Online Learning Communities: Motivational Factors for Success

Sandra Mary Paterson

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As the number of online programmes on offer in higher educational settings, continue to increase, there is a wealth of research evidence which highlights the benefits to be gained from teaching and learning through virtual learning environments and online communities. Past reports on the positive influence online communities have on both socialization and learning outcomes recognizes the value of such work. Yet many questions remain on the viability and veracity of online learning, particularly from the learner perspective. This study seeks to gain insights into learners’ perceptions of online learning. Fifty (50) participant teachers, currently undertaking online modules as part of their Postgraduate Masters of Education programme in one Teacher Educational Institution in Scotland, were surveyed to ascertain and identify factors which they believed made working online successful and their perceived barriers to success as based on their range of online learning experiences. Feedback related to how motivated these students felt in their online work place. Results of the study indicated that most learners valued independence and ownership of working practices; the importance of tutor support and meaningful relevant materials; the need for easy module access and design including helpful time frames; the relevance of sharing professional practice in an online community and sited these reasons for the success of their online learning experience and therefore motivating. Participants indicated the barriers to successful online working to be problems with self motivation; difficulties in coping with technical problems and professional time constraints; anxiety with a lack of personal contact and a sense of frustration, when certain students did not always contribute to the work of the online community.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6-12
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal of Recent Contributions from Engineering, Science & IT (iJES)
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 14 May 2014

Bibliographical note

The Author would like to acknowledge the challenging discussion which took place with fellow lecturers at the University of Aberdeen and thank them for their counsel
and support.


  • Barriers to learning
  • Distance learning
  • Motivational factors
  • Online learning


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