Martens, R., Bastiaens, T., & Kirschner, P. A. (2007). New Learning Design in Distance Education: The impact on student perception and motivation. Distance Education, 28(1), 81-93.
This week I was looking for ideas for different applications of authentic learning – constructavist style. I hoped to find examples in less typical disciplines than medical, emergency response, etc. During that search, I found the article “New Learning Design in Distance Education: The impact on student perception and motivation’. I was intrigued, especially after Craig’s reference last week about motivation from ‘perceived privilege’. This article offered a little of both topics so it was a nice fit for my current explorations.
In the article Martens, Bastiaens, and Kirschner (2007) ask if there is a difference between course designer’s perceptions and student’s perceptions of the benefits of authentic learning experiences incorporated into online classes. They found a gap.
The article opens with a very thorough introduction. Constructivism is defined and ten principles of constructivist educational design principles are reviewed. Next, they explore the problem course developers face in designing learning environments that incorporate these elements. The topic then turns to motivation, with the authors stating “The effort or motivation on which constructivist e-learning environments rely is intrinsic motivation, with its associated features, such as curiosity, deep level, processing, explorative behavior, and self-regulation.’ and “The question is not if a task is authentic, interesting, or challenging, but whether it is perceived as such by students’.
The authors also warn of including elements into a course because the technology is new, fun, and shiny, so called “technological dazzle’, rather than because of their effectiveness. Eventually they do come to the question at hand. How do students perceive different constructivist elements in their online courses? Are they as motivated by them as the course designers think they are? The answer turned out to be no. Students in two online courses at the Open University of the Netherlands “did not appreciate role-playing as much as the developers had thought they did. In their conclusion, the authors do a good job at identifying the weak points of their study and identifying areas for future research.
Overall, I learned quite a bit more from the introduction to the topic at hand than from the actual study. The authors did a good job of describing the principles of constructivist theory and in identifying the challenges of actually applying those principles in an effective way. I was particularly intrigued with the supplied definition of intrinsic motivation in relation to virtual classrooms. I suspect my next article review will have me delving further in on that topic. Though I did not come away with the examples I had initially been after, when I do find them, I believe I will look at them a little more critically and perhaps more realistically. The warning about not incorporating technology because it is new and shiny, was especially well placed with me in leu of my affinity for embracing the dazzling technology of the moment and finding new ways to use it in order to justify the time I spend learning how.