The demand and appreciation for online learning have recently been on the rise . However, maximization of the opportunity presented by this approach to learning is marred by myriad challenges. One such setback is the rising dropout rates (Marshall & Wilson, 2011). For instance, the dropout rate for online learning, which is also popularly referred to as e-learning is more than double that of classroom-based learning (Marshall & Wilson, 2011). To reverse this trend, the deliberate and careful instructional design of online courses to improve their effectiveness is crucial. An important component of this process is the motivation of e-learners so that they effectively engage with the material and complete their respective online courses (Marshall & Wilson, 2011). This essay, therefore, is aimed at highlighting the application of the Attention, Relevance, Confidence and Satisfaction (ARCS) model to motivate e-learners.
Budgetary and resource-related challenges are amongst the most common problems affecting organizations. Marshall & Wilson (2011) cite that this is particularly the case with regard to the provision of consistent training of employees and volunteers, as well as the continuous development of the two vital human resources. E-learning can be used to address the noted challenges. This is because online learning programs can be standardized, replicated, and their delivery is cost-effective. For instance, owing to this , e-learning was used by San Diego Zoo Global (SDZG) to train its workforce on animal care (Marshall & Wilson, 2011). In this pursuit, the design team emphasized on the application of various motivation strategies. These were focussed on the audience, and their acquisition of the intended content. The ARCS Model of Motivation was embraced in the process.
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Instructional design within organizations should put emphasis on the learner (Marshall & Wilson, 2011). This is in a bid to optimize investments in e-learning. In this case, the learners ’ knowledge, experiences, and interests have to be considered in the design of motivating instruction. In the context of learning, the design of learner motivation refers to the “ strategies, principles, processes, and tactics for stimulating and sustaining the goal-oriented behavior of learners ” (Marshall & Wilson, 2011). Further, it is a subset of both learning environment design and instructional design.
The first strategy of motivating e-learners is to ensure that the learners’ attention is attained and maintained (Marshall & Wilson, 2011). For a learner to remain attentive, the instructor needs to impart a guiding curiosity in his or her mind. This curiosity drives the learner throughout the learning process and can be achieved by raising a thought-provoking question. The question should feed into the narrative of the situation that the student is studying . Thus it creates a need for the student to solve it. Eventually, the pursuit of the answer instills a problem-solving desire in the learner. Attainment of the answer should thus be driven by the case study being analyzed coupled with the problem being solved . For the student interests to be maintained , the case study facts also have to be concrete rather than abstract. For instance, SDZG explored such case studies as how their staff dealt with Newcastle’s Disease. This was done having in mind that the disease had the potential of affecting the organization’s avian population (Marshall & Wilson, 2011).
Another important strategy of motivating e-learners is the use of vibrant visuals to convey the content (Marshall & Wilson, 2011). This is especially the case for visually-intensive disciplines. Taking cognizant of the role played by the visual component in such disciplines, an entirely text-based e-learning environment would demotivate the learners. Visual aids call to attention important aspects of the lessons being taught and keep the students focused. They also give individuals confidence in the content matter being discussed . They also serve the purpose of expounding on concepts that are difficult to pass to the students verbally (Marshall & Wilson, 2011). Making module organization and flow standardized is yet another approach for motivating e-learners. This is because it aids in managing a learner's cognitive load. It is also ideal for e-learning components that ought to facilitate the student in focussing on content while minimizing the inessential cognitive load. Managing the cognitive load promotes learning. It also positively affects the learner persistence (Marshall & Wilson, 2011). To achieve this goal, the design of e-learning modules should emphasize the flow of information and the user interface (UI). By standardizing the module organization and flow learners can familiarize themselves with the structure. Also, they end up spending less time to process and interpret the operation and organization of the module.
Feedback and interactive practice is yet another strategy for motivating e-learners. This allows the learners to interact with the content and is vital in maintaining attention while embracing variability. Variability ensures that attention is sustained . Likewise, new content can be followed with informal , interactive checks for knowledge. Incorporation of segments that require the learners to take action and control delivery and progression of the content is also important . This is because it helps in the achievement of variability. Also, for instruction to be motivational, it has to help the e-learners build their confidence with the content. This can be done by allowing the learners to challenge themselves and prove that they have acquired new knowledge. In the process, the students build their confidence. Moreover, feedback can be used to enhance a student ’s satisfaction. It is suggested that course designers should “provide feedback and other information that reinforces positive feelings for personal effort and accomplishment” (Marshall & Wilson, 2011).
Marshall & Wilson (2011) also cite the importance of guiding the learning process in a bid to motivate e-learners. Non-examples and examples, mnemonics and advanced organizers can be used to achieve this. The guidance provides both instructions and support to aid in content internalization and knowledge acquisition. In conclusion, learning motivation, especially of e-learners cannot be overstated . However, emphasis should be placed on the individual learners, with the aim of enhancing their persistence and mastery of content.
Marshall, J., & Wilson, M. (2011). Motivating e-Learners: Application of the ARCS Model to e-Learning for San Diego Zoo Global’s Animal Care Professionals. Journal of Applied Instructional Design, 3(2), 21-30.