How to motivate someone?
In the first part of the introduction we presented some of the factors that can lower the motivation level among the participants of an online course. Now we will talk about those factors that boost activity and systematic learning. Please note that not all of them will work on the same course.
The facilitator cannot assume that the participants will go through the course with the same level of motivation that they had at the beginning. Making an effort to keep and increase motivation is essential.
On a more specific level the facilitator should:
- Try to understand differences in motivation among participants. They are in the course for various reasons and have a different motivation for learning. Not all motivational methods will be universal. For one person it might be enough that their efforts are appreciated and someone else will work for the final certificate.
- Organise the work environment sufficiently. If a participant spends more time on mastering the tools and trying to understand the expectations than on the actual learning, then achieving the basic course objective will indeed require great perseverance. Particular attention should be paid to the selection of tools. It is good to add variety to the course but using too many applications (not to mention issues with their functionalities) may make some people feel lost and demotivated.
- Help with difficulties. Despite the facilitator’s efforts you can expect unforeseen difficulties. When they emerge they have to be solved quickly and effectively.
- Set realistic expectations. Objectives set for the participants should be challenging but achievable. An appropriate level of a course’s difficulty is a motivating factor.
- Give freedom. The course participants often start with various levels of knowledge. They also have different specific objectives. Therefore it is impossible to meet everybody's expectations. However, we can satisfy everyone by giving them more freedom. This can be achieved by designing exercises that allow creative answers or refer to participants’ own experiences or professional practice.
- Provide feedback on a constant basis. The facilitator should be active and co-participate in the course. They should continously comment on discussions, exercises, and questions.
- Praise. A carrot is a much better technique than a stick. Participants who have done something well should be rewarded and this usually increases motivation to work.
- Mobilise inactive participants. There are people who are not very active or their level of engagement drops during the course. They shouldn’t be left behind. It is always useful to find out why they are inactive and what can be done with that, so that they return to a more systematic way of working.
- Try to maintain a pleasant atmosphere. A team can be very effective even if the relations between the members are only work-related. Nevertheless, it might be helpful when the participants like each other, or, at least there are no long-lasting conflicts. A positive climate is beneficial for effective group learning.