The best time to motivate learners is before they begin the course. It is also the best time to avoid frustrations and disappointments. Before the course starts, set clear expectations. Tell learners what they are expected to do, learn, and create. Tell them when and how well they must do these things. Also ask learners what their expectations are of the course. Confirm that the course will meet these expectations.

In one initial offering of the online course "Introduction to Computer-Based Systems" at Purdue University Calumet, learners did not know the format of the course ahead of time. Over half dropped out in the first two weeks [118]. Let learners know what the course requires before they sign up for it.

10.2.1. Tell learners what is expected of them

Tell potential learners what tasks learners must perform to complete the course, when they must do them, and how well they must do them.

What kinds of learning tasks must the learner do to complete the material of the course? Must learners read and view presentations? Do exercises and activities? Take and pass tests? Participate in online discussions, chats, and conferences?

Spell out which activities are required and which are optional. Are passing test scores required before taking advanced sections of the course? Do some optional activities provide "extra credit" toward the final grade?

The place to set expectations is in the course description (p 80). Make sure learners can read the full course ...

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