Motivation in Learning environments

This week I looked at how systems create motivation for their users!

I found a few things to be pretty universal:

  • Ease into the learning (small chunks first)
  • Align with the students interests and clearly identify the intent or goal
  • Show progress to the end
  • If fun can be had- all the better!

Track how often (Streaks)
– Self motivated need for consistency
– not wanting to break a wining streak

–Nike Uses Streaks to encourage consistent momentum

Screen Shot 2013-03-09 at 10.40.40 PM

Track How Much Time (Points)
– External motivation of quantity of time
– Can work as negative reinforcement when working against a deadline

— Sleep Number encourages consistent sleep habits by charting the amount of time sleeping. Could this info help encourage consistent habits of any type?


Track with Friends (Peer Pressure)
– External motivation by comparison to friends
– Can create competition or gauge progress against peers

— MapMyRide notifies you when your friend accomplished something- It challenges you to act!


Track Progress thru content or to goal (Badges) (Chapters)
– Self Fulfillment thru collection of badges
– Helps break up goals into milestones like Chapters in a book

— Codecademy  does a nice job of “chunking” content and rewarding segmented achievements

Screen Shot 2013-03-09 at 10.46.47 PM

Prove knowledge with peer recognition (blog Post or logo)
– External accreditation by colleagues with the same certification
– Only colleagues whom have completed the milestone can certify you
– Issue a seal with their approval code on it as a recommendation/ proof of finish

— I like the way Apple application certifications are “accredited”. No matter how you learn you must pass the test, then the people who have passed are listed in their database and the students are permitted to put the certified logos on their resume or website.

Screen Shot 2013-03-09 at 10.59.53 PM


My biggest problem with digital reward systems is that there is no room for an excuse. Nike doesn’t have  a “broken ankle” excuse button when you set a running goal, so the result is that you fail and can not explain yourself. When I signed up for an interesting MOOC course, my ITP studies took precedent and I could not finish- but because of the timing and structure, I could not choose to return at a later date and make up for it.

I would argue that there is value to allowing for excuses or “off- track” activities to be added to the goal. If I were to design a MOOC interaction, I would like to allow for life to get in the way by creating goals that can be malleable. For example, if I am stuck on a subject, having the freedom to spend more time there- as sort of a time out without being penalized.




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s