How to Motivate Online Learners: Discover 10 Tips to Go About It

One of the biggest challenges in education today is how to motivate online learners. Nonetheless, the internet is a powerful tool for learning. It offers learners the opportunity to learn anytime and anywhere, with the convenience of their own homes. But, like all learning, the key to success is to know how to motivate online learners.

Motivation is a key component when it comes to increasing student (or learner) outcomes. Motivation is a complex subject. However, with the right approach, you can get your students (or learners) to be more engaged and excited about the content that they are learning. 

If you are looking for ideas to motivate online learners, you’ve come to the right place. Below are some tips to motivate your online learners.

1. Learn More About What Motivates Your Students

What motivates your students to learn? What motivates them – social interaction, or a desire to make good grades? It is your job as an educator to know that every student you teach is unique, with their own set of strengths and weaknesses. Students have different motivations. 

Some students are motivated by encouraging words, while others respond to logical evidence.

One way to improve how you motivate your online learners is to learn about what motivates them in general and then determine what kinds of teaching would be most appropriate for them.

2. Encourage Collaboration 

Let’s face it: education in the 21st century is not a solo sport. It requires collaboration, cooperation, and coordination.

Educators also understand that in some situations, students learn more when they are working as a team than when they’re working alone.  

As an educator, it’s important to recognize that online learning isn’t any different from the way K-12 students learn in school. Students love to be engaged and work with other people collaboratively. 

By promoting projects, group work, and discussions, online learners will feel more a part of the class, which leads to higher levels of engagement.

3. Motivate Students’ Success with Rewards and Praise

When it comes to inspiring students to do better, try a combination of praise and incentives that motivates online learners. Rewards and praise are two of the most powerful ways to motivate students. 

Both encourage students to perform a task well to be rewarded or praised. Rewarding students directly can make them feel happy, confident, and inspired.

Praise is one of the best motivators because it acknowledges a student’s efforts and achievements.

Be sure to encourage with your positive words as well rather than only correcting negative behavior with a virtual red pen or a stern e-mail note.

You can recognize your students’ efforts by telling them “good job” after each lesson or allowing them to move on to another topic.

4. Be Creative and Use Graphics

One of the best ways to motivate online learners is by giving them some fun graphics to work with on their assignments.

Usually, teachers use images as visual aids for presentations or in-class notes. I could go on and on about cute colorful images that would be much more enjoyable if they were interactive to superimpose a student’s image, add a date to a birthday cake, etc. 

The important thing is that the images are fun and motivating to your online learners. It might even be interesting to have students create their own.

Find innovative ways to generate interest through visuals or humor. By creating an exciting and supportive environment, your students will feel motivated to succeed. 

5. Give Students Opportunities for Self-expression and Reflection

Students are complex and mysterious creatures, but they want to learn. They will appreciate the opportunity to express themselves, reflect on their learning, and work on a task that offers an opportunity for a significant student voice. Here’s how.

Whenever possible, give students the opportunity for self-expression.

Provide a platform for them to reflect on their own learning experiences, whether through blogs or journals. You might create a bulletin board for student reflections or allow students to share updates about their projects via social media.

Students will be able to improve their relationships with their teachers as well as reflect on their ideas and those of others.

6. Make Assessment Criteria Clear to Learners

Assessments need to be interesting and captivating, yet they also need to be clearly defined. Keep in mind that learners who sign up for courses online are expecting a certain level of professionalism from their educators. 

Always clarify your assessment criteria with your eLearning audience. It is a good idea to set reasonable expectations for learners about how you will evaluate their understanding of the content being taught.

Without this, you could find yourself being dragged through lengthy email exchanges or conversations, where unclear expectations get in the way.

7. Provide Feedback and Guidance Before Each Task

Online educators should not just give students an assignment and ask them to complete it independently.

Giving feedback and guidance before each task will help students have a clear idea of how to proceed with the assignment.

Each course should include a feedback form that assesses whether or not the learner has met all of the course requirements. 

Talk to your students about providing their feedback, choosing their criteria to measure the accuracy of their work, and making the review progress easier.

Teachers should always assume that all online learners are eager to learn and possess high motivation levels. Therefore, motivational methods should be incorporated from the beginning.

8. Share Useful Links to Related Reading Materials and Projects

 As part of your learning environment, students need to be able to keep learning online even when their teacher isn’t available. To make content more appealing, teachers can provide links to helpful additional reading material and projects. 

Most educators are familiar with the idea of providing links to useful reading materials and projects. This can have a profound impact on your students. It makes them feel like you’re going beyond just teaching them facts. 

Furthermore, you are preparing them for the world that awaits them after school. This should make them more willing to learn what you’re teaching.  

