Why do people pay for expensive drinks in a crowded bar where they can't hear each other speak? Why do people go out of their way to sit in a certain park even when there is a park much closer to their house? Why do people hang artwork on bare walls? Humans can't seem to function without trying to beautify their spaces. Aesthetics and design are more important than people may realize. Why am I talking about this here? I have been working on this for some time and believe that one thing that can help create a meaningful, rich experience for students (online or in a class) is visually pleasing design. This, of course, only works as an addition to a well designed course that the students can "visualize the overall structure of the piece. Put simply, if they can see where you're going, they'll be more motivated to head in that direction" (McCleskey, 2009). Once you have a well designed course, "perhaps the best way to enhance learner motivation is to make sure the courseware you develop looks appealing to the eye" (McCleskey, 2009). I have had good results with well designed, full color worksheets in my kindergarten that encouraged the students to match their writing quality to the paper they were writing on. I saw improvement in their penmanship and spacing after the second worksheet. It is a bit like walking into a quiet room and immediately quieting down. This can transfer into motivation for higher expectations by simply looking the part. People pay extra money for beautiful drinks in a visually appealing location all the time. Visual stimuli is motivating them to pay more for the same thing because of design and aesthetics.
I have been studying gamification for a bit and really like the idea behind this as well. Gamification offers the unique ability to motivate students with proven game techniques like; consistant and immediate feedback, confident experimentation, rules and regulations, competition, role-playing, and others (Lee &Hammer, 2011). I have been using a form of gamification points earning in my class this year and it has structured the management of class seemlessly with the online points software I use. The students and parents can access their daily or weekly points from home and see how they are doing. I would like a better program, but it is already working and I have had many parents tell me they love it. It has even opened the door for communication, which is harder with the language barrier here in Korea. This same principle can be used in an e-learning environment to motivate students.
In my particular case, I would use these methods in a flipped classroom, if I could. I have been toying with flipping the class already but I would like to get the approval of the administrators because then I could really flip the class properly. I am slowly putting my classroom material (presentations, worksheets) online for students to access at home for homework and the students are comfortable with this idea, but I would need approval for a fully flipped classroom because i would switch from having the online material as added to it being required as part of the course and the parents would need to be aware and want to participate in that. I like the flipped classroom because at my school we still want to students to be in a location for learning, that is a pretty strong motivator for parents, especially with the problem with online addiction here. Parents want their children in a location with supervision and not to be home, especially if they are both working. Flipped classrooms would be best for my situation and my school for that reason. Fully on-line is not an option, and other types of blended learning would cause trouble with the homeroom Korean teachers because it would require restructuring classrooms a little too much because of the pods or stations. In a flipped classroom, it can appear the same as it does now except what is happening would be very different. For second language learners it would be especially beneficial because they can stop, rewatch, and slow down the lectures to make sure they understood in English (Educause, 2012). This would save time in class reiterating what I have said and answering the same question several times for clarification. I could focus my attention and time on working with each student on their work and they could be working at their own pace instead of being left behind. I think this method would best serve my needs and interests and best integrate the best practices I have mentioned previously, as well as others not mentioned here.
Click below for more information on the approached to e-learning.
Educause. (2012). 7 things you should know about flipped classrooms. Educause Learning Initiative. Retreived from https://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7081.pdf
Lee, J. J. & Hammer, J. (2011). Gamification in education: what, how, why bother? Academica Exchange Quarterly, 15(2). Retrieved from http://www.academia.edu/570970/Gamification_in_Education_What_How_Why_Bother
McCleskey, J. (2009, August). Five e-learning design strategies that keep learners coming back for more. Learning Solutions Magazine. Retrieved from http://www.learningsolutionsmag.com/articles/155/five-e-learning-design-strategies-that-keep-learners-coming-back-for-more