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Orientation Module

Orientation to the D4L Learning Project

Self Determination Theory

4 Self Determination Theory

The brief video lecture below introduces you to one of the most recognized theories of psychological needs in the world. These needs also drive learning motivation.

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The National Science Foundation (NSF) refers to online learning as cyberlearning and so that term will sometimes be used interchangeably in this module and others, as well. The NSF Task Force defines cyberlearning as new learning and educational approaches via networked computing and communication technologies, and the possibility of redistributing learning experiences over time and space (NSF Task Force on Cyberlearning, 2008). Those learning experiences must be accessible to all including persons with disabilities. Yet, two major learning challenges for students with disabilities are accessibility and the presentation of content (Arnone, Ellis, & Cogburn, 2013).

SDT Applies to the Needs of ALL in Online Learning

Self Determination Theory, as mentioned in the above lecture, has been studied across numerous domains and across different cultural contexts (Chirkov, 2009). There is also empirical support for this theory when studying persons with disabilities (Perreault & Vallerand, 2007). Considering these needs when designing learning environments and instructional materials is thus essential to all learners in order for them to be constructive and curious. While an entire module is dedicated to the topic of diversity in Year 2, we will also explore strategies that address these needs beginning in the Foundation Module. In this Orientation module, you are asked to use your own personal experience and opinions to mindstorm the possible implications of this theory in practice.



Arnone, M. P., Ellis, J. T., & Cogburn, D. (2013). A blended instructional design approach to accessible cyberlearning. In Luckin et al, editors Handbook of Design in Educational Technology, Routledge Publishers, 336-347.

Chirkov, V. I. (2009). A cross-cultural analysis of autonomy in education: A self-determination theory perspective. Theory and Research in Education, 7(2), 253-262.

Report of the NSF Task Force on Cyberlearning (2008). Fostering Learning in the Networked World: The Cyberlearning Opportunity and Challenge

Perreault, S. & Vallerand, R. J. (2007). A test of self-determination theory with wheel-chair basketball players with and without disability. Adapted Physical Activity Quarterly, 24, 305 - 316.

This project is administered by the South Central Regional Library Council with funding from the Institue for Museum and Library Services.