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Intrinsic Motivation through Connected Learning

Self-determination theory posits that humans have a natural tendency towards growth and development but it does not happen automatically. A nurturing environment is necessary to help people to grow.

For a student to be able to make the most of the learning environment and opportunity, he/she should be motivated. Intrinsic motivation, in particular, is necessary for sustained effort and deeper learning. Each student is a different individual and their interests may differ widely. To connect the subject content to each of the varied interests of the student is not an easy task. Hence, it may be difficult and require lengthy preparations to foster intrinsic motivation in students.

This is where I felt that connected learning environment could play a vital role. When we let students to work on ideas that they value, allow them to set goal(s) on their own, and provide support to help them achieve those goal(s), we could potentially help them foster a deep sense of motivation to master the skills necessary to achieve their goals. There are three main aspects that needs to be paid attention to:

  1. Personalization: Students should pick up the topic that they are interested in. This should be personal and should not be enforced upon them based on the syllabus/standards. Allowing students to work on projects and ideas that they value will encourage students to learn in a greater depth and will also help them imbibe the idea of learning being a lifelong process.
  2. Autonomy: Studies have found that autonomy leads to greater motivation and hence allowing students to determine goal(s) on their own is highly important. Some learning goals may not be as ambitious as a teacher may want to have, but teachers should not try to change the goals. Instead, they could help students learn more during the process, or encourage them to add goals once the earlier goal is achieved.
  3. Teacher and Peer Involvement: In the digital world, there is a plethora of information available. It is easy to lose ones way within the pile of information. There are also issues with privacy and security in the digital world. Hence, teacher’s support and guidance, is imperative to enhance students’ learning experience.  The guidance should be of the “right amount” – not so much that the student feel being spoon-fed or become heavily dependent but also not so less that students are overwhelmed.
    Additionally, students should be encouraged to collaborate with their peers. Learning from peers, working in collaboration, seeking support and feedback, and providing support and feedback are valuable skills. However, considering student’s autonomic choices, collaborative and peer learning should not be enforced.

If we create such an environment, students will be highly motivated to learn. Connected learning environment, as discussed in this video, if executed well, promotes such an environment.




  1. Nice 3 areas of connected learning mentioned here! I think it’s nice to have a twist in how you mention things, because technology didn’t really play a role in the first two points of your perspective. On how students should have the freedom to study what they want… And how they can get a say in what they do. As well as having autonomy, which sometimes schools lack. Especially when schools are focused on getting good standardized test scores… It destroys the desires of the students. However, if they are granted this, as well as some technology and some guidance, things will be great. Everything in moderation, is good!

  2. Mary Semaan

    I think that connected learning needs to be a small part of the existing curricula, especially in school-age children. If left to study on their own, most kids will choose the easy way out and just out it out minimal effort. However, connected learning needs to find its place in our lives and it can only heighten and enrich our learning experiences, as you so eloquently put it.

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