But how do we know we’ve got a Bored Billie? And, more importantly, how do we help her?
Spotting Billie in the Class Console
Billie will probably have one of the highest progress values in your class. Sort the console to easily see if there are any learners well ahead of the rest.
Billie will also have loads of green check marks for the automarked tasks on her list and no (or few) re-attempts.
Although Billie is doing well, she’s also at risk of becoming a disengaged Darren because the course just isn’t challenging her. She needs something in that sweet spot of just-hard-enough-that-it’s-satisfying (in line with Csikszentmihalyi’s flow theory).
One way to support Billie instead of just giving her more to read or more to do, is to offer her choice and/or autonomy. You could do this by taking one of your tasks and seeing how you could “open it up” - Looking for ways to allow for more diverse or complex thinking or production. For instance, maybe your essay task to explain a theory could instead be a video explaining a theory or could be a mock debate about which theory is “best” in a given context.
Better yet, if your context allows, you could talk with Billie about how she might like to show she has met the task requirements or outcomes. Through this conversation, you might be able to come up with a task that will engage and challenge Billie without just lumping on more of the same.
Leveraging Billie's strengths
Another way to engage Billie is to ensure there are ways for her to share and use her prior knowledge.
We’re really keen on activating prior knowledge so we've written a lot about different methods. Below are further links to articles for a handful of strategies, each with a range of variations and further ideas to turn the strategy into a social activity.
- Concept maps - Reveal the structure of learners' schema.
- What I KNOW, THINK I know and WANT to know charts - Help learners set their own learning goals.
- Image prompts - Use visual decoding to help learners make associations and recall concepts.
- Simple story prompts - Help make concepts sticky by connecting it to simple stories.
- Brainstorms - Help showcase the range of concepts within a topic.
Billie will have valuable ideas and experiences to contribute. Acknowledging (and using) what she brings to the table will engage and motivate her. And it will also be a great resource for other learners. Win-win.
Billie is just one of the online learner personas we've explored in our series on the six online learners who need your help (now!).