Do we instructional designers have to see beyond a course design? I mean to what extent do we want to get involved to ensure the designed courses are used effectively by learners? Do we have to consider learners’ interest or motivation in a course? Before, my answer to these questions was as long as I follow a model and some learning theories coupled with engaging activities, I should be proud of my course. Our job ends once a course is pilot tested and delivered to stakeholders. Then we move on to the next project.
Even though there is a feedback system in place, it never taps on how the learners feel at the beginning and end of a course; if they feel motivated to complete the course; or whether they are demotivated, etc. The feedback questions normally address the usability of a course.
I recall when teaching ESL, I had some students who were not interested in language learning at all, and they were doing the course out of obligation. In order to get them interested, preaching did not help much; so I asked about their interests and hobbies. Then I gave them assignments specifically designed according to their interests, and made them either do presentations or summaries of them. The purpose of the presentations or summaries, which were to be shared with the rest of the class, was to give them a sense of recognition, resulting in their being more motivated. Sometimes I modified my teaching strategies to get them interested. Eventually it did work for the majority of them.
My personal goal to become an instructional designer was to do more for learners, since there were always constraints at schools and colleges in terms of their syllabuses. I would be asked by the heads to follow exactly the syllabus in order no to increase the students’ expectations of other teachers. Following the text books and course materials religiously across all classes was the main priority.
I’m aware of the fact that with mass production of eLearning courses, personalizing them for a specific group might not be practical due to constraints; however, there are still avenues to cater to the needs of such learners.
Here’s what I’ve gathered as some ways to address the needs of demotivated learners:
- Include some activities (online/class) in the course package for the demotivated
- Add an introductory video, which not only gives an overview of the course, but provides information on how useful the course can be in real-life
- Provide a study skills guide
- Add guidelines for instructors to reach out to the learners who lose interest or fall behind
- Above all, stay connected with learners, and always try to find out more about them. Our job is not merely to deliver the project and leave it to the learners or instructors to worry about the rest.
- Include reflection activities which require the learners to write about their progress and challenges and share them with their instructors. It would be best if you could also go through them to learn more about them.
In the end, I’d like to share this thought-provoking video by Richard Sites & Angel Green, which emphasizes putting more design in instructional design.