Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

Design of a Motivational Scaffold for the Malaysian E-Learning Environment

Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

Design of a Motivational Scaffold for the Malaysian E-Learning Environment

Article excerpt

Introduction

This paper focuses on e-learning in higher education. Most adults pursue e- learning courses as part of their lifelong learning effort and for the purpose of upgrading and updating their knowledge and skills. In this case, e-learning, is defined as "the use of Internet technologies to deliver a broad array of solutions that enhance knowledge and performance" (Rosenberg, 2001) and, hence, is used interchangeably with online learning. The challenge for online education providers not only centres on the issue of student recruitment, but also on how to retain them in the system once they have begun (Ludwig-Hardman & Dunlap, 2003; Jain, Abu, Akhbar, & Amat- Sapuan, 2004). Despite being adults, those trudging into the online learning environment still need support and structure to assist them in building their self-learning skills and to maintain interest and persistence. It is also necessary to help students assume responsibility and take initiative for their learning. This is especially significant among learners who have for most of their education been spoon-fed during regularly scheduled classroom sessions (Hisham, Dzakiria, & Walker, 2003; Teo & Gay, 2006; Andersson, 2008).In addition, isolation and alienation may lead to online learners' feeling disconnected (Hara & Kling, 1999), to experiencing "psychological separation," to be easily frustrated and distracted when studying on their own (Bauman, 1997), and to be less aware of what is expected of them, which inadvertently results in a last-minute preparation for exams and dissatisfaction. Procrastination is also a concern in a flexible online learning environment (Song & Hill, 2007; Tuckman, 2007). It is thus necessary to provide motivational support to learners in the online learning environment, especially in the early stages of immersion into an online learning environment. Support for students must not result in actions that reinforce their dependence. Hence, using and maximizing the benefits of technology, especially in the provision of scaffolds, was seen as more suitable for handling the problem (Boyer & Maher, 2004; Boyer, Phillips, Wallis, Vouk,& Lester 2008).

The main objective of this paper is to describe the design, development, and formative evaluation of the Learning console, a web-based task support tool meant to scaffold the motivation of Malaysian e-learners. The following questions were answered based on the specific objectives of the research:

1. Design objective: What strategies should be employed to regulate the motivation of the adult e-learners?

2. Development objective: How can web technology be used to scaffold the e- learner's motivational self-regulation?

3. Evaluation objective: What is the adult e-learner's reaction to the effectiveness, practicality, and value of a Learning console?

This paper reports only the early evaluation of the tool. It is not within the scope of this paper to provide the details of the summative evaluation.

Scaffolding

The concept of scaffolding is grounded in Vygotsky's (1978) concept of assisted learning and learning potential as described by the zone of proximal development. The term scaffolding however, was introduced by Wood, Bruner, and Ross (1976) to mean tutoring or other assistance provided in a learning setting to assist students with attaining levels of understanding impossible for them to achieve without assistance. The idea of scaffolding is similar to having structures erected alongside buildings to support construction workers and later removed when the building is completed. Scaffolding involves providing learners with more structure during the early stages of a new learning venture and gradually turning responsibility over to them as they internalize and master the skills needed to engage in higher cognitive functioning (Palincsar, 1986 as cited in Ludwig-Hartman &Dunlap, 2003). …

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