Motivators for engaging in e-learning

One of the things I am reflecting on this week is what motivates teachers to engage with e-learning.  Many of the people I’m starting to interact with via blogs and Twitter are already pretty engaged in e-learning, but what was it that got you motivated to get engaged.  Do you find it easy to get other colleagues engaged?  If you’ve got a a few seconds perhaps you could complete the short poll below.

P.S. Following on from Anne Marie’s comment I’m thinking specifically about what motivated you to start learning about and using e-learning in your teaching, ie developing interactive content, using virtual worlds or using Web 2.0 tools like blogs and wikis with your students.

Many thanks!


  1. Hi
    I am not 100% sure what you mean by engaging with e-learning. Do you mean learning about e-learning tools to use with students, and using them, or do you mean for one’s own personal development.

    I started my blog so that I could have an opportunity to meet other educators and join in a process of reflection. You could say that this would facilitate scolarship in higher education. This is something that I want to write more about!

    I also wanted to learn more about different tools so that I could consider whether it was worth trying to introduce them to students, and which ones would match our needs.

    But my fuller engagement has made me think more about the way that healthcare could be changing and the implications this should have for medical education. This is what I think I can learn most about from my onlibe presence.

    The question is, if you are involved in assessment in medical education or curriculum design, what could you currently gain from being online? Where are the conversations about the hot topics in medical education that you hear being talked about in conferences?

  2. Hi Anne Marie

    I was thinking more about engaging with e-learning from the point of using it in your teaching with students, ie developing interactive online content or using e-learning tools with students. I’ll edit the posting to make this a bit clearer.

    Some teachers don’t seem to want to look at adopting e-learning and technology to support their teaching or course delivery, is this because they are scared of technology? For those teachers who are adopting and applying e-learning in their teaching what was it that sparked that motivation?

    In terms of personal development, my motivation for starting a blog etc were similar to yours, the same with looking at various tools.

    Your last point I find particularly interesting. I’ve heard that there are more and more abstracts being submitted about e-learning to medical education conferences but where is the discussion being continued online? Do people feel it’s not appropriate to continue the discussion on-line? There might not be much talk on hot topics in medical education online, but I still think there are things we can gain from being on line and getting connected.

  3. Hello again!

    OK, now I’m clearer. I’d say that there I wouldn’t start using lots of different technologies until I heard some good stories about how they have worked. I’m not even saying it would have to be a publication in a journal- success stories in blogs would also inspire me.
    But there are few about. If anything, most stories are of failure to get students to engage with these technologies. So we need to understand what the barriers are for students and be clear about what the educators are trying to achieve in the first place.
    Then we can really move on and use them well.

    Next, my last point had been that online should have something for all medical educators, not just interested in the use of technology, but it doesn’t yet.

    And you are right that there is not even discussion of elearning! I met someone who presented at ASME last year about using web 2 tools in a Masters course. I sent her links to my blog but I am not sure if she ever read it! The same is true for a few others who are doing work now and may be publishing in the future. It seems absurd to me that you would try and encourage students to use a technology that you don’t feel you can gain anything from yourself. No wonder we are not having more positive stories to share.

    OK, look forward to hearing from others!

  4. I teach in residence but have always worked to integrate technology into my teaching. Years ago my interests moved to providing online content, but what I wanted was a way to engage a conversation on every page of what I shared. Prior to blogging platforms that was really hard — there was always this cycle of posting content to an LMS, students would click on it, go read it, and if they had something to say had to come back into the LMS to engage. By the time you go through those motions the moment is over.

    The motivation for this has always been greater student engagement and interaction. I am constantly searching for tools that help me make the classroom feel less like a classroom — I want learning spaces that aren’t constrained by the typical things. I want to be with students who are intrinsically motivated to engage and sometimes providing them with good opportunities through technology helps.

  5. @Cole I really like the way you are making blogging available to everyone at Penn State and looking to use technology to engage students through your Hot Teams and Engagement Projects. Do you find students are engaging and actively using the technology to support and enhance their learning? I’ve just recently taken up my current post and I found your latest post about reflections on academic computing quite inspiring. I’m wondering whether trying to so something along the lines of your Hot Teams might be a way to help increase understanding and engagement with my colleagues.

  6. I think the notion of the Hot Team is a good one — grabbing a small group of people and asking the to quickly answer a handful of questions seems to really work. With that said, it takes time. Time to get people on board with the vision that what we should be doing is creating opportunities. Who cares about some of the other stuff — build platforms that empower people. At the end of the day the stories our audiences tell will be the ones that make the difference. Email me and we can start to talk about how it all fits together. Thanks for the kind words about the post!

  7. @ Anne above I have a couple of interests in education: My Masters in Education (at Warwick) and a desire to get to grips with e-learning on a number of levels for the ARC, for my own independent site, for Warwick Medical School.

    I’ve started using some commercial software to embed video commentry, Quizes into PPT files to try and get students more enthused. See an example here

    Pretty much a first attempt, but it can work so well.
    The beauty of this is that its basically idiot proof. I gain, it helps my teaching, the students gain, they are impressed, I can publish and present at conferences on the strength of the content.

    But.. Its a nightmare integrating them into my own LMS (moodle) and I’d hate to start trying to embed it into the Universities own custom site will be difficult. So what I have is a series of tools that work in theory but in practice fall by the wayside.

    I’m looking at virtual patient projects and its really tricky to decide on an interface that’s either powerful and unusable or usable but not so powerful, or usable and powerful but too expensive. I think the only answer is large scale collaboration, the type that brought us things like Wikimedia commons. Certainly on a local level without the support of the trust and university IT and e-learning bods, I am nowhere.

  8. @ James Thanks for sharing the link to the content you’ve created. What tool did you use to create the content you linked too – was it Articulate or something similar? Tools like Articulate should output to SCORM which should integrate into Moodle and Blackboard etc.without problems.

    At the moment we are quite reliant on techy types putting content together for online learning but there are more tools being developed which have usability very much at the heart of them. Some of the tools aren’t very usable for the average teacher and some of the outputs don’t look that inspiring either.

    I agree with you about the need for collaboration. I thought there was quite a bit of e-learning expertise in the medical school at Warwick. Certainly happy to follow up with you further if that would be helpful.

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