“It doesn’t matter how slowly you go as long as you don’t stop.” – Confucius
Every human being is different and has a unique talent. They only need to discover it. During our lives we are always forced to make choices: which kindergarten, which school, which university, which profession, which path should I take? And usually we strive for the best: a prestigious profession, the perfect family, happy friendships, etc. In order to make the right choices, we need time and enough information. As we are so busy, our spare time is extremely precious. Therefore, it is very important to choose wisely. Often we don’t have the time to deepen our knowledge in subjects in which we are really interested, to take additional courses to become better professionals, or just to be better in a field in which we want to develop further.
That is why it is important to be acquainted with what motivates your virtual learners and with their learning styles.
Motivation is an internal process resulting from internal and external factors that stimulate desire and energy in people to be continuously interested and committed to a job, role or subject, or to exert an effort to attain a goal. Psychologists have proposed some different ways of thinking about motivation. One of the methods looks at whether motivation arises from the outside (extrinsic motivation) or the inside (intrinsic motivation) of an individual.
Intrinsic motivation refers to an inherent interest in pursuing a topic (“learning for learning’s sake”). These individuals find a subject interesting and they naturally desire to master it.
Extrinsic motivation, on the other hand, refers to a desire to pursue a subject for reasons outside of the individual, such as rewards, grades, parental or instructor approval, etc.
The role of the online teacher is to foster the intrinsic motivation of their students.
Now let’s discuss why online students have actually chosen your course. What are some of the reasons why they subscribe to a virtual course?
Get a certificate and improve their resume – Online courses are a great opportunity to increase knowledge and improve skills in a certain field. Employers are impressed when they see different certificates. Many companies also invest in virtual courses to improve the qualifications of their teams.
Taking a course in a subject in which they have never had any experience but would like to become knowledgeable.
In search of a new career – Virtual platforms can give new perspectives to professional development. A new course can help online students discover their talents and interests.
Self-paced learning – Students are free to choose their own rhythm according to their availability, organization, and prioritization of effort. They are motivated by the opportunity to develop their presentation skills, their writing skills, and abilities to discuss and exchange ideas.
Save money – Instead of paying high fees for a special course at a famous university, they can take it online at home at a lower price.
Keep the course materials – The big advantage of online courses is that almost all of the materials are available, and virtual students can download and save them instead of paying for expensive textbooks.
Online courses are results-oriented – Online teachers are able to motivate their students to not give up and to achieve their goals. As they are in constant communication with their students and not just teaching boring theory, the teachers make it easier for students to overcome challenges during the learning process.
What about the learning styles of online students?
According to Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligence, there are 8 types of learning styles:
Kinaesthetic learners – Students learn through their senses and by doing physical activities. It is recommended for them to practice or make something while watching an online video (for example, to make a mock-up, to cook a dish, or to do a science experiment).
Visual learners – They like data, images, graphics, and videos. The visual learner remembers 75% of what they read or see.
Verbal learners –They are natural born linguists. For them it is very important to read everything carefully to make sure that they have clearly understood the material.
Logical learners – Students with logical-mathematical learning styles use reasoning and logical sequencing to absorb information. Their strengths are in math, logic, and problem-solving. They prefer to work with numbers, find logical methods to answer questions, classify, and categorize.
Auditory learners – They remember sounds and prefer discussions and conversations. They talk about what to do and about the pros and cons of a situation. To get the best of an online course, they need to listen to audio tracks.
Social learners – They prefer to learn in groups or classes or to spend one-on-one time with a teacher or an instructor. They like to interact with other people and to brainstorm ideas. That is why it is important for them to use an online platform for discussion in order to retain the knowledge.
Intrapersonal learners – They have a solitary style and are more private, introspective, and independent. A way to support them during their online courses is to give them ways to assess their progress and to manage and plan their learning process. They are also eager to independently search for additional resources.
Naturalistic learners – Naturalistic learners often understand the patterns of living things and they apply scientific reasoning to the world. They prefer to observe and record data. By imagining the new material as an ecosystem or pattern, they easily learn the new material. They are interested in how every bit of learning material fits into the entire learning ecosystem.
In conclusion, no matter the motivation or dominant learning style of your virtual learners, it is important to assist them on their way to self-improvement by using interesting and engaging content. Undoubtedly, they will let you know whether they are bored or fascinated by your course.