), 2–10. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/30221294
Have you noticed the dark cloud in the corner of your office? That agent of doom that keeps saying: “blended instruction is just a phase,” “you don’t have time and resources to get started with blended,” or “what’s the big deal about blended anyway?”
You are a professor—not an agent of doom.
You care about your students and want the very best learning experiences for them. Why then do you listen to that dark cloud’s pessimism and remain immovable?
Shannon Tipton, in her article, “Go Make Something Happen,” explains that we don’t get started on something new (like blended instruction) because “…we are scaredy cats.” She insists we hold back for these reasons:
We are scared of failure. Scared of looking bad. Scared of losing credibility.
We don’t know where to start.
We are overwhelmed.
We don’t like the topic.
Do you see yourself in that picture? If so, you can move out of the dark cloud and get started with an instructional design team—a rescue squad equipped to take the scary out of the project.
Reach out to your instructional design team.
Join with other minds to brainstorm, identify problems that need solutions, and share perspectives from a variety of angles. Working with a team does not mean that you are placing the learning of your students into someone else’s hands. It truly takes a team to create a successful blended course.
Say goodbye to the dark cloud in the corner and start increasing learning value for your students. Stop letting fear keep you back from providing blended instruction, and start a conversation with us!
Don’t be scared. We will help you look good.
Together, we’ll determine the best place to start.
Let us do some of the heavy lifting.
We focus on learning. We don’t want you to lose those game-winning home runs.
Together, we will find a way through the blended maze.