2nd MATEL Workshop at European Conference for Technology Enhanced Learning (ECTEL 2011)

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John Cook, London Metropolitan University
Teresa Holcher, ZSI
Andreas Schmidt, FZI
Verónica Rivera Pelayo, FZI

Motivational and affective aspects are frequently neglected in technology-enhanced learning although they are one of the most important factors when it comes to acceptance and success of such solutions. However, our understanding of these aspects and the implication this understanding would have on concrete solutions is very fragmented:

Pedagogical models emphasize the importance of holistic perspectives on learning, but still (implicitly) consider these aspects as peripheral. We also know little, e.g., about reflection on emotions and one’s own motivation. On the technology side, it is often unclear where and how to consider those aspects in the tool design as it requires a much wider perspective. Here, the affective computing strand has concentrated on tackling emotions, but so far has had little relationship to learning. CSCW research (particularly as part of the Web 2.0 hype) had a closer look at the influences on collaboration. The (serious) games approach to learning is mainly a response to the motivational success of gaming, but struggles with how to combine this effect with a didactical approach. In workplace settings, particularly in knowledge management, this has been recognized as key success factor to ensure that introduced instruments and tools are getting used. However, many approaches have concentrated only on incentives, both in terms of monetary rewards and other extrinsically motivation schemes which are designed mainly as top-down instruments – with mixed success. Psychology has investigated this topic area in depth from a theoretical and experimental point of view, but there is often a gap between generic theories of motivation and concrete implications for didactical settings, tool design, and organizational guidance.

We are convinced that we can meet these challenges only in an interdisciplinary way. Therefore we want to bring together in this workshop the different perspectives on the topic in order to foster the formation of a community between psychology, sociology, pedagogy, CSCW and computer science.




After Andreas Schmidt setting the theme of the workshop with an introductory presentation, John Cook stimulated the discussion by presenting the motivational challenges of upscaling of the people tagging system in the MATURE IP to a larger network practice. The discussion has shown that scale makes a big difference for TEL systems, i.e., whether we address smaller teams, mid-sized communities or larger networks. Both the downscaling and the upscaling of a given system is a challenge.

In the second presentation, Teresa Holocher highlighted the concept of learning goals as part of self-directed workplace learning that is in the focus of the IntelLEO project. In the discussion, the role of goals was seen as ambivalent - explicit goals can be benefecial to learning, but can also have a negative impact. However, it was also noted that "goals" or "objectives" may have connotations based on the respective background so that replacing "goal" by "topic" can also help to overcome resistance to goals.

Andreas Schmidt presented the experiences gathered by Christine Kunzmann in addressing motivational and affective aspects in the MATURE IP and the MIRROR IP. In both projects, ethnographically informed studies were conducted to learn about the relevant aspects of the target context. Compared to purely observational methods, ethnographically informed studies encompass immersing into practice in order not only to learn what happens, but also why and how. Experiences have shown that such studies can be beneficial, but there is also a lower limit in terms of time that needs to be invested. In the course of the discussion, participants have also confirmed that when we are designing systems, we need to have a differentiated look at the target users. So "don't design for the average user".

Finally, Angela Fessl and Verónica Rivera Pelayo presented the results of a biosensor study in the MIRROR IP that aimed at providing support for reflection, particularly concerning affective aspects at the workplace. Such sensors can open the perspective on affective aspects at the workplace, while also resistance could be observed when it comes to interference with existing coping strategies.

After lunch, major discussion topics from the morning discussion were identified, which led to a discussion on the relationship of the concepts "motivation", "affective aspects", "goals", and "reflection". Particularly, the relationship of motivation and goals was more closely investigate, which led to differentiating "implicit" (interest, challenge-based) and "explicit" motivation (goal-oriented, which can be "assessed"), both of which can be intrinsic or extrinsic. These can conflict - explicit goals can stifle implicit interest. The challenge lies in balancing these two aspects.

As a wrap-up of the workshop, research challenges were identified:

  • Future research should not aim at general "motivational" or "affective aspects", but should explore them in a concrete context. Workshop participants were rather sceptical whether a general framework could be established that could form the basis of systematic motivational design approach ("motivational design models").
  • A lot of potential was seen in the analysis of concrete existing systems and their appropriation. Especially the comparison - or even interaction - of challenge-based and goal-driven systems could lead to new insights.
  • While motivation has so far mainly been analyzed on an individual level, it would be promising to research the group-level and whether we need completely different concepts on that level. That includes also aspects of scaling.
  • Furthermore, it could be very helpful to systematically identify user roles/user types and their characteristics with respect to motivational and affective aspects.
Identifying discussion topics
Discussion topics
Discussion results
Discussion results