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Intrinsic and Extrinsic motivation and informal learning


Spotted a couple of interesting blogs this morning. Steve Wheeler from Plymouth was responding to a blog from Tillman Swinke in Atlantis. Swinke is discussing personal learning and contrasting formal and informal learning and the role of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation in each.  He is basically saying that intrinsic motivation is more powerful than extrinsic and asking how the passion of intrinsically motivated informal learning can be incorporated into formal learning, suggesting social learning may be a way forward. (How I find myself wondering just what he means by social learning having seen the term used in so many different ways over the past months.)

Wheeler summarises Swinke’s blog and says that we begin to learn because we are interested – intrinsically motivated – but in formal education extrinsic motivation tends to take over as we seek to keep up with our peers, attain good enough grades, etc, and asks how interest and intrinsic interest can be/is maintained in formal learning. Wheeler then advocates PLEs as a way forward.

A commentator on Wheeler’s blog has pointed to the Futures of Education project which is asking questions about the redesign of education. This brings me back to another blog read this morning, Graham Attwell’s reflections on the use of computers in exams.

At root these posts are all raising some pretty fundamental questions about the nature of learning and education and the dichotomy between them.  Others educate me, but I learn. Some of what I learn is guided by my teachers who share their passion for an idea or a subject area. Some of what I am taught is the use of essential tools to facilitate my learning – the 3 ‘R’s. Much of what I learn now is out of interest and desire to learn and explore ideas and play with them either in my mind or with my hands. Some of what I have been taught in the past, I am rediscovering through my own learning in the present.

Good thoughts to start the day!


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