Reflecting Allowed

Maha Bali’s blog about education

#fedwiki and the Genius of Intrinsic Motivation


I have been thinking a lot about intrinsic motivation lately, coupled with the idea of emotional involvement in learning as I posted earlier. I think about it in relation to my own teaching, my learning, my interaction with colleagues, and also very importantly, the way I motivate my own child (this one is EXTREMELY tricky).

I thought I needed to go back to the literature on intrinsic motivation, and what drives informal learning to flourish for some people with some things but not others, and I think there is definitely an emotional connection there. I thought Steve Wheeler might have something to say about this in a concise way, and he does, here. He mentions how in PLE (Personal Learning Environments) and informal learning, we learn because we are interested. We persist because of the intrinsic motivation (although apparently there are elements of extrinsic motivation there, too), and he seems to be suggesting that what we need to attempt to do in formal learning situations is to bring this kind of feeling in. Sort of. I think it has a lot to do with falling in love with a thing as Pappert says in Mindstorms, and focusing on what students will care about, or making sure students care, as Dave Cormier says. I am often confused about how community relates to motivation: is it an intrinsic or extrinsic motivator? I mean, people are external to ourselves, but our enjoyment of them is internal. Do we enjoy them because of some trigger they do or some need for approval we are seeking or some such external thing, or do we just enjoy them because they are? I would guess both?

I remembered while writing this that I had read and written about motivation in educational gaming recently (see, blogging is useful for this kind of thing) and now I am also reviewing a book about computer games for learning (will blog soon). Some of the things pulled from motivation theory in the chapter I was reading include:  attention, curiosity, challenge, relevance, contextualization, giving learners control, confidence and satisfaction, as well as social. (I write more about this in my earlier post so I just pulled some keywords; interesting I am still talking about the social intrinsic/extrinsic today)

I think a lot about this because I know I’m someone who has (for all my life?) been this person who’s always doing extracurricular learning much more passionately than whatever is assigned. This may sound obvious to everyone else, but you need to look around you at people who do NOT use their free time in this way. Who do all sorts of things that don’t obviously contribute to their learning in their free time. Maybe they’re watching TV and learning something from it, or going out with friends (which is important, I am not discounting its value) or facebooking nonsense (now that is a waste of time, I think, but there are worse pastimes) – as opposed to someone like me – when there are no other people around me that I need to pay attention to (e.g. when I am in the car commuting) I’ll probably be MOOCing, tweeting, reading blogs or books or whatever. Before cMOOCs and social media, I still found ways to join something I would learn from, sometimes with a community (there actually were free online courses back in the day, by the way, long before someone called them MOOCs, I’m talking 2003 and Nick Kearney and I met through one of those called Ikarus. I even have the blogposts to prove it).

[Now hang on a second. This only started happening to me when I moved into the field that I was passionate about: education. This was not me when I was working in IT at Procter & Gamble. I did not at the time spend my free time learning about IT stuff. I did read all sorts of psychology and education stuff when I knew this was where I was leaning, though.]

But I think Mike Caulfield is a genius of sorts at tapping into our intrinsic motivation for this #FedWiki happening – to have people who work on this totally foreign thing on their holidays?

Here are some examples of intrinsic motivation in #Fedwiki:

First thing I did this morning when I woke up was edit Frances’ page about how different approaches to our neighborhoods. You could argue that this was extrinsically motivated because Frances asked me to do it, but really, she has no power/pressure over me to do it. I could take it or leave it. But I was interested in what she was trying to do, and so I did it.

After my kid woke up, I got busy with her (but enjoyed reading Alan Levine’s excellent blogpost on the party not being over)

When my kid napped today, I figured out how to add a new external person to my happening folks AND updated the SFW documentation to clarify how it is done (coz the documentation didn’t work for me). Check out my happening folks page to see that i now have David Hale and also the SFW HOW-to-wiki pages 🙂

First thing I did a couple of other mornings was try to hangout with Mike Caulfield. It failed horribly twice, but worked wonderfully a few days ago.


I gotta run!


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Get every new post on this blog delivered to your Inbox.

Join other followers:

%d bloggers like this: