Daniel Pink gave an interesting TED talk on the science of motivation, particularly motivation in a world that places high value on right brain conceptual abilities.
To lift the main idea:
As long as the task involved mechanical skill, bonuses worked as they would be expected: the higher the pay, the better the performance. But once the task called for “even a rudimentary cognitive skill”, a larger reward “led to poorer performance.”
At issue is the age old dilemma of intrinsic vs extrinsic rewards.
What implications and questions does this raise for online education?
At least in the business community, Pink asserts that personal autonomy produces better results. I’m not certain how relevant this is to younger minds (which work differently than adults), but online learning certainly grants a larger degree of autonomy.
There’s also the question of how this plays out in my new job (which is considerably more reliant on “right brain conceptual abilities” and functions under a good degree of autonomy).
While teaching in the classroom I was used to being pretty sequential. Focus on the task on hand, execute it, reflect, move on. This new job is an intellectual helterskelter. I’m constantly juggling 5 or 6 ideas in my head (and trying to follow up them) at once. Multitasking the follow through.
The researchers are still studying whether chronic media multitaskers are born with an inability to concentrate or are damaging their cognitive control by willingly taking in so much at once. But they’re convinced the minds of multitaskers are not working as well as they could.
Our brains just aren’t built for juggling lots of things at once.
What implications does this have for online learning?
There is a higher temptation to multitask with online learning. You can have facebook open in a tab, email in another, Pandora running in the background, Tweeter on the side, etc.
How hard does it become to execute a task? Or execute with thought?
How can teachers influence their students to focus on ONE thing? Certainly build awareness at the beginning of a class helps (I personally think running some exercises that demonstrate WHY multitasking is bad). To some extent this a self-control issue (something all teachers wrestle with – in and out of the classroom).