IST. Motivation. Informal learning. Is there a connection?

Q. How does your work in IST inform your thinking about motivation? Informal learning? What’s the connection?

It is a difficult balancing act of having enough structure and support to encourage learning, yet still allows each individual to feel as though they are contributing something significant.  Instructional design techniques such as rapid prototyping can be employed as they encourage iteration and flexibility, which would be appropriate in an informal learning environment. Other instructional design models such as van Merrienboer’s 4C-ID model for complex learning would also be useful as it draws attention to four components of Instructional Design:

  • Learning tasks
  • Supportive Information
  • JIT Information
  • Part-task Practice

Just-in-time information, for example is very important in informal learning. The ability for each learner to get the right information as they need it may help to maintain the levels of motivation that we see in Keller’s ARCS instructional model of motivation.

While the approach and the structure would be different, these Instructional Design techniques and models can be used to inform informal learning environments. In part, I think this is an area where I can have meaningful impact in the area of informal learning.  By having an understanding of ISD models such as the 4C-ID model and ARCS’s model, and others, I can help others use sound methods of Instructional Design while balancing the self-directed, autonomous, innovative, flexible, and exciting aspects of informal learning that draws so many. Even the ADDIE model, though problematic in informal learning because of the linear nature of the model, can guide a designer to conduct needs analysis and follow the other stages of the model, though perhaps in a more iterative way. All of these can help form connections with motivation and learning in informal ways, that may not have been fully explored previously.