I just watched a TED talk by Clay Shirky on How congnitive surplus will change the world. The ideas of social motivation and congnitive surplus got me thinking about how those ideas could be applied to online learning – and when I say online learning, I mean distance education designed using social constructivist learning principles.
In the TED talk Clay shows the research results of what happens when a fine is applied to daycare pickup. In that research, the fine actually caused less compliance to the rule (that is, less people picked up their kids on time). The fine removed the social motivation to comply with the rule and replaced it with a finanical incentive.
That got me thinking about marks and online distance education. One of the techniques used to motivate students to participate in the online discussions is marks. If you don’t assign marks, the students don’t participate. But does this also have the same effect of limiting participation? That is, students participate enough to get the marks, but then stop there? Would using a social motivation techinique rather than a monitary one be more effective at motivating students to partcipate? If you could find a way to being socially generocious with their participation, would you get more meaningful dialogue?
Of course that begs the question "how do you cultivate social motivation in online courses?" Any suggestions?