The idea of fun in learning or fun in education can be a hard one to grasp. Yet, at heart, we all know that learning is fun. Or, at least, it should be. It shouldn’t be so hard to learn and have fun, should it?
Do you remember the last time you sat down just to learn something new or improve your skills at work? Though the idea of self-development is exciting, the process is usually a bit dull. There’s a lot of hard, boring work to do before you can reap the rewards. Sometimes it’s tough to motivate yourself.
Winston Churchill said, “Personally, I’m always ready to learn, although I do not always like being taught”. This is how most of us see learning and development. That’s because the approach to training hasn’t evolved since Churchill was yawning at the back of a classroom. The thought of accessing an online learning platform probably doesn’t fill you with a sense of giddy joy.
Shouldn’t we be excited to unleash superpowers we never knew we had? Shouldn’t we wake up each morning wondering what new lessons the day might bring? If that’s the case, why is corporate training so… well… corporate? So how do we make learning fun for adults?
The Science of Fun in Learning
In fact, when learning is fun, you can see a positive influence on both your learners and organisation! After all, fun has a positive effect on motivation levels, determining what we learn and how much we retain.
Learning isn’t a one-off event. It requires repetition and dedication. If the experience is fun, learners will stay curious and keep coming back for more.
As such, your training programme needs to fun! We even argue that if it isn’t, learning won’t be effective. That’s not just a sneaking suspicion – it’s a cold, hard, scientific fact.
- A study in the journal, College Teaching, found that students could recall a statistics lecture more easily when the lecturer added jokes about relevant topics.
- In her book, Neurologist, Judy Willis showed how fun experiences increase levels of dopamine, endorphins, and oxygen – all things that promote learning.
- In a study for the Journal of Vocational Behaviour, Michael Tews found that employees are more likely to try new things if their work environment is fun.
- Dr Laura Kubansky has undertaken research which demonstrates that fun is good for your health.
- Many influential researchers (Dulay & Burt, 1977; Krashen, 1982) have found evidence that people learn better when they’re feeling strong positive emotions.
The science proves it, learning is fun. So take the hint and make your training exciting!
These are just five examples from the masses of research into the impact of making an enjoyable learning experience. Though it’s a small sample, it’s clear to see the impact that fun can have on learning effectiveness, memory retention and in promoting self-led learning. So why not let your students and learners have some fun in the classroom?
Practical Examples of Fun in Learning
If an academic study doesn’t do it for you, how about some real-world examples that showcase the effect of fun on human behaviour?
1. Volkswagen – Gamified Staircase
As part of their ‘Fun Theory’, Volkswagen turned a staircase into a giant fully-functioning piano keyboard. The result? 66% more people chose the stairs over the escalator. This just goes to show that fun can change the way people behave in a situation that would otherwise be a boring chore.
2. HubSpot – Rooftop Meetings
HubSpot’s CEO has a small rooftop terrace where the team gathers for beers after work. Why? Because Brian, the CEO, believes that these meetings led to the company’s success. They bonded the team together and made work a more sociable place to be.
3. Gigantic Ball Pit Downtown
To test if senior business executives still cared about having fun, Mark Gagnon installed a giant ball pit in a business area. What he found was that inside each business person in a suit there’s a carefree fun-lover desperate to get out!
4. LinkedIn – Walk & Talk
LinkedIn introduced walk & talks where team members can take a stroll to catch up or have meetings. It’s a great way to introduce some exercise into the workday and it releases fun-inducing endorphins. These hormones help us to reduce stress, improve health and make people happier.
5. Hendrick – Gamified Learning Platform
Hendrick Automotive launched their H.A.L.O. platform in July of 2015. The gamified elements in the LMS boosted engagement and supercharged learning throughout the company.
This all helped make the last quarter of the following year was the most successful in Hendrick’s 40-year history. Read the full case study here.
Importance Of Having Fun While Learning
Life without laughter, entertainment and fun would be grey and downright dull! And we can all agree that life’s too short for boring! As such, it only makes sense to ensure your organisation has room for fun.
Fun at work can take many forms. So, let’s explore some of the ways a little fun can make a big difference.
1. Skyrockets productivity
It’s probably not a surprise that a fun working environment makes us happier at work. And this can have a big influence on your organisation!
The good news? Happy employees are 12% more productive! The great news? It’s not just happiness that increases positivity. Research shows that simply having a good laugh makes us more productive and boosts accuracy.
