Mobile Communication Tools Enhance Student Motivation, Says Study

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October 17th, 2013 No Comments Other

Online learning increases students’ ability to learn at their own convenience. But in some cases the physical separation from peers and instructors can affect their motivation, leading to poor performance, dissatisfaction, and dropout.

This is where mobile technologies come to the rescue.

A new study by researchers at the Asian Institute of Technology compares motivation between groups of students being taught through an online course with and without the support of mobile communication tools. The results indicate that the tools make all the difference in student motivation.

In the experiment, one group used Moodle LMS supported by mobile communication tools, and a second group used regular LMS. A significant difference in motivation was found between the two groups, measured by the number of submitted assignments and help requests made by students.

An Online Course Motivation Survey was then carried out to assess students’ perceived levels of motivation with regard to online courses. The results revealed that the means of all motivation measures (attention, relevance, confidence, satisfaction, and collaboration) and overall motivation in students who used the proposed tools as part of the online course were higher than in those who did not.

“The attention measure showed the highest difference,” said Vatcharaporn Esichaikul, who co-led the experiment.

The tools used for intervention in the attention factor consisted of SMS (asking questions, course notifications, and announcements) and RSS (forums and news updates). The results indicated that these tools seem to be more effective than the tools proposed for the other factors (relevance, confidence, satisfaction, and collaboration).

Esichaikul said the tools were implemented on a mobile phone, extending the use of the existing Moodle learning management system (LMS) under the guidance of a mobile communication tools framework.

The framework consisted of an e-learning client, a server, and an m-learning client. The e-learning client used in the experiment consisted of learning products delivered via a web browser over a network. The study also employed some user interfaces customized to suit the proposed tools in the presentation layer of Moodle. The server delivered course information in a database to the (desktop or laptop) browser, and provided the required web services (translating LMS requests for the mobile devices). The m-learning client consisted of the text messaging system and the mobile communication tools. The former was used only by the instructors to send text messages retrieved from Moodle to individual learners, while the latter were used by learners on their mobile phones to access Moodle.

“This framework is considered to be effective in promoting learner motivation and encouraging interaction between learners and instructors as well as among learner peers in online learning environments,” she told InformED.

“This survey is particularly robust, especially in terms of content validity and reliability,” she added. “It provides clear and substantiated insight into the causal relationship between the online course approach and the learner’s motivation.”

Esichaikul said that in future research, other forms of assessment might be useful to measure online learners’ motivation, such as the number of page views and posts for each task, the number of votes made and blog posts produced, or average session duration and time between sessions.

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Saga Briggs is Managing Editor of InformED. You can follow her on Google+ or @sagamilena

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