9. Be Personable

As teachers, it can be difficult at times to stay focused on what we are trying to teach. 

One of the first and most important things that you can do to keep your students engaged is to be friendly. That’s why online teachers should always be sure to be personable with their online learners. 

Always refer to your students by name and set up in-class discussions so that the students feel like a part of the classroom learning environment.

This personalization allows your students to feel connected to the material that they are learning from you. Thus, they become more likely to want to excel in the class.

Furthermore, they will want to return for future classes. 

Takeaway: Students who are participating and being acknowledged will most likely be more motivated to participate in class discussions with you.

10. Allow Students to Personalize their Pages 

Personalization tends to lead to more interest and pride in the work, and it helps us connect with each other. It is important to let our students know that their ideas and feelings are important to them.

Try giving them the opportunity to put some of their own personality and creativity into their work.

Having students create and manage their pages is a meaningful way to give them a sense of ownership of the online learning platform. For example, give them an opportunity to choose their avatars, design, background colors, themes, and more.

Besides, research shows that learners are more motivated when they have choices, and this can be achieved by encouraging students to customize their online experience.

11. Make the Overall Learning Experience Fun and Engaging

When you are teaching young children, you may want to consider using tactics that make lessons more fun and engaging. If learners are not focused and excited, they don’t really learn anything.

When your lessons are not relevant, it means that you have to work harder to get their attention. Make your lessons fun and engaging to keep their attention.

Always keep in mind that motivation is the key. The more invested your students are, the easier it is to keep them engaged and ensure that they complete their coursework. When students feel that they have some control over their education, they are more engaged and committed. 

It’s not an easy process, but it definitely is worth the time and effort. The best way to ensure a successful online teaching experience is to harness students’ motivation.

Why Motivate Online Learners?

Motivate your students to learn. They will make progress faster. Motivating online learners is no easy job. It’s a well-known fact that motivation is a key factor in student success.

Motivation is different for each student, so it’s important for educators to build motivation into their lesson plans. 

Here are some reasons why it is necessary to motivate students both online and in a traditional classroom.

  • An online student is not connected to you physically, so you need to keep their attention
  • Motivation encourages the learner to strive for improvement
  • It will strengthen relationships and trust with your students
  • Motivated students learn faster and retain more information
  • Learning will become a habit
  • Greater engagement in learning activities 

Motivation requires a blend of personal incentives and encouragement from the teacher. However, teachers and parents need to be careful when attempting to motivate student learners.

If not done right, it can lead to bad learning experiences that might even eventually fail. But if approached with caution, motivation can make all the difference in your online learning experience.

In conclusion, if you are trying to motivate learners online then your approach should be focused on the learner. Be sure to understand what the purpose is, who your learner is and what level they are operating at.

How Do You Motivate Students in a Traditional Classroom?

Motivation is something that can vary from student to student.

As a result, a teacher can’t expect to find an easy solution when it comes to motivating everyone in the classroom. However, there are a few steps they can take to guide students toward a more motivated mindset: 

1. Assess your students by watching and listening. This will help you get an idea of how each student feels about their performance in the course so far and what problem areas they may be having. 

2. Provide positive feedback for your students as often as possible, but focus on the things you know they will work on and improve with practice. 

3. Help your struggling students understand what they’re doing wrong so that they can fix those errors and continue improving. 

4. Make sure your students are confident in their skills by giving them opportunities early on to practice new techniques and improve their understanding of their assignments before moving on to the next unit of study (or stage). 

5. Make sure that your lessons and assignments are relevant to your students’ daily lives so that they can imagine themselves actually needing or using these skills sometime soon in the future. This will also help students become more motivated to succeed and learn more in each class.


How do you find content ideas for online courses?

The best way for you to find content ideas for your online course is to try and make them relevant to your students. What do they want to learn? What are their goals?

Once you know this, you can create a platform that allows them to learn on their terms while still meeting the goals that you set out in the curriculum.

Who can benefit from online learning?

Anyone can use an online learning solution. Anyone with basic computer skills and an internet connection can utilize online learning.

The additional benefit of online learning is that it does not have geographical restrictions, so students of all ages from anywhere in the world can participate.

Final Thoughts 

I like to think of motivation in terms of three levels: psychological, cognitive, and physiological. If students see the course as being relevant to them or worthwhile, they are more likely to be motivated emotionally and cognitively. 

Physiologically, students are motivated when the rewards outweigh their discomfort or some external anxiety about their efforts. In this article, I have shared the top tips for you to motivate and empower your online learners.

There’s an article on the websites that would make a great resource for online instructors struggling to engage their students. Check out the article that outlines practical ways to increase engagement with your online courses.

Thanks for reading.