As such, next time you have an afternoon of hardcore spreadsheets, or back-to-back calls ahead of you, an impromptu #joke-off could be just the motivation you need!
2. Less Empty Seats
No, we’re not talking about Musical Chairs Monday (but while we’re at it, that sounds like an awesome idea!). We are talking about the fact that more fun in the workplace leads to lower staff turnover and less time off sick.
In fact, research suggests that 62% of people who engaged in fun activities at work had taken no sick days in the last three months compared to 38% of people who had not taken part in the fun at work. As such, organising fun activities at work and making sure your company culture is relaxed and supportive can help you to reduce costs related to hiring processes or hiring temporary workforce.
3. Raised Resilience
Whether you’re facing a business crisis, a bad day at the office or just a bad hair day – resilience is essential in times of adversity. That’s where laughter and fun can help! After all, we know by now that it’s good for our health and wellbeing.
In fact, a hearty chuckle can lower stress and boost immunity. And did you know that our muscles relax for up to 45 minutes following a good giggle? Encouraging a positive office culture that advocates fun and laughter helps protect staff against the stresses and strains of day-to-day working life.
4. Increases Creativity
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. It’s true – without a little fun in the office people become dull and uninspired. And that means that their creativity suffers. In contrast, 55% of staff who’ve taken part in a fun activity in the last 6 months feel more creative.
A workplace where people feel free to laugh, helps people feel free to share their ideas. This, of course, results in a culture where ideas bounce back and forth effectively. It’s clear a little fun can make all the difference when it comes to business innovation.
5. Varied Activities Cater To All
Fun means different things to different people. Some people’s micro scooter may be another person’s Harley Davidson. Some people’s snowboarding dream-getaway might be another person’s vertigo nightmare. So, what does fun look like for your employees and learners?
Firstly, most people like to have fun but some like it more than others. 79% of millennials think fun at work is important, compared to only 55% of older staff.
On top of that, fun looks different depending on your role within the company. For example, only 14% of business owners see dress-down days as fun compared to 29% of graduates. The research also shows business owners are less likely to value fun at work than employees.
As such, next time you’re planning the company wellbeing strategy, staff conference or social – it’s important to ask people what they want.
This is the only way to make the fun meaningful and inclusive! It helps you to ensure everyone’s ideas of a good time are represented and celebrated equally. This fosters a working environment of inclusion, diversity, Epic Meaning, and of course, shed loads of fun!
6. Make Fun a Habit
We can’t simply look around a grey office and think ‘It’s miserable in here – we need to spice things up. Let’s organise a team away day, party or dance-off (insert random, one-off event of your choice here).’ Those activities will probably boost morale temporarily but how long will this serotonin high last?
For fun to translate into happiness and success, it needs to become a habit. As such, make fun part of the company culture. And of course, make it part of the learning culture to keep your staff happy, engaged and motivated!
How can Learning Technology Help?
Too large, scattered or remote to make this happen throughout your company? Don’t worry! Learning technologies can help bring all this fun to your staff wherever they are.
What could be more fun than a good game? Gamification, the application of gaming mechanics to non-game environments, allows you to bring all the fun of the Zelda and Angry Birds, straight to your learning management system (LMS). Points, levels and rewards will keep your learners engaged and motivated.
Use the power of social learning to bump up the fun element. Introduce chatrooms to your LMS. These allow learners to celebrate success, share ideas and cheer each other on.
And why not add a healthy dose of competition with a Leaderboard feature? It doesn’t just have to be about learning – why not take an idea from us at Growth Engineering and encourage people to share their favourite weekend selfie – best one wins!
3. Mobile Learning
Whether based at the company’s head office or in a remote wilderness out posting, people can stay connected to the fun wherever they are with mobile learning. Mobile means that no one has to miss out the Leaderboard top spot, office #JokeOff marathon, or the latest company competition.
Learning is Fun: Engagement is the key!
Fun, pleasure, excitement — call it what you will, the essential ingredient in any training endeavour is engagement. When it comes to talent management if you don’t spend the time to make the learning experience a compelling and enjoyable one, how can you expect your learners to spend any time on it?
Unlocking engagement in your learning platform isn’t some dark art known only to mystics and seers – it’s actually a lot simpler than you might think.
In fact, after nearly twenty years perfecting the recipe we’ve decided to share it in the form of a handy guide. The Secret to Business Impact will help you unleash the power of engagement in your organisation and engage your students.