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Student motivation in distance learning environments – what can we do as teachers to support it?
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Computer and Systems Sciences.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Computer and Systems Sciences.
2013 (English)In: 25th ICDE World Conference (16-18 September 2013, Tianjin, China): [Proceedings], 2013Conference paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Much has been said and written about learner satisfaction and how to motivate students in distance learning environments. Sun et al., (2008) proposes the instructor attitude toward e-learning as one significant factor for driving successful e-learning. Gilly Salmon (2003)states that it is of most importance to build communities in the educational platform and to design courses for interaction, participation and feedback. The need for Teacher–student interaction from a pedagogical point of view is undisputed, however focus in this discussion has often been on courses in a context where the three freedoms of distance learning (Freedom of time, place and pace) is some what limited to only include freedom of time and place. Free pace is often limited to fit the teachers and the administration of the course. This paper discusses the consequences of adding the third factor, freedom of pace for the student into the equation and applying it on a large course with 1000+ students. How do we treat the need of teacher – student interaction and the ability to build a community in a course of that size with limited resources available? The conclusions drawn in this paper come from teaching courses in project management both on an undergraduate and graduate level. The courses are given at the Department of Computer and Systems Sciences (DSV), Stockholm University and they are reached through the use of teacher discussions, self-introspective and practical experiences working as a teacher. In a course where students are allowed to study at their own pace (the third variable in the equation) it is almost impossible to create a personal relationship with individual students in the course. This in essence means that we as teachers and course creators must focus our attention on other task such as creating structure for students, making the course clear and easy to use, which is one of the biggest influences on motivation (Wettergren, 2011). The importance of quickness in reacting to student needs and questions is of utmost importance and enough resources should be devoted to this. In giving the courses at DSV we noticed a significant increase in student performance when imposing an 8-hour maximum response time from teachers. Students are studying when it fits their schedules making the timing of help and support when they are stuck even more important. The possibility to ask questions in public forums with quick responses from skilled tutors who facilitate the students to advance in the course created a sense of community. The presence of the teachers affects not only the students who asks the questions, but also the “lurkers” who get the information they need from reading other students questions. The implementation of scaffolding or “fictive” goals is an effective way of improving student motivation, giving them something to strive for (Wettergren, 2011). After implementing grading windows once a month, meaning that teachers only graded assignments and examination once a month we saw an increase in course throughput and student motivation. An added bonus of this implementation was that in doing so we created a more motivating and interesting teacher situation since we could focus on teaching and helping the students more since grading was concentrated to certain parts of the month.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Keyword [en]
Teacher experiences, motivation, large scale courses, flexible learning
National Category
Information Systems
Research subject
Computer and Systems Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-97752OAI: diva2:679982
25th ICDE World Conference 2013, on Open and Distance Learning, Beijing, China, 16-18 October 2013

Författarnas två bidrag till konferensen finns tillgängliga som nummer 369 och 377 i en nedladdningsbar  .zip-fil med samtliga accepterade bidrag.

Konferensens hemsida: 

Available from: 2013-12-17 Created: 2013-12-17 Last updated: 2016-02-11Bibliographically approved

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Åkerlund, KentWettergren, Gunnar
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