While there are many hurdles to overcome when teaching teenagers in High School fully or partially online, perhaps convincing them that what you are “delivering” on your Moodle course (I am sorry, but when I think “online”, I think “Moodle”) is relevant to their lives now (and not just in the future) is a major hurdle. We live in the WIIFM (What’s in it for me?) era, and to engage teens I have to persuade them that my “cool stuff”, I mean, content on Moodle, is somehow as important as any other “cool stuff” (a game, Instagram content, a Tik Tok video, etc.) that competes for their attention. It is a tough competition, mind you.
I believe the WIIFM approach may be one of the best tools in my communication arsenal when trying to engage my teenage pupils. I teach English as a Foreign language in Israel, and while most pupils want to know English, there is always this question of convincing some (or many) that it is worth their time and effort to invest in learning English (and using Moodle for that).
It is, then, WIIFM, but not only. In fact, it is all about engaging, of course. I may be overgeneralizing (stereotyping is wrong, I know), but regardless of the culture or country where” the archetypal teenager” (another generalization) lives, we, teachers, are competing with forces beyond our powers. We need to engage with our pupils to get their attention.
The key to getting teens motivated is, it seems to me, the teacher connection. Establishing that bond is what makes it possible to get teenagers motivated. Slightly changing Nagesh Belludi headline in a December 8, 2015 post (Link), to inspire teens, you have to translate extrinsic motivation to Intrinsic Motivation. Many High School teens will study “for the teacher” at first, but will hopefully end up doing it for themselves.
I have been a teacher at The Six-Year Kugel High School for 32 years. Unless I show my pupils I really care about them and their success, even the best platform (Moodle) will not do the job. I do care. Not every pupil cares about feeling that I care, but teens are not adults, and, I believe, it is important for them that their teachers care.
This is no secret: When it comes to children (and teens are children), you can fake that you care for some time, but your pupils will soon learn that you are faking. When it comes to learning, this will not inspire them to translate any extrinsic motivation into intrinsic motivation, and will probably lose interest and not be engaged.
It is easier (and better) to connect than to fake interest. Moodle has tools that help teachers engage in lots of meaningful ways.