Increase student motivation (and reduce cheating) using Mahara

Allison Miller, eWorks Accredited Consultant

eWorks’ Accredited Consultants are training, learning and development specialists. The consultant program allows us to work with industry thought leaders to champion our award-winning learning solutions. It’s time to meet Allison Miller, eWorks’ newest accredited consultant. Read on to find out how to increase student motivation, and why Mahara rocks.

Do online students cheat?

Offering training online means that you can open up your training program to people who live outside your area or are time poor and cannot get to regular classes. Online training can, however, result in some students feeling isolated. It can also increase the risk of cheating, as you do not know your online students in the same way that you understand the strengths and weaknesses of those you teach face-to-face.

What does the research say?

A recent study managed by the New Generation Technologies business activity identified that the best way to reduce cheating is to increase your students’ motivation and interest in their training (Lang 2013 via Morris, 2014). Increasing the intrinsic or ‘what’s in it for me (WIIFM)’ value of online training provides a win-win situation for the online student, through more interaction with other people and a better learning experience as a result.

Here are some strategies to increase intrinsic motivation in your students:

  • Use activities which help you interact with your students so you get to know them better.
  • Use a variety of assessments which are real and applied, and that clearly demonstrate your students’ capabilities.
  • Develop peer activities which allow your students to interact and learn from each other.
  • Incorporate self-assessment activities which enable your students to understand why they are learning something and how they can apply what they have learned to other situations.

What does Mahara have to do with it?

Mahara, as a personal online learning space, provides a great platform to implement and manage these types of strategies:

Motivation strategy How Mahara supports this
Getting to know your students Mahara Profile and Resume features allow students to provide personal information about themselves and their previous achievements. This may also lead to opportunities for recognition of prior learning (RPL).
Applied/real assessment tasks Mahara Pages and Collections (of pages) allow students to present the outputs of their applied/real assessments by displaying images, audio, video, written work etc as an online showcase of their work. Students can use the Plan tool to create an action plan of how they are going to undertake their work. Students can then pick and choose who views these pages/collections through the controlled ‘share’ options within Mahara.
Peer activities Mahara Groups allow students to work together through forums and shared pages. This space can be used to allow online students to thrash out ideas and collaborate on group projects.
Self-assessment Mahara Journal allows students to write a personal journal about their learning journey and record ways they can use their training in other situations.

It’s a win-win!

The value add or intrinsic component of all of this is the final online portfolio of work which your students create in Mahara. They can use this online portfolio to demonstrate what they have learned and what they can actually do to other people. This is very useful when applying for jobs or to get into another course, helping to provide a point of difference for your students in a very busy job and course application market. And there we have it – motivated, successful students and satisfied, happy teachers.

Want to become an accredited consultant for eWorks? The Accredited Consultant Program offers everything a consultant needs to start delivering eWorks’ e-learning solutions. Comprehensive training is provided, together with full ‘eWorks Accredited’ branding.