Five Tips For Motivating an Online Learner


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By Elizabeth Bisel - Posted on 01 June 2010

Senioritis, Short-Timers Syndrome, or just plain laziness. Call it what you want, but students can lose their focus or motivation for a number of reasons. This is a topic that is discussed daily among online educators, learners and parents. Here are a few tips you can use to motivate your online learner and help them be successful!

  1. Provide them with the materials and supplies that they need. In online learning, dependable internet and a working computer are the most important resources that your student will need.  Other materials might be notebooks, pens and pencils, and a space to keep everything. In addition, students need to be provided with a well lit learning environment that is away from many distractions. Many students want to listen to music or the television while doing their school work because they believe that it helps them focus.  While that may be the case on easier assignments, it can become a distraction with more difficult assignments. 

  2. Develop a daily and weekly schedule. Your family’s schedule is probably busy and because of that, school needs to be planned.  Although online learning allows a lot of flexibility, there needs to be some structure.  Help your student create daily and weekly tasks and write it all down in a calendar or planner (Google Calendar works great).  Once you have helped your student create a few weeks’ worth of schedules, let them try it on their own.

  3. Give support and encouragement. Give your student frequent and timely praise when they do well and avoid using criticism when they are struggling.  You will find that praise takes you a lot further and helps motivate your student to do better. This will help your student feel more confident about his or her abilities and that you are proud of their accomplishments.  When your student comes to you with a problem, help them find a solution.

  4. Monitor your student’s work. You should always know what your student is working on, when they will be taking an exam, and how their research papers are coming along.  By staying informed, you can support your student with their education.  Ask them questions around the dinner table about what they are learning and show a real interest.  Your interest in their education will go a long way to building their interest in their education.

  5. Set goals together.  When your student first starts his or her courses, set some goals for completion.  This can be goals related to timeframe, grades or both.  Starting the process with goal setting will set the tone for the school year and help make it a more positive experience.  After your first initial goal setting session, schedule weekly or even daily meetings with your student to create goals for the coming week and make sure that the previous weeks’ goals have been met.  This will help keep you aware of any problems that come up and also give you the opportunity to praise your student for the accomplishments that they have had. 

If you are struggling with an unmotivated student, make some small changes to your family’s educational habits and you may find that your student starts to make progress. What do you think?  What are some other ways to motivate online learners? 

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