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Using Technology to Motivate Learners

Technology continues to open up new opportunities for motivating language learners. Unlocking the considerable potential of technology depends on institutions, teachers, learners, and communities working together to understand how it can best be implemented in a specific context.
When technology is used with a clear understanding of the benefits it can offer and of the potential learning and motivation outcomes, it is more likely that its adoption will foster and sustain learner motivation. This paper summarizes key lessons learned from research and practice in the use of technology for motivating learners.
It contains a number of new insights that have emerged inrecent years. Many of the benefits of technology relate to its potential to create connections between the classroom and learners’ lives, interests, and experiences beyond it. With careful and consistent support, teachers can help learners develop the skills and confidence to use technology effectively to manage and find personal meaning in their learning.
Taking an integrated approach to implementing technology into the curriculum and classroom practice will help to maximize its potential benefits and enhance learner motivation. This requires careful management and coordination by all stakeholders, including curriculum developers, teachers, and administrative staff.
Support for teachers and learners is at the heart of realizing the potential benefits of technology for motivation and learning. Teachers need to be able to develop their own skills in working with technology. Learners need appropriate opportunities that are driven by their needs and interests and give them the tools to assume greater responsibility for their own learning. The key messages in this paper are that:
• technology can have a significant impact on motivation by increasing learners’ sense of autonomy, relatedness, and competence
• technology can support learning in a wide range of both formal and informal learning spaces
• successful implementation of technology is always context-specific and requires integration into the curriculum and classroom practice
• the effective use of technology requires careful preparation and appropriate support for both teachers and learners.

You can download the position paper for free here


10 Rules for Encouraging Interaction In and Beyond the Classroom

At a time when learners are expected to move between different - often new - learning environments, how can we ensure they are able to participate actively? In this presentation I recently did for Cambridge University Press, I present 10 'rules' based on best practice and research.

Learning Analytics for Language Teachers

Learning anaylytics and data mining hold tremendous potential for language education. However, to most teachers the topic may seem obscure, highly technical and far removed from classroom practice. Nothing could be further from the truth. In the short article below, I will show you how language data is accessible and of great use to teachers (and learners). The full reference is: Reinders, H. (2018). Learning analytics for language learning and teaching. Jaltcall Journal 14(1), p.77-86.

Here you can read the article.


Cambridge University Press Digital Day Q&A

We recently had a panel Q&A with CUP on digital teaching, with questions from people coming live from around the world. This was a lot of fun! The session was recorded and you can watch it here.

What is learner autonomy and why would I care about it?

Learner Autonomy is, first and foremost, a mindset. A way of thinking about learning as a journey where you decide where to go, and how to travel. You may occasionally hire a tour guide to explain about the local sights, but then you’re on the road again, to wherever the events and the people you meet take you. Sometimes you go directly to the next town, and sometimes you stop for a drink on the way. Sometimes you go to the museum, and sometimes for a hike in the mountains. Sometimes you read about the history of the sights, and sometimes you just soak up the atmosphere. Sometimes you feel great, and sometimes you are homesick. And sometimes, you just need a break.

Autonomy, then, is an intimately personal affair. It is about your life, about what you want to achieve, and what you enjoy. In this way, it is the only way to learn successfully in the long term. Because no one knows you better than you do, and no one can make your choices for you, autonomy requires you to get to know yourself better. Becoming autonomous is a process of discovery.

Because autonomy is about you and starts from within you, it cannot be forced upon you. You, and you alone, can make the decision to start this journey. But just as good travellers listen to others and learn from their experiences, good learners are not islands. They rely on others to offer insights, and occasionally, show them the way.

Autonomy is thus about freedom, both freedom from being told what to do, and the freedom to do what you think is best. Autonomy does not live happily in places without choice and it does not prosper in places where one part of the population is disadvantaged. Restrictions on what to learn or how to learn do not favour the development of autonomy.

Want to learn more? Join the free online Learner Autonomy LAB sessions

The Research Institute for Learner Autonomy Education (RILAE) promotes research, professional development, and best practice in developing lifelong and lifewide autonomous learning. We have an active community of practitioners and researchers and offer regular, free online sessions for professional development and to share ideas. You can read more about the upcoming schedule on the RILAE website (will go live by November 2017).