Keys to achieve higher levels of efficiency in the learning process

Tips to help improve learner motivation for learning and integrate motivation with instructional design. Recommendations to obtain high levels of efficiency in the learning process. What are the factors that can derail a project of eLearning? Social media as a great tool that students can use to share information, ideas and experiences.

Interview to Matthew Guyan - Learning and Development Officer at Lake Macquarie City Council (Australia)


(@americalearningWhat are the success keys to improve learner motivation for eLearning?

There are three things that you can do to help improve learner motivation for Learning and they are based on research findings. As humans we have three basic psychological needs and satisfying these needs will improve motivation.

  • Firstly, give the learners some autonomy as they complete their eLearning course such as the ability to choose the order of topics or areas that they can explore.
  • Secondly, eLearning provides a safe environment so give the learners opportunities to develop their competence as they complete the course, for example practice questions, the ability to make decisions that have consequences or simulated environments.
  • Thirdly, allow learners to interact during the eLearning or if this is not possible, provide space for them to connect outside of the learning event as this will satisfy their need for relatedness.


How can integrate motivation with instructional design?

John Keller’s ARCS Motivational Model of Instructional Design comprises four major factors that influence the motivation to learn – Attention, Relevance, Confidence and Satisfaction. It’s described as a problem-solving model and helps designers identify and solve specific motivational problems related to the appeal of instruction.

The four categories of motivation variables consist of sub-categories along with process questions to consider when designing:

- Attention = Capturing the interest of learners, stimulating their curiosity to learn.

  • Perceptual Arousal: What can I do to capture their interest?
  • Inquiry Arousal: How can I stimulate an attitude of inquiry?
  • Variability: How can I maintain their attention?

- Relevance = Meeting the personal needs/goals of the learner to affect a positive attitude.

  • Goal Orientation: How can I best meet my learner’s needs? (Do I know their needs?)
  • Motive Matching: How and when can I provide my learners with appropriate choices, responsibilities and influences?
  • Familiarity: How can I tie the instruction to the learners’ experience?

- Confidence = Helping the learners believe/feel that they will succeed and control their success.

  • Learning Requirements: How can I assist in building a positive expectation for success?
  • Success Opportunities: How will the learning experience support or enhance the learners’ beliefs in their competence?
  • Personal Control: How will learners clearly know their success is based upon their efforts and abilities?

- Satisfaction = Reinforcing accomplishment with rewards (internal and external).

  • Natural Consequences: How can I provide meaningful opportunities for learners to use their newly acquired knowledge/skill?
  • Positive Consequences: What will provide reinforcement to the learners’ successes?
  • Equity: How can I assist the learners in anchoring a positive feeling about their accomplishments?

Using this model can helps to design the eLearning with the learner as the focus.


Is it possible to develop and improve motivation of students with video games?

Yes, it is possible to use video games to motivate students but to develop a game for an eLearning course can be very expensive. What can be done is to use game mechanics in eLearning to help motivate students. As I mentioned earlier, satisfying students need for autonomy, competence and relatedness can help improve their motivation.

Here are some examples:

- Autonomy:

  • Allowing learners to make meaningful choices that have consequences
  • Providing learners with more than one way to reach their end goal
  • Allowing learners to customise their environment e.g. choosing a character
  • Encouraging learners to take risks and be creative during the eLearning module/course

- Competence:

  • Making the rules and goals for learners clear and structured
  • Allowing multiple opportunities to complete parts of the eLearning module/course to allow learners to build their competence
  • Requiring learners to frequently make decisions to keep the eLearning module/course moving forward
  • Measuring learner performance in multiple ways
  • Increasing the difficulty as the learner progresses through the eLearning module/course
  • Linking progression (the reward) to learner competence
  • Providing learners with constant and varied feedback and support
  • Allowing learners to review or replay earlier parts of the eLearning module/course
  • Recognise learner achievement e.g. experience points or badges

- Relatedness:

  • Providing space/areas for learner interaction and discussion e.g. forums
  • Providing opportunities for learner collaboration e.g. a group quest or challenge


How can you achieve higher levels of efficiency in the learning process?

As people learn they use their working memory to process information and their long-term memory to store information. Working memory has a very limited capacity and can only handle a limited amount of cognitive load. According to cognitive load theory (CLT) there are three types of cognitive load:

  • Intrinsic: this is the level of complexity inherent in the material being studied. There isn’t much that we can do about intrinsic cognitive load; some tasks are more complex than others so will have different levels of intrinsic cognitive load.
  • Extraneous: this is cognitive load imposed by non-relevant elements that require extra mental processing e.g. decorative pictures, animations etc. that add nothing to the learning experience.
  • Germane: these are elements that allow cognitive resources to be put towards learning i.e. assist with information processing.

The three types of cognitive load are additive so according to the theory, for instruction to be effective: Intrinsic load + Extraneous load + Germane load < Working memory capacity

So designers should do the following to assist learners in efficiently processing information:

  • Present some information via the visual channel and some via the verbal channel.
  • Break content into smaller segments and allow the learner to control the pace.
  • Remove non-essential content – this includes background music and decorative pictures that don’t add value.
  • Words should be placed close as possible to the corresponding graphics.
  • Don’t narrate on-screen text.
  • Synchronise visual and verbal content i.e. don’t place them on separate screens.


What are the factors that can derail a project of eLearning?

An eLearning project can be quite complex. There are several factors that can derail an eLearning project. Some factors that are within your control to prevent the project from becoming derailed are:

  • Regular communication between the designer and the subject matter expert (SME)
  • Being organised and follow a development process e.g. meet with the SME then create a high level design then create a storyboard then create the eLearning module
  • Involve the SME throughout the eLearning project (not just at the beginning and end)
  • Ask questions if you are unsure or need clarification
  • Follow-up the SME if they are taking too long to review or provide input as this will help the project to be delivered on time.


How can students become producers of content? Do you think the appearance of learning solutions based on social networks such as Izzui (e-learning app for Facebook – can help increase this trend?

Students can and should be producers of content! Social media is a great tool that students can use to share information, ideas and experiences. However, teachers and facilitators need to support and encourage students to uses social media like twitter, Facebook or Pinterest and well as learning solutions based on social media like Izzui. Teachers should incorporate activities that allow students to create content and share with others.

Using social media tools helps students to learn from each other and to also create a culture of sharing and collaboration before, during and after the learning event. This will support the content that is being delivered and extend the learning beyond the eLearning module or course.


Exclusive Interview by America Learning Media magazine - originally published on November 25, 2013.


*Matthew Guyan - Learning and Development Officer at Lake Macquarie City Council. Matt is an enthusiastic Instructional Designer from Newcastle (Australia). While it can be challenging at times, Matt really enjoy the challenge of instructional design. He is interested in all things learning and how learning transfer and performance can be improved. Matt also have a keen interest in a number of learning and design related areas including human cognitive architecture, motivation, technology, informal learning and social media. He is currently studying a Masters of Education in Educational Psychology at UNSW. Matt manage Learning Snippets blog, a publication space about sharing what he is learning from working and studying and to also learn from others in this field. Twitter: @MattGuyan