New learning design in distance education: The impact on student perception and motivation

Rob Martens, Theo Bastiaens, Paul A. Kirschner

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    Many forms of e-learning (such as online courses with authentic tasks and computer-supported collaborative learning) have become important in distance education. Very often, such e-learning courses or tasks are set up following constructivist design principles. Often, this leads to learning environments with authentic problems in ill-structured tasks that are supposed to motivate students. However, constructivist design principles are difficult to implement because developers must be able to predict how students perceive the tasks and whether the tasks motivate the students. The research in this article queries some of the assumed effects. It presents a study that provides increased insight into the actual perception of electronic authentic learning tasks. The main questions are how students learn in such e-learning environments with “virtual” reality and authentic problems and how they perceive them. To answer these questions, in two e-learning programs developed at the Open University of the Netherlands (OUNL) designers’ expectations were contrasted with student perceptions. The results show a gap between the two, for students experience much less authenticity than developers assume.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)81-93
    Number of pages13
    JournalDistance Education
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 25 May 2007


    • New learning
    • Instructional design
    • Student perception
    • Motivation


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