Across cultural contexts, individuals who persist in digital virtual worlds largely do so because the experience satisfies students' desires for autonomy, relatedness, and competence. Similarly, in nondigital learning environments, the alignment of teachers' practices with students' needs has been shown to reflect positive in-class engagement and learning outcomes. New technologies provide learners with increased opportunities for interaction with learning material, from individual smartphone and tablet applications to digital whiteboards structuring whole-class instruction to entirely online learning environments with no classroom structure. As the use of these advances becomes increasingly normalized in the sphere of education, students rapidly grow accustomed to their use. As of yet, a gap still exists between the design of online learning environments and their ability to satisfy both motivational and learning outcomes. From a self-determined motivational perspective, however novel and initially interesting these technologies may be, their use will have a limited long-term effect on learning and instruction if they are not able to meet students' basic psychological needs of autonomy, relatedness, and competence. This chapter offers a discussion of the self-determination theory of motivation in relation to previous findings on engagement with digital environments, classroom learning environments, and offers a theoretical discussion on how the differences and similarities may be reconciled in order to better motivate learners of the Net Generation toward positive learning outcomes.
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