eLearning & motivation of learners

El-Seoud, Seddiek, Taj-Eddin et.alt.1 (2014) mention that
… recent studies indicate that university students who have been enrolled on e-learning courses outperform those being taught on traditional courses”.
This would indicate a higher level of success using eLearning included in teaching activities.
From my point of view, the technological approach does not necessarily guarantee neither the increasing learning outcomes. Students must be motivated to learn and for me it no context exists between the use of technology and a higher motivation of students.
Motivation is, simply expressed, the reason of a person to do something. From this aspect, it is of interest, if students are motivated to learn and if the use of eLearning increases their motivation. Teaching science for many years, I made the experience that complex content and relations as often found in mathematics or physics challenge the students. I got the impression, that they rather liked to get explained such complex relations than to elaborate these in group work or using some eLearning.

How students are motivated by eLearning (or the Distance Lerning in Blended Learning)

I started a case study with students of an age of 16 (secondary highschool level) to find out their opinion. In that case study they got a distance learning unit in physics about rotation and the theory’s application to everyday processes. The unit consisted of some interactive simulations (available at their learning platform Moodle) where students could study the forces occurring during rotation. Additionally, some questions related to the shown content were asked and discussed by the students in a (moderated) forum.
A final questionnaire asked the students about their experience and feelings. One of the questions aimed for motivation:
My motivation to concern myself more intensively was increased by the eLearning unit.

The result was astonishing. No one agreed to the question (Values in brackets represent the numeric value).

Agree completely (1) 0%
Agree partly (2) 29%
Agree (3) 47%
Don’t agree (4) 24%
Means 2,94
Standard deviation 0,72
Sample n 34

I asked the students for their survey results and got the feedback that students rather prefer to get explained complex matters intensively by a good teacher than to work on their own to gain the findings and context. Some students explained their behavior by learning economy: For them it’s more time sparing to get things explained than to need a lot of time to understand the complex context.
The feedback to the way of realization was rather positive: The students appreciated the multimedia material and found it useful and well performed.

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