Leveraging Multitasking Opportunities to Increase Motivation and Engagement in Online Classrooms: An Action Research Case Study

Leveraging Multitasking Opportunities to Increase Motivation and Engagement in Online Classrooms: An Action Research Case Study

Glenda A. Gunter (University of Central Florida, Orlando, FL, USA) and Robert F. Kenny (Department of Leadership, Technology and Research, Florida Gulf Coast University, Ft. Myers, FL, USA)
Copyright: © 2014 |Pages: 14
DOI: 10.4018/ijopcd.2014100102
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Newer social media have brought about attention deficits brought on by a flood of distractions, such as text messaging, blogging, and browsing on mobile devices and laptops brought into the classroom. It appears that online learning places the same demands on learners' ability to remain on-task and focused. While following up on assessing the benefits of live satellite broadcasts from remote areas of the world, the researchers made several interesting discoveries about the nature of the design of the content management system that delivered the classroom experience. The interface included a means by which students could synchronously chat during the live broadcasts. The ability to multitask appeared to increase participants' engagement in the class and their sense of social presence. The researchers present their results based on the results of a pre and post participant questionnaire to determine how best to sustain student engagement and interaction in a distance-learning environment.
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Assessing Motivation, Social Presence, And Instructor Immediacy

We suggest that assessing student motivational levels early in the semester can be a strong predictor of their success in a course, regardless if it is taught face-to-face or online (Baynton, 1992; Cavanaugh, 2003; Coggins, 1988; Gunter, 2007; Miltiadou, 2000). We have found through our own research and our review of long-standing practices reported in the literature that two practices appear to have the most significant positive impact on motivation, regardless of modality: social presence and teacher immediacy (Gunawardena & Zittle, 1997, authors’ names removed, 2007; Rath, 2012). Students need to know that their presence in the class matters and that their instructor and peers recognize their standing and contributions to the intellectual discussions. We further suggest that, while studies that assess the relative importance of the demand for social presence and instructor immediacy in online learning environments are somewhat incomplete, the former appears to be the more significant need of the two.

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