I am not sure whether online learning increases the vulnerabilty of the learner to the vagaries of demotivation than its f2f learning companion. My own experience online relates specifically to my perception of relevance: to my needs and expectations. Suffice it to say, as has recently happened, when the demands of paid-work conflicts substantially with the demands of online learning my energies to reach resolution have been tested and resulted in a drop in my motivation.
This is not about disinterest in the subject matter, which I am enjoying profusely, but a slight irritation around the continual focus on mainstream academic learning. This was a grievance that I experienced in the OUs' H800 module and I find myself still enduring literature reviews that have, only high level relevance to my current situation. Generic learning about technologies and innovations is great....but the detail of how it impacts on OU and schools does, for me, wear thin at times.
My second gripe is concerned with how tricky it is to manage relationships between contributors in the forums and within collaborative work. It is common practice in f2f training to establish ground rules about how we manager our communications. I realise now that this ought to be the case in OU forums and around collaborative work. The question is, who might suggest the ground rules - the group's facilitator or members of the group itself. Who is responsible for group dynamics and how is dissent or disagreement managed if it becomes personal? Simply because we are 'adults' does not determine our ability to resolve conflict effectively. Yet without some sort of management, people are less likely to be honest about their learning and the potential of the forums becomes undermined.
Thirdly, I have also been aware of how we manage work that has arrived at a different conclusion to the intended outcomes of an OU activity. How does the group facilitator or group members point out any confusion without undermining individuals efforts, demotivating or humiliating them. Forums and collaborative activities are very much in the public arena, as are the comments relating to them. Ethically, is it acceptable to allow mistakes to go unchallenged?
I have no answers, but I think my cogitations do highlight to me some of the real challenges in managing online learning.