How to Motivate Students (After the First Few Weeks)
Just as there are challenges to working with learners who are reluctant to participate in collaborative blogging activities, there are those student bloggers who are what i would term “embedded bloggers”, learners who are energized and highly motivated to participate in group activity. They seek validation in replies to their posts, and comments are highly motivating. However, an absence of comments by peers can de-motivate these learners. So, what to do to keep these students blogging when there are few commentators?
One effective way I have found to motivate both “private” bloggers and the embedded, or “social” bloggers is to post a meme, in which you as the instructor ask several questions (usually five or six) about a topic, and then answer them from your own perspective. The cooperative meme works when generating narratives, explaining reasons and describing experiences. It is great for facilitating group activity and connecting otherwise unconnected student bloggers. Even the private bloggers can benefit from reading others’ blog posts, and this in turn may generate a second round of replies to earlier posts, in which students either build on their own posts based on readings or comment on others’ ideas.
When embedded learners become de-motivated because they are not receiving the feedback they are seeking, or notice some learners failing to participate, there is sometimes a sense of frustration, along the lines, why should I be doing all the work? Why cannot others participate? I want to learn from others, too! From the perspective of embeede learners, these challenges are significant. It is critical to reassure the learners that these doubts are legitimate, but then also offer alternate perspectives, in which some students don’t feel comfortable interacting with others in the same way. But always make sure your encourage the embeede learners to persist, and praise their efforts. Reassure them that their efforts are appreciated by others, despite the lack of comments. Also remind them to also begin blogging to address their own concerns, and enjoy the opportunities to become more creative and spontaneous.