Students using laptops and tablets sitting in circle for class discussion
Inside the Classroom

Sealing the Cracks in Motivation for Online Learning

In the world of education, nothing is as important as finding avenues for motivating our students. This holds true for all types of instruction, including brick & mortar, blended, or in an online specific environment. Making the switch to an online community setting can be an overwhelming task for many students and parents. With the lists of things to do, a sturdy start to a course can take a back seat to learning new systems, gathering reading materials, and ensuring software compatibility. While these are crucial to overall student success, as educators, we need to strive for forward thinking results and motivate our students to begin their classes with vigor.

The following tips have helped increase motivation in my classroom:

Build rapport early and often.

Welcome emails or phone calls are an easy thing to do but often overlooked. By simply expressing your expectations and asking about theirs, the doors to successful communication are opened. Keep in mind that these messages don’t have to be “all business.” This is a great time to find out about their interests outside of the classroom as well.

By noting the student’s hobbies and extracurricular activities, additional lines of communication between teacher and pupil can be established. Too often educators believe that simple content knowledge is enough to lead a student to success. Remember that you wouldn’t buy a car from someone you didn’t trust, nor will a student have success until trust is established and maintained.

Find out what makes students tick.

In today’s world time management is a central aspect of student achievement. With soccer games and cheerleading, to band practice and homework, it’s challenging for students to know where to begin. Our job is to take the minimal time at their disposal and maximize the results. Encourage them to take the time to form an activity calendar. Stress the importance of the inevitable tradeoffs and encourage them to keep their eyes on their goals. Praise the little things and glorify the large things; whether those are an additional hour spent on a tough subject or an incredible essay. Everyone likes a pat on the back, especially when it comes to difficult assignments and projects.

Bring the class to life.

Share your stories. Showing passion about a topic is contagious. If you are excited they will be excited, so help foster enthusiasm. Passion breeds motivation, so let them know you’re engaged every day. You can even take their interests and incorporate them into the classroom. When it comes to online learning, open communication, finding out what drives them, and bringing enthusiasm into the classroom, can help you connect with your students.

About the Author


Joseph Harclerode

Joe attended Penn State University where he received a BS in business administration and marketing. He went on to gain his master’s degree in education from California University of Pennsylvania. He resides in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with his wife Dana and their three children. Joe is a Virtual Instructor for Edgenuity and enjoys promoting student success through the innovative use of technology in education.