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Learning MUST be FUN

Updated: Feb 8, 2023

One of the earliest lessons I got as a learning and development professional was that “Telling ain’t Training”, a concept made popular by the then, American Society for Training and Development, now the Association for Talent Development. The concept is simple: telling people about things or merely passing information does not create learning (Stolovitch & Keeps, 2005). For your teaching to be effective enough to create learning, you need to go beyond just “telling”.

This challenged me to explore and learn about other facets of learning that have shaped the work that I do professionally and the solutions that myself and my collaborators design and implement in the area of learning. I will explore some of these concepts that support the proposition that learning must be fun and discuss some of the unique solutions that help to create that practical connection between learning and having fun.

Learning styles theory speaks to the differences that different learners have and how those differences should shape the instructional methods that we use – some people are visual, others kinesthetic, some are auditory, and others are read/write (Curry, 1983). Effective teaching or training whether to children (pedagogy) or adults (andragogy) MUST reflect these different styles so that all learners will be motivated.

This brings me to another set of theories around motivation and learning and the important role that motivation plays in learning (Deci et al, 1991). Whether it is intrinsic (from within) or extrinsic (from outside), people need a strong desire to learn for your instruction to be impactful. Sometimes, motivation can be helped by the methodology and tools used in teaching for example with the use of experiential and discovery-based techniques

Self-learning is an interesting extension of the discovery and experiential approaches. An example of this is found in Montessori education (Montessori, 1917) where children are challenged to take ownership of their learning activities by themselves and where the learning tools – the Montessori games provide immediate feedback that helps children identify “failures” and self-correct immediately. It supports the pedagogy of the determined that we discussed earlier. Social learning is also important – people learning in teams and in groups and learning from the experiences and perspectives of others (Bandura, 1977).

Fusing these concepts together creates one powerful theme for me – the fact that learning if done properly MUST be fun. Such learning will go beyond boring PowerPoints or long speeches (telling ain’t training); it will be reflective of different learning styles; be driven by experiential, discovery-based and recognize the need for both self-paced learning and social learning. One fun way to achieve all of these is to use GAMIFICATION in learning.

Gamification is about the use of games and the typical characteristics of games in the design and delivery of learning. It incorporates some of these concepts and ensures that learning is FUN. Researchers have also found that there is a statistically significant relationship between the use of gamification and learning effectiveness.

At Learning Impact, my colleagues and I pioneered the use of gamification with the development of board games across a variety of areas of life and professional skills to teach individuals, families, and teams within organization these skills in a powerful and engaging manner.

We are always excited about our flagship games – “Fun Finance” (Financial Literacy), “Sparks” (Creativity & Innovation); Be Better (Leadership) and Word Whiz (Communication Skills) and how schools, families and organization have deployed these games to support learning in these areas. We have also worked with some organizations to create board games that are a part of their acculturation efforts to teach and transfer culture and behavioural expectations. We have even used Board games to teach important professional skills like Customer Service and Consultative Selling.

You can check out the video of learners having FUN while playing one of our board games. These games are available for retail and wholesale purchase, and for organizations who desire to use gamification to support acculturation or any specific employee development program, we can work with you to design and develop a customized board game.

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