Grey Tales


Tales from an Instructional Technologist in the world of legal education and beyond…

Thinking about motivation in instructional design

Daniel Pink has a new book out called Drive. After watching the following video, it got me thinking about how we, as educators, might be able to incorporate his ideas into instructional design to promote right-brain skills within learning goals that do not fall under the “strict set of rules” and “only one solution” umbrella. I like the idea of abandoning “carrot and stick” approaches to learning (e.g., traditional grading/testing models, bonus points, etc.) in favor of designing learning tasks that make students WANT to do assignments because that are engaging and help them think about solutions “on the periphery” (e.g., to get them thinking symphonically).  I like the concepts of “fed-ex days” (having to deliver something–it doesn’t matter what–overnight and present to the class), the 20% time model at Google (e.g., to work on anything that interests them 20% of the time), and, the ROWE (results only work environment–not having a schedule, do not have to show up but just have to get their work done). Can you envision reshaping curriculum in ways that empower students with autonomy, mastery and purpose in the way Daniel Pink describes? Obviously we still need to give students grades but can’t we, as educators, come up with a grading model that is less “carrot and stick” and more personally engaging/motivating to students? It reminds me of Randy Pauch’s last lecture where he designed curriculum for his Building Virtual Worlds course to tap into his students’s childhood dreams. He asked his 50 students to do 5 projects (in groups of four, randomly chosen for each 2 week project) during the semester where they had to “do something, make something, and/or show something” to the class.  When asked by his students, “what content should we produce,”  he said “I don’t know, make whatever you want, just no violence/pornography.” The results he got were better products than he has seen in his 10 years of teaching! He asked his mentor what to do, b/c his students had just delivered work in 2 weeks that if he had given them an entire semester to complete, he would have given them all A’s! His mentor said to go back into class and tell the students, “that work was okay but I know you can do better” b/c obviously “Randy didn’t know where to set the bar and to do anything else would be a disservice to his students.” I think that is a great line and is something all educators should consider. Do we really want to set limits on our students’ creativity?

Daniel Pink video

Randy Pauch


Filed under: Educational Technology, General, Instructional Technology

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