The 8 Types of Motivation You Need to Know for Online Learning

By Alicia Beharry, January 26, 2021
Online Learning Motivation

When selling courses online, you need to understand why learners are taking your online learning program. Answering this will help you keep them engaged.

If you are trying to get new learners to sign up for a course you have created, or you are trying to keep learners engaged in a course they are already enrolled in, you need to ask yourself two key questions: Why do learners enroll in my online learning program? And how can I keep them motivated to keep going?

The key to almost every successful online learning program is motivation. If your learners are not motivated enough, growing your online course will be an uphill battle. There are some educators that may view motivation as out of their control, something their learners either possess or don’t. Contrary to that belief, if you understand learner motivations, you can talk to your learners in ways that ignite those motivations and inspire them to keep going.

Motivation is a tricky, multi-faceted thing. There are two types of motivation: intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic motivation comes from within. This is when motivation comes from “internal” factors to meet personal needs. We do things we do because we enjoy them, not because we have to. Whereas extrinsic motivations are those that come from “external” factors, that are given or controlled by others. Both are very different and may lead to contrasting outcomes. 

There are different types of intrinsic and extrinsic motivations, let’s take a closer look so we can help motivate your learners along their journey in your online course.

1) Extrinsic: Incentive

This extrinsic motivation is fairly straightforward. It is through an incentive. If your learners were to receive some kind of reward for taking your online course, they are more likely to stick with it. It is most common for incentives to be monetary, like a raise for example.

They can also come in the form of some other prize or reward. A learner whose motivation is only by incentive will stop taking your course once the incentive goes away. Incentives can also come above other motivations. For example, a learner may want to take your course but is having a hard time juggling it, along with their other obligations. An incentive can really help them to prioritize their time.

2) Extrinsic: Power

Many learners sign up for an online course because they want the ability to change something about the world around them. It could be that they need a certain certification before they do field work, or they want to become environmental activists. The bottom line is they want to feel empowered and your online course will give them the power to do so.

A common example in the workplace is if an employee wants a promotion, they might need to take management training. A salary increase may be an incentive, but gaining a position of authority is also a motivation.

3) Extrinsic: Fear

We know, the word fear instantly sounds negative. But it necessarily isn’t. For example, it may motivate a learner to take your compliance course for fear that their company will fail an audit. Their reward for taking your course is the security of knowing they have done what they can to meet all their requirements.

On the other hand, another learner may be motivated by fear to sign up for self defense classes, but after taking the classes, they will feel empowered. Although the motivation of your learner might be fear, your course provides something positive, which is security and reassurance. 

4) Extrinsic: Social

It is very common for learners to sign up for a course because they have to. But many learners stay because of the social connections they have made. When social bonds are formed, they are some of the most powerful motivations out there.

They can completely transform a learners experience of your online course. Social motivations are a great example of an external motivation that is just as compelling as an internal one. I mean there is a reason social media is a major influencer. People really enjoy sharing their successes!

5) Intrinsic: Achievement

Learners that are achievement-oriented are more task-driven than those that are in it purely for learning’s sake. These learners want something specific and are most likely tracking their goals and milestones toward achieving it. They are similar to learners who are motivated by an external incentive. They might want to run in a marathon and have signed up to your online training class to get into preparation. No one is making them do it, it may be something they want to do just to cross it off their bucket list. That intrinsic motivation is strong enough for anyone to work with.

6)  Intrinsic: Competence

Many people are simply natural-born leaders. They have a sheer love of learning and like acquiring new skills and knowledge. They love to learn for their own sake and will do so without much outside force or pressure. With these learners, you need to make sure your course will help them toward their goals and not get in the way of their daily life.

One downside of this motivation is that these learners are more likely to drop out of your course if they fall into a rut or become discouraged. If competence is the main motivator of your learners, try offering them some extra support by implementing motivational quotes or reminders to help get them through a rut and brighten their day.

7) Intrinsic: Creativity

At some point in our lives, many of us may feel like we need a creative outlet. Finding a new avenue for creative expression is a good motivation, and can be even more fulfilling than the desire to cross an item off a list. For instance, people become artists without ever desiring to show off their work. In other words, this learner may not need to become very good at what they are learning. Instead, they find fulfillment in the desire of cultivating their own form of creative expression. This also offers them an outlet to destress and express themselves as they please.

8)  Intrinsic: Attitude

Lastly, some learners are motivated by their desire to modify their perception of the world. They want to change their perspectives and broaden their outlook. It makes them feel good to learn more about others, grow in self-understanding, and help others with self-growth as well. For example, if you are marketing an online course on interracial relations, self-help, or cognitive therapy, these would all be examples of courses significantly influenced by attitude motivations.

The reasons behind why learners will take your online course vary and may change over time. Your learner could begin taking your course because of an external incentive but continue with further courses because they enjoy the feeling of improved competency.

Another learner may start a course because they want a fresh perspective, and continue on because of the social benefits they have acquired along the way.

The more motivations you can offer your learners to continue with your course, they are more likely to rave about your course to their peers and stick with you in the long run. Invest in learning about your learners and their motivations. Being capable of speaking to their needs will increase their positive feedback about your course and inspire them to persevere. 

SkyPrep provides an easy to use online learning platform that allows you to easily create courses and get your training program up and running quickly. To learn more about SkyPrep and to discuss your training needs request a demo today!

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