Learner motivation differs in each learner according to circumstance. Yet a common factor shared by many elearners, of all ages, is their isolation.
This year, I feel privileged to have a daughter who is studying in her first year of a BA course in Fine Art at AUT. I’m equally as fortunate to also watch her younger sister pilot her way through her first examinable year at High School.
The role of the parent
My daughters are capable learners, but I’m always aware of the roles my wife and I play in providing necessary support with their study.
As parents and supervisors, we are appreciative spectators, sounding boards, mentors, fund managers and sometimes even punch-pillows, for we love our daughters dearly.
Hannah is hostelling in Auckland; her family lives in Wellington. The presence of the Internet and reliable mobile phone reception permit a free flow of communication which we take advantage of every day. Despite the 500 kilometres between us, these digital links can close the distance, effectively at times to within a few centimetres.
Motivation and support
While adult learners often have a maturity that permits a greater focus on engagement, some can find it just as difficult to knuckle down to study as do teenagers. Elearners need support, and not only from their learning resources or their teachers.
A solo mother can find her motivation for learning academic skills dulled through the importance of her necessary child-care responsibilities.
A mother, who has a partner who may be less committed to her study, can meet similar snags to her motivation.
In much the same way as the younger learner needs support from parents or caregivers, a learner who is in a relationship needs support from his or her partner.
The eteacher may well be aware of circumstances where an elearner’s home lacks necessary study support. But what can a teacher do about such a situation so that there is benefit to the learner?
Relationships between the teacher and the learner's caregiver can play an important part in assisting home support. Caregivers are not always aware of the needs of the learner. For instance, aspects such as the need for access to a computer and other study requisites may not be understood.
Communication between teacher and caregiver can often help solve learner difficulties. But sometimes it is as demanding for the teacher to engage the supervisor as it is to engage the learner.
How on earth do eteachers go about tackling this challenging